My Colonoscopy Experience
After having brain surgery this past summer, the out-of-pocket maximum of our health insurance being paid brought about the decision to get everything done “medically speaking” that needed to be done, either preventive or just taking care of that nagging pain in my back. Being that I’m in my fifties now, I knew I needed a colonoscopy. So I began the process of making that happen; researching in-network doctors, getting a referral and setting up the consultation, etc.
First of all, the idea of the entire ordeal sounded repulsive to me. But suddenly others who had gone through it were popping up and their stories were less than desirable, to say the least!
But because this turned out to be almost scarier than the brain surgery was for me, I figured I needed to write about it. And quite frankly, I couldn’t seem to find enough thorough details on the internet of what to expect! So here ya go, I hope it helps prepare someone to better endure this looming but needed task.
A side effect of my personality is that sometimes I decide to embrace a task without being fully committed. And as time goes by and the day approaches to implement the process of actions needed, the fear and doubts cloud my thoughts. I remember how I felt as I began timing contractions before giving birth to our first son, Christopher. I had this overwhelming feeling and thought, “I’ve changed my mind – I don’t want to do this anymore, can I back out?” I laughed about it as I shared that feeling with my husband since we both knew there was no turning back at that point! Well, this is the very same feeling I had the day before I had to start a clear liquid diet and begin drinking the prep laxatives that would have me pooping constantly for hours. But somehow I just knew backing out at this point was not a good option. So by the time the evening before the prep day came, I felt this daunting task before me and a wave of courage flooded me as if to say, “bring it on!” I suddenly knew I could do this.
I was instructed to buy Gatorade, Dulcolax, 8.3 oz bottle of Miralax, and basically some diaper ointment, as well as any clear liquid items for ingesting. Some other options were Jello, popsicles, broth, and carbonated sodas. Since I do my best to embrace healthier options, Gatorade was out of the question. Why? Because it’s loaded with sugar and some undesirable synthetic ingredients. I asked for permission to have something healthier and they said any water with added electrolytes would work out fine. By the way, the sugar-free Vitamin Waters ended up working really well. To add more electrolytes, I mixed it with coconut water. I was able to have coffee, thank goodness (you must have been wondering I’m sure). BUT no creamers, not even your non-dairy ones. Ugh, oh well – at least you don’t have to get a caffeine withdrawal headache! I’m grateful to at least have coffee in the lineup, being that it’s technically not that clea when ya think about it!
So on an empty clear liquid-only tummy, I went to work out at the gym. I set out to make sure that happened because I knew I may not be able to go for possibly a couple of days.
Then I had a chiropractic appointment which I needed desperately and that was the only time I could go. I had found out that morning that I had accidentally gotten the Dulcolax suppositories instead of the pills and the doctors’ office reported it had to be the pills only. So to add to all my plans, I had to go by the pharmacy and pick the right stuff up. After all, I had to take 4 of those pills at noon! So I was running around town like a madwoman trying to hurry home to start on time. As usual for me, I was about 10 -15 minutes late. *chuckle* But no worries, I wouldn’t get a slap on the hand for it.
Things didn’t get truly difficult until I had to start drinking full glasses of Miralax every hour. I thought it wouldn’t be much worse than drinking water because the Miralax is clear and doesn’t have much of a taste. But the more you drink, the more you have this metallic aftertaste. Plus, you begin to fill extremely full. So I learned to spread it out a bit and not drink too much all at once. I found one tip online about chilling it in the fridge before drinking it. They give you nausea medication to keep you from throwing it up….yep, I used it. I think if I had known the tips beforehand to take in about 2-3 oz every 5-15 minutes of the chilled mixture of Vitamin Water/coconut water – I probably would’ve never needed the nausea medication. My instructions were to take two capfuls of Miralax and mix with the Gatorade. My last drink mixture was scheduled for 5 PM and you can imagine my disappointment when I realized there were almost another two capfuls still left in the bottle! The instructions also say to finish the entire bottle! I was a little offended, to say the least at the incompetency of these instructions! Well, what do I do since I know I don’t want to screw this up? I drink another mixture at 6 PM. (insert puking emoji)
No, thank God I didn’t puke but I sure wanted to!
Okay so now that you know about the ingesting part of it, let’s get to that first BM you’re awaiting and have no clue when it’ll arrive. I was amazed that it was almost 4 hours before it hit. And because it took so long, I wondered if it would hit later into the evening. So I felt pretty confident as I let out a gentle fart as I enjoyed a recorded chick-flick I’d always wanted to see. To my surprise, I pooped myself. I stood up, screamed, ran to the restroom, and began all the clean-up protocol needed! At this point, I began to find this rather comical and I began to laugh at the antics that occurred that night. I ran to the restroom about every 5-20 minutes trying not to poop my pants all the way there. I read a tip online to just camp out in your bathroom. Well, I would’ve needed at least a week to prepare my bathroom for even that concept to be possible. Perhaps, this blog post will prepare someone for that in time!
The only time I began to get frustrated and not very friendly with my husband was when he was going to bed. I’d been told I’d be pooping all night and not get any sleep. Even the doctor’s assistant even told me I was quite likely to be up all night. I was hopeful that it’d be different for me, since I was a pretty healthy eater with a small frame who never gets constipated unless I just had surgery or something. So when the time arose to make the choice of whether to go to bed or not, I panicked because I had no idea what my body needed or what to expect. I’d decided to put on a pad but at this point wished I’d bought adult diapers! I knew a pad might not be enough if I accidentally pooped in my sleep. So my husband suggested putting a plastic bag and towel on the bed underneath me. I need my sleep and really don’t like giving it up! So I figured I’d take my chances and try to go to sleep. By this time (11:30 PM), my intervals between running to the restroom had reduced down to 30-40 minutes. So I felt it was long enough to take some naps through the night. I ended up sleeping with no accidents until almost 2 AM. I was so grateful and thanked God. Went back to sleep after relieving myself and slept for 3 more hours. Again, no accidents. Yay! By this time, all BM”s were almost straight up water. I was concerned because there was still a little sediment but it was a yellow liquid. I’d heard that it needed to be completely clear with no sediment. But I did all I was supposed to do, I finished my prep so I knew if there was an issue the doctor would do an enema if needed. And I was right! The doctor actually said that it was fine – no enema needed. I’m sure every doctor is different, this is just my experience.
Day of the Colonoscopy
Besides the fact that I kept thinking I needed to go, trying to go, and nothing coming out – this was the easy part. I honestly didn’t even feel like anything had been done to my backside when I awoke, as well as the hours after I got home. I never felt any soreness in that area – if anything, I felt relief because during the time of constant pooping my rectum was raw with fire. But back to the moment I first awoke and they began telling me I had one polyp and they took several biopsies of the area. After they left me alone, I bawled like a baby thanking God for helping me to complete what I’d set out to do and it wasn’t just for the peace of knowing all was well. But there was a polyp that needed to be removed. I cried for the relief of knowing the worst was over.
They gave me instructions to eat bland small meals and then have a normal size dinner. Especially with a biopsy, I cannot stress this enough, small and bland are pretty important – I would even go further and suggest it as well for dinner. Because I made the mistake of having what I thought was a bland bone broth soup called Butter Curry. Apparently, Curry is considered spicy plus it was apparently seasoned with other spices. Needless to say, the bloating and stomach pain was quite difficult to endure for about 5 hours. Looking back now, I think I’d have been better off drinking broth and eating crackers. Plus, I read that they end up getting air inside you during the procedure so that has to be worked out as well. I asked one of the nurses if I’d be having any more diarrhea after the procedure, she assured me that I would not. However, that was not the case for me!
I’ve been continually going since I got home and even into the next day – though not as often. Even now, at the end of the day after the colonoscopy – I still can’t quite trust a fart. Not yet, anyway.