I’ve learned a few things through the years by having Crohn’s disease. Some of those are small tips and tricks to get through a colonoscopy.
Most people don’t even know what a colonoscopy is until their parents get them, which was the case for me. My dad had to get a colonoscopy even earlier than the “normal” age because colon cancer and polyps run in our family. It was a great thing he did too because he had to get a softball sized polyp removed that was deemed non-cancerous but who knows what would have happened had the thing stayed in there! Anyways, I remember laughing at my dad as he chugged back his ginormous bottle of Gatorade and he sat on the toilet all night the day before his procedure. Boy oh boy did he ever get his revenge a few years later.
My first colonoscopy was over five years ago at the age of 20. I had been suffering from severe stomach pain, not being able to eat, severely anemic, and had lost over 30 pounds in a couple months. I asked my dad to accompany me to the hospital for my procedure since he had done it before and I stayed at my parent’s house the night before my procedure to do the prep work. As I gagged down the Miralax-Gatorade combo I remember thinking at first that it wasn’t so bad. Well, to put it mildly, eventually that night I couldn’t go more than 8 feet from the bathroom or I wouldn’t make it. And to be honest, there was a time or two that I DIDN’T make it. As if the whole process isn’t embarrassing enough, just add to it crapping your pants. Hence my dad’s revenge.
As I am preparing for colonoscopy #5 tomorrow, I figured that I could give some tips and tricks I’ve learned over the past five or so years to those of you that are preparing for a scope now or in the future.
Get Used to It
If you’ve been diagnosed with Crohn’s or Colitis, my first tip for colonoscopy prep is to get used to it. The prep work you do for a scope is also the prep work you’ll do for other tests and honestly, the sooner you come to terms with the fact that you will be doing it yearly or more, the easier it’s going to get for you.
Refrigeration is Key
The first time I had a colonoscopy no one told me that the prep will go down a lot smoother if it is cold. So there I was drinking room temperature Gatorade, gagging my head off. I used the white Gatorade called Artic Frost or whatever and to this day if I even get a whiff of that flavor I start to gag. ALWAYS refrigerate your prep liquid.
Store some books, magazines, a cell phone charger, or a tablet in the bathroom. You will literally spend so much time there that it will drive you crazy if you don’t bring anything with you. I usually read a book or watch a TV show while I’m prepping for scopes. I also find that reading or watching funny things helps me get through it a little easier. Like no one wants to sit in the bathroom all night, so why not at least try to laugh?
Go out and buy yourself some of the nicest toilet paper that you like and some baby wipes or flushable wipes. Literally, after going so much you will thank yourself for not using crappy (haha) toilet paper!
Diet Leading Up to Scope
In my experience, when I had strictures and a lot of inflammation, I actually started a liquid diet 1-3 days before the doctor’s recommended. Not necessarily clear liquids, but liquid like protein shakes and smoothies. Literally it made the world of difference in clearing my system out. I went from being in the bathroom for over 12 hours to like 6 hours. It cut my time in half! I know this might not work for everyone, but it does seem to work for me, so what do you have to lose by trying it once?
Most insurance companies cover colonoscopies 100% because they are preventative care. However, as a 20-something that’s on her 5th colonoscopy, it’s better to check three times than be sorry! If you are under 40, I suggest having your doctor send over a pre-authorization to your insurance company every time! Otherwise, you might be looking at a very expensive bill and having to call the hospital and your insurance company multiple times to figure it out. If you’ve been diagnosed with IBD then this is routine preventative care and they should understand that, but sometimes they just need a little nudge.
If you have a tip that you think I’ve missed, please comment it below so others can see! We each have unique experiences and no one journey is the same, but something that’s helped you might just help someone else!
Here’s to finding out if I’m in remission or not!