I Tried It: My First Colonoscopy

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I wrote another post about my top tips for the week before and the prep for my first colonoscopy here. As I mentioned in that post, I’m trying to take some of the stigma out of the prep. Seriously it’s not as bad as we are led to believe, although of course it’s not fun and  everyone’s experience is different.

Dealing with the low fiber diet
Every doctor has different requirements for the prep, and you should absolutely follow your doctor’s instructions. Mine had me start a low fiber diet a week before. You could easily go wild with things like bread and pasta, pancakes and french toast, but I was on a mission to eat as healthy as I could.

Mostly chicken, cod, asparagus, carrots, spinach, bananas, melon, sourdough bread, rice, pasta, and tofu. I did indulge in some vanilla pudding and vanilla frozen yogurt. It was bland and boring, but not too bad. I also indulged in some frozen belgian waffles on my long run day — although in the end they were just meh.

The Prep: what to eat
Ah, the dreaded prep. I know a lot of people find the day before the procedure to be hard — and not just because of the prep, because they’re starving!

I shared in my tip post about having jello for breakfast. I had bone broth for lunch and a late afternoon snack. You’re also supposed to drink 8 ounces of liquids every hour — I alternated Nuun (lemon lime) with tea.

I was never hungry. I did feel kind of bloated from all that liquid, even though I’m normally a well hydrated person, and of course there were frequent bathroom trips for the same reason.

I will also say I am used to a 24 hour fast once a year for religious reasons, and quite frankly colonoscopy prep was so much easier — the religious fast is no solid food at all; just water and tea for 24 hours. On the other hand, you can also eat well before you start that fast! I was never hungry during the prep at all.

Jello was very helpful in my prep!

Mixing up the Prep
Again I wrote about this briefly in my tips post here. The tip about the apple juice I shared there worked really well; I didn’t mind drinking the mixture at all. I also used a straw, which always makes liquids go down easier.

I had made jello a couple of days before: mix 2 Tbsp gelatin with 1/2 cup chilled white grape juice (that was the flavor I chose, anyway). Let it thicken.

Pour the remainder of the 32 ounce bottle of juice into my large (8 cup) glass measuring cup. Heat the 32 oz of juice in the microwave until warm (this is so the gelatin and honey will mix evenly with the juice), then pour in the jelled juice mixture and mix well so any clumps break up and it’s a smooth mixture.

Lastly pour in half a cup of honey and mix until dissolved. Honey loses its health benefits if heated so never heat your honey! Pour into smaller containers, refrigerate overnight,  and voila! Jello.

I used that same large measuring cup to mix up the prep. I’d already chilled my apple juice, so I measured out 32 ounces, added half the prep mix, mixed well, and then divided it between some mason jars. Repeat for the second half.

The Real Prep
There are apparently different types of preps, but again, stick to your doctor’s guidelines. I was doing a split prep, which meant I took some laxatives (pills) in the afternoon, then chased that two hours later with half of the above prep mix.

You drink that over the course of about 2 hours, and I found I started to go right about the time I finished. I continued to go over the next couple of hours, but it was never as though I didn’t have enough time to make it to the bathroom.

I was also able to go to bed after that and sleep a few hours, although it was somewhat restless. I woke up about an hour before I needed to drink the second half, and realized I had time to practice some Yoga Nidra (a deep relaxation technique), which helped much more than just laying there trying to sleep. I have a similar video here.

Then it was time to repeat the same procedure of drinking the prep, in my case starting around 4:30 am — I am often up that time anyway, but of course I’d only had around 5 hours sleep plus, well, you know.

Another tip that didn’t make it into my tip post: get some diaper wipes and coconut oil (or diaper rash cream). I used the coconut oil, since I already had it, and the wipes. I think you can figure out what both were for.

They had me stop all liquids two hours before the procedure. Again I wasn’t at all hungry, even though this was my longest fast ever. TMI alert: You know you’ve done your prep correctly if you’re basically peeing from your butt, and you’ll know it when that happens.

The drive to the doctors office was no problem, the 30 minute+ wait at the doctor’s office was no problem, and they offered me a bathroom right before the procedure, which I used.

Was I Aware During?
Not at all, and that’s exactly what I wanted. In fact, I know that I got dressed, went down the elevator, and met Mr. Judy afterward but I actually have little memory of that. Which jives with the time I was knocked out to have my wisdom teeth out — they read me instructions afterwards, Mr. Judy said I was nodding my head, but I have no memory of it. Come to think of it, the wisdom teeth extraction was actually a lot harder than this! The recuperation, anyway.

I have read of some people who wake up briefly during, but personally I’m glad I slept through the whole thing.

Final Thoughts
I think the worst part of the whole thing for me was actually getting the IV put in! I am a hard stick in the best of times, but of course there’s really no way to avoid being somewhat dehydrated. The nurse failed on the first one, and it was somewhat painful; she brought in a pinch hitter, who was successful, but even that was a bit painful. I had a lovely bruise afterwards.

Colonoscopies save lives. They are not fun, but they are not that bad either. It’s a relief to know that at the moment I am cancer free there, given my family’s history: my Dad had polyps, so even though I didn’t, I still have to have another colonoscopy in five years.

Everyone’s experience is different, but don’t let the horror stories of the prep stop you from getting this life saving test!

I know that this post really doesn’t have anything to do with running, but most of us fold in running to a healthy lifestyle. Getting the tests we need to stay healthy helps to keep us running!

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Linking up with Zenaida Arroyo and Kim @ Kookyrunner

This week I am also joining up with the new Runners’ Roundup linkup.

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27 thoughts on “I Tried It: My First Colonoscopy

  1. These are great tips, Judy!
    I had my colonoscopy three years ago and I didn’t prep well. I got to the peeing-out-of-my-butt stage but the doctor showed me on the photos later on that my colon wasn’t as squeaky clean as my husband’s. I should have read your tips!
    The procedure itself was great – I don’t remember a thing of it! 🙂
    And the tea and crackers afterwards were delicious.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. My prep was a lot easier (and quicker?) than yours seems to have been. I think I had a 3-hour period of drinking the “stuff” and then numerous trips to the bathroom. I think my bathroom stops were pretty much done by early evening, then I just hung out (at home), slept and got to the hospital for my 8:00 procedure. I don’t recall anything of the actual procedure either, though apparently I did walk (assisted) to the room…I hope I didn’t flash anyone, along the way, with the open back of my gown. I took the day off from work, but I probably could have worked that afternoon because the recovery was pretty easy. Other than the prep (and actually only about an hour of that was “yuck”), it really wasn’t a big ordeal.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It really all depends on your dr. Some don’t do such involved prep, but this one does — and many others do it that way too.

      One blogger I read has had many, and she claimed she never needed to drink all the prep, but it really wasn’t that bad so I just did it.

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  3. Health is taking care of all parts of us and it includes tests like these! Thanks for sharing your tips. It sounds like prep went well for you and I like the jello idea!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Good tips! I made the mistake of thinking I could still run during the prep and I was sooooooo hungry. I did wake briefly during my test and then was put right back to sleep. No issues though. I did ask my husband to take a picture of me while waiting after the procedure and I didn’t remember that at all. It was hilarious when I saw the picture on my phone!! I’m glad your test went well.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Due to COVID my husband couldn’t come in & visa versa when he had his, so no photos. 🙂

      I already know I could never run on a fasting day like that! Although one year Yom Kippur fell like 2 days before a half. I knew I’d be ok, and I was! I could never have done one ON Yom Kippur. Well, I suppose I could if I had to, but why would you do that to yourself?

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Yes! Yes! It truly isn’t that bad. My prep was a bit different- I didn’t have to do a low fiber diet or anything like that. I did clear liquids only the day before, drank prep#1 in the evening, then drank prep#2 in the morning. There are two different kinds of prep liquids as well, apparently. Mine was a saline prep. Both have the same effect though!
    The procedure itself is a breeze. And you actually wake up feeling amazing! You will either be told that everything is perfect, which is a huge relief, OR, if there’s something there, you definitely want to know about it. My sister had a colonoscopy and they found a malignant tumor- but luckily it was stage 1 and she is now fine. It’s not something you can just ignore. Get the colonoscopy!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It would have been nice not to have to do the low fiber diet, not lying, although it kind of jives with the standard American diet.

      I have read that tit seems as though there’s a movement away from it. Who knows, maybe for the next one I won’t have to do that!

      Glad to hear your sister is ok.

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  6. These are great tips, Judy! Thank you for sharing them with us. I haven’t had one and not sure when I will. One of my sisters had one either last year or two years ago and was the same age I am now.

    Thank you for linking up with us!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. My colonoscopy was almost 10 years ago and I remember the prep as being pretty tough, mostly because I don’t fast well and I’m always hungry. Other than that, the procedure was easy (though I always get a headache when I’m put under).

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I have a family history of IBD and colon cancer, so I know I will have to get one sooner than later (I was actually supposed to have one once, but insurance wouldn’t cover it and I was just out of college). I’m admittedly nervous about the prep! I had an endoscopy and it’s like you said, you don’t remember anything about it.

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