I Tried It: My First Colonoscopy


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!


Linking up with Zenaida Arroyo and Kim @ Kookyrunner

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