What To Expect With A Colonoscopy
Well, when the big 5-0 comes around it’s worth circling the calendar for some great celebration time. I mean, come on, you made it 50 years! Go You!! After the champagne gets guzzled and you come to grips with your mid-life crisis there’s something else to look forward to……your first colonoscopy. The party continues!! So, if you are of a “certain age” and haven’t had yours yet then you are in luck. I just had mine and I’m here to share with you what to expect with a colonoscopy.
After I went to my annual physical a few months back and my primary care doc gave me someone to call to set up a colonoscopy I asked around and did some research. What I universally found was everyone said preparing for the actual procedure was the worst part. And after going through it first hand I will totally agree although for me personally it wasn’t THAT BAD. I wouldn’t willingly choose to spend another 48 hours of my life like that but it wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be.
I scheduled my colonoscopy for 8:30AM on a Monday. I started my prep(see The Drink below) at 3:00PM on Sunday so I actually had the majority of my weekend for normal activity. The day before the procedure, so for me on Sunday, you are not allowed to eat any solid food. You can drink water, coffee, tea, Gatorade, and juices that you can see through like apple juice. You can eat jello and beef or chicken broth. I chose beef broth for lunch and dinner with jello mixed in throughout the day. The beef broth took the edge off my hunger but it was not easy for me to basically skip a day of eating. I stayed busy and kept my mind off of not eating.
Beginning at 3:00PM I started drinking the concoction. This consists of mixing 8.3 ounces of MiraLAX with 64 ounces of Gatorade. You also get to swallow 2 Dulcolax tablets when you get going which is another laxative. Once you take the 2 Dulcolax pills you begin drinking HALF of the 64 ounce Gatorade mix. I basically measured out 1/2 of the MiraLAX and put each 1/2 into a 32 ounce Gatorade. I then guzzled down the 32 ounce Gatorade/MiraLAX mix over the next hour, or 8 ounces every 15 minutes. You have to pay attention to this as it’s actually quite a bit to drink in one hour even though it doesn’t seem like it when you start.
After 30 minutes of starting to drink the concoction I felt the first internal rumblings. Yeah, the stuff works fast. I felt this was a good time to wrap up what I was working on and get cozy. So I put on some sweats and a t-shirt, grabbed my laptop, and get cozy in bed. Of course my side of the bed is 10 steps to the bathroom, I was quite strategic in this. I made my first run for the bathroom 1 hour after starting the drink. Not bad.
At 6:00PM I did another round of Dulcolax tablets and another Gatorade and MiraLAX concoction. From about 3:30PM onward I pretty much stayed in my bed reading or working on the laptop or watching some Netflix. I broke up the monotony with bathroom breaks every 20 minutes or so. This continued until about 10PM when I went to sleep. I only got up twice during the night and in general slept fairly well.
The Day Of
My wife drove me to the procedure at 7:30AM on Monday. After 20 minutes of paperwork and checking my vitals I was all settled into a bed. I got an IV stuck in my arm since you can’t drink anything after midnight so they stick you to keep you hydrated. After that the doc came and talked to me for a few minutes about the procedure. I had a few other folks like the anesthesiologist stop by and talk to me about the procedure. They were all very friendly and did a fantastic job of explaining the procedure. Very good at putting me at ease.
At 8:30AM I got wheeled into the operating room. Within 60 seconds I was all hooked up and they put in the anesthesia. I had enough time to say “Hey, is this the anesthesia?” before I was out like a light. Next thing I knew the nurse was waking me up back in my little room and my wife was coming in. Entire procedure took 20 minutes.
After about 15 minutes I was fairly with it and the doctor came in. He told me things looked pretty good overall and he’d snipped 2 small polyps and sent them to the lab. Once the lab gets results back they will call me to let me know if I need to come back in 5 years or 10 years. 5 years means the polyps are worth keeping a closer eye on, 10 years means they are pretty much nothing at this point.
Later That Day
After I dressed and was ready to roll my wife drove me home. Since you have anesthesia you aren’t allowed to drive yourself to or from the procedure. They will actually call off the procedure if you don’t have someone to drive you. My wife stopped by Sonic and we got some big fat breakfast burrito’s. After putting most of that bad boy away at home I went to bed and took a nice long 2 hour nap.
When I awoke from my nap it was a little after noon and I had my whole afternoon and evening in front of me. I used a sick day at work so didn’t lose out on any coin that way. I had the rest of my day to work on some projects I’ve had going. And I felt fine after that. It took about 3 days for my bowels to be back on track fully. It’s quite the colon cleanse.
All in all it was a lot less of a big deal than I thought it was going to be. It’s something that’s easy to get worked up about because, well, let’s be honest here, they stick something up your butt. Now granted it’s small and slim and designed for it but still. Not something most of us willing sign up for! I’m not judging, it’s simply not something I would typically sign up for.
The prep really is the worst part of it but even that wasn’t too bad for me. I’m lucky in that I have always had a good bowel system. I’ve been told I am kind of like a baby, food in, food out. In this case it served me well.
If you are of a “certain age” and you haven’t had your first colonoscopy I recommend you do. According to some data I read that was from 2014 approximately 4.3% of men and women will develop colon cancer. It is the 3rd most diagnosed cancer in the US and more than 50,000 people in the US will die from it this year. It’s worth getting yourself checked out.
What are you waiting for? It’s not that bad, GO!!