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Colonoscopy Tips

Posted 8/21/2013

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  I have been debating about whether to write this particular post, but have come down on the side of sharing some really useful information and helping to make this topic slightly more acceptable and public. We know the facts about screening colonoscopies saving lives, and we also know that no more than 50% of Americans who should have them do so. Easy to understand wanting to avoid this test, but that is a particularly bad decision if you have already had cancer. There is not a link between breast cancer and colon cancer (except for a rare gene mutation), but we have all learned that our bodies can make cancer, and we are really living in Denial World if we pretend that we are now protected from other problems.

  It had been five years since I last had this procedure, and I surely have not been happily anticipating the repeat engagement. I remember standing at the kitchen counter five years ago, gagging on the prep drink, and thinking I would never be able to keep it down next time. Consequently, after sadly learning that there has not been a marvelous discovery of some new improved way to manage the prep, I made it my business to thorougly research the situation and learn any possible tips. There are some. It was not fun, and I got very little sleep last night, but it was way easier than last time. You might want to bookmark or save these in some other way; they will help when you next need to do this.

    At least at BID, an envelope with many instructions comes several weeks before the designated date. The instructions begin with a limited diet beginning three days in advance. This basically means you can't eat everything you (or, at least I) usually eat--no fruits,vegetables, nuts, whole grains, etc. Very bland  and boring. The research suggests, however, that folllwing these rules does make the prep go more smoothly and quickly.

  The day before--AKA the clear liquids only day.

1. Explore the grocery store and find some clear liquids that are new to you or that you don't otherwise drink. Yo will likely never again want whatever you drink this day, so don't rely on your favorites. I found some excellent French lemon soda and various bottled ice teas.

2, Chicken or beef broth are acceptable. Buy a few cans of chicken or beef soup (the kind with vegetables or rice or noodles). Strain out the solids and drink the remaining broth. It is much more flavorful than plain old chicken broth.

3. Consider going to a Chinese restaurant and buying one or two of their clear soups. Strain per above.

4. Gummy bears are allowed and make you feel that you are eating/chewing something.

The prep

1. Put the bottles into the refrigerator the day before. You want them very cold. Some people prefer an hour in the freezer, but I feared that would result in a slush that would take longer to drink.

2. Drink with a straw aimed as far back in your mouth as possible. This bypasses some tastebuds.

3. Biggest tip by far: Mix the disgusting prep with something else. I did half with double doses of Crystal Light (remember nothing with red dye) and the other half mixed with the above mentioned French lemon soda. Both effectively killed the taste. The mixture with soda did mean that the volume was doubled, but it was worth it.

4. Immediately after slugging it down, kill any after taste by sucking on a lemon or lime slice or a very strong mint candy or a sip of hot chicken or beef broth or ginger tea.

During

Set yourself up in the bathroom as comfortably as possible: choices of reading material, an IPad. Some people suggested a candle which seemed a bit much to me, but I was happy for a pillow and warm socks.

Every time you wash your hands, drink a glass of water. You need to work at staying hydrated--both because you will feel even worse if you aren't and because the IV insertion will be that much harder.

And now it is done for another five or ten years, and the peace of mind is well worth the anxiety and discomfort. Do it.

 

Addendum: Here is a comment and another helpful suggestion from Claire:

Try coconut water for a clear liquid. It helps prevent muscle spasms for me and our family comfort food, Werther's hard candies during the drinking of the liquid. Make sure you note the medicines used to knock you out, and whether you tolerate them. Water was the beverage of choice at the end.

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  • Claire Blum said:
    8/21/2013 1:59 AM

    Try coconut water for a clear liquid. It helps prevent muscle spasms for me and our family comfort food, Werther's hard candies during the drinking of the liquid. Make sure you note the medicines used to knock you out, and whether you tolerate them. Water was the beverage of choice at the end.

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