Don’t Fear The Prep!
I had my first colonoscopy screening at age 45 and have undergone the procedure three times since. I’m at risk because I lost my father to the disease last year. After diagnosing Dad in 2012, the gastroenterologist firmly told my brother and me to “run, not walk” to get a colonoscopy. I followed his advice to the letter.
During my first colonoscopy, pre-cancerous polyps were discovered and removed. I was shocked, as I had no idea that they were there! If my dad hadn’t been diagnosed with colorectal cancer – or if I had waited until I felt like it, or had serious symptoms – it might have been too late. The second colonoscopy was a year later, and everything was fine. Three years after that, I went back for my third colonoscopy and the pre-cancerous polyps had grown back in the very same place. They were too large to be removed during this procedure, so I underwent a right hemicolectomy to remove one-third of my colon. Needless to say, colonoscopy and I are the best of friends. It has saved my life twice. The “Get Screened” photograph of my fiance’ and I was taken exactly three weeks and 2 days after my surgery at a fundraiser for HCB2. It is where I first met Mindy Conklin and decided that somehow, some way, I wanted to be involved with her organization.
If you’ve been avoiding this important procedure due to fear of the unknown, or fear of what you may have heard about the prep, don’t be. It’s not that big a deal. The purpose of a colonoscopy is for the doctor to take a thorough look at the lining of your colon to see if there are any abnormal tissue growths (polyps). In order to do this, your colon must be squeaky clean, hence the prep. If I can do it, you can too. So here are a few tips and tricks that I’ve learned to take the fear out of the prep:
- If possible, schedule your colonoscopy for in the morning. I prefer around 10 a.m.
- The day before the colonoscopy is Prep Day. You will begin the clear liquid diet in the morning and start your laxative prep around 4 p.m.
- For all of my preps, my doctor prescribed the Miralax/Dulcolax tablets prep. It is super easy, and there is no yucky taste. See below for the actual prep/instructions that my gastroenterologist recommends.*
- For me, Prep Day consists of:
- Broth – I am easily nauseated when I drink broth, so I use organic chicken and rice soup. I strain the soup several times to where I only have the broth. For some reason, this is less greasy and easier on my stomach.
- Jell-O (orange and lime)
- Gatorade (orange and lime)
- Pedialyte (clear) and Ginger Ale
- Jolly Ranchers (watermelon and green apple)
- From morning until the prep begins at 4 p.m., I drink a mixture of Gatorade, Pedialyte, and water (1/3 parts each) to build up my fluid levels. I drink the broth that I made, and “chew” the Jell-O and Jolly Ranchers (it tricks my brain into thinking I’m eating!).
- After 4 p.m. the Miralax and Dulcolax will start to work their magic. You will go to the bathroom a lot, but it’s not painful. Just stay close to the loo! I highly recommend Preparation H moist wipes or any moist wipes instead of regular toilet paper. Trust me, your bum will thank you for it.
- The day of your colonoscopy is a piece of cake! During the procedure, you will take a really good, deep nap and be completely unaware. Then you go home and take another one. Two naps in one day! Who wouldn’t love that?
As I said, it’s really not that bad. I’d almost prefer a colonoscopy over a trip to the dentist, but that’s just me. The bottom line? What you’re doing could save your life. Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related death in men and women. You may have read too that it’s rising among young people, and recent guidelines now suggest you should begin routine screening at age 45.
While I am always nervous about the procedure due to my family history, I have never been afraid of the colonoscopy itself. Cancer thrives off of our fear. So, don’t be afraid. Do not empower cancer. Embrace the prep. Get screened. Your loved ones will thank you, and you will be victorious!
Cancer hates that.
For more info: Hitting Cancer Below the Belt, or HCB2, is a wonderful resource for comprehensive information about colorectal cancer, and they have a terrific prep guide and other resources at this link.
The legal beeswax: The information above is based on my personal experiences. I am not a doctor or a healthcare professional. Please consult with your physician before following any of my suggestions. The information below is taken from my gastroenterologist’s instructions for my personal situation. Yours may be entirely different. Once again, please consult with your physician.
Furthermore, I have not been paid to endorse any of the products mentioned in this article but would gladly accept payment if they so choose! 😊
To learn about the Daisy Blue products that are safe to use while undergoing Chemotherapy and Radiation click here: https://camelliablue.com/2018/11/15/natural-skincare-for-chemo-radiation-patients/
*My Doctor’s Instructions for Polyethlene Glycol (the same as Miralax) Prep*
You must stay on a clear liquid diet the entire day before your procedure.
As a rule – If you can see through it, you can drink it (no alcohol)
Beverages – Gatorade is the preferred clear liquid (no red or purple); clear juices such as white grape juice, apple juice, white cranberry juice (nothing with pulp!); plain coffee with no cream or milk; any flavor of soft drinks; tea; and LOTS of water!
Desserts – Gelatin, Jell-O, and popsicles, but NO red flavors, NO sherbets, NO fruit bars
Soups – Clear broth (canned or home-made); bouillon is allowed up to eight hours prior to your procedure
Sweets – Hard candy such as mints, lifesavers, etc.
Two hours prior to colonoscopy – Nothing by mouth, including gum and hard candy
Day Before Your Procedure:
4 p.m. – Take 2 Bisacodyl 5mg laxative tablets followed by 2-3 glasses of clear liquids
5 p.m. – Mix the bottle of Polyethylene Glycol 3350 (238g), which is generic for Miralax, into 64 ounces of clear liquid of your choice and begin to drink. Gatorade is recommended. Drink a glass every 15 minutes until you have finished 32 ounces (half of the solution). Place the remainder of the solution in the refrigerator.
Day of Your Procedure:
Five hours before your procedure, take 2 Bisacodyl 5mg. laxative tablets followed by 2-3 glasses of clear liquids. Begin drinking a glass of the Polyethylene Glycol 3350 solution every 15 minutes until you have completed the solution. You may have other supplemental clear liquids if you would like, such as water or coffee, up until two hours prior to your procedure. And remember nothing by mouth two hours prior to your procedure, including gum and hard candy.