I just had my first colonoscopy with Dr. Charron whom I met with before my colonoscopy. Prior to that, I was a colonoscopy virgin. I have no family history of colon cancer and I’m a Caucasian female so I had one at the standard time, 50 years old. Results were good. Two benign polyps which were removed during the procedure. And peace of mind. (Did not get a good still of Dr. Charron! You’ll have to wait for the video.)
The sedative and the office surgery suite
What I appreciated most of all about the kinder colonoscopy at CRS was the sedative and the surgery suite. If you’ve ever been to the hospital, they are far more strict regarding things like fingernail polish and whether you have on makeup. Not that I got dolled up or am big on pink fingernail polish but sometimes the hospital list is too generic and exhausting in all the things you can’t do prior to some minor procedure. There are rules at CRS, of course. It is an accredited surgery suite. But it’s far more personable and more private. And that makes the process a lot faster.
At a hospital, there is more waiting and it’s colder. In other words, you are more like “just another patient waiting for a procedure”. The staff at Colon & Rectal Specialists is very nice and not nearly as rushed as hospital staff. They are not twiddling their thumbs but they can make time to fetch you a warm blanket if you are cold.
I’m jumping ahead of myself and we need to discuss, ahem, the bowel prep
There is no way to make this fun. It isn’t. But I’d rather do the pills than the juice. And since I qualified (no renal problems), that’s what I chose. I started taking the pills at 4:30 (thirty minutes late!). But it was not until 30 minutes after the 8pm dose that it hit. And boy does it hit. Below are some questions and answers I had during the process. Remember, all this is from a patient, not a doctor.
Q: How long from the first “cleansing” experience will it last?
A: About 3 hours. There are some residual episodes during the night, but they are what I would call ‘after shocks’. But during the time it hits, make sure the john is nearby. Do not run errands or take the dog for a walk. Do not pass go or collect $200. Stay near the john.
Q: Were you starving all day?
A: I was hungry but OK. By the time the prep hit, I was not hungry at all. I also was not hungry the next morning but I was thirsty. I was glad mine was early.
Q: Do I really need to drink all that water?
A. YES. YES. YES. You will squirt out a TON of water in this process. Drink Gatorade or anything with electrolytes or potassium salts. Coconut water (my choice) is good as a natural electrolyte if you are diabetic since Gatorade has no less than two liters of sugar per container. Coconut water can be found in the nature section of most grocery stores. And it’s a clear liquid so you can drink it the day of.
Q: Do you feel nauseous?
A: I usually get very nauseous. But managed to avoid this by drinking weak ginger tea throughout the day. I cannot drink sugar or artificial sweeteners, so I made ginger ale with stevia as well. Yes, you can make your own from ginger at the supermarket. I think it made a difference. I felt just a tad nauseous around 7pm and quite frankly not great but I did get some sleep.
Q: Will I be able to sleep?
A. Ask your doctor if you can start an hour earlier if this is a concern. But when I was done and was sent home, I was wiped out and slept for 4 hours like a rock. I did sleep the night before. I had to get up twice. Some people have a hard time sleeping, however.
Q: The the sedative make your nauseous or wipe you out?
A. I LOVE the sedative they used. It takes you and drops you off in Egypt for shopping and while you are there they are doing their thing. It’s instant. Instant asleep. Instant awake. Almost instant anyway. When you wake up, you are alert. I despise Demerol which is what most other practices use. Hate it with a passion. Most told me they were completely oblivious and did not remember the entire day.
Q: Will I get dehydrated?
A. I get dehydrated just talking about dehydration. I made some pedialyte (can’t do Gator Ade due to sugar and/or artificial sweetener). Or you can get some at the drug store. You don’t need a ton of it but you can do the pedialyte popsicles. Avoid red or orange ones, though. Cocoanut water in the nature food section. I still got dehydrated but they got me hydrated quickly with the drip when I arrived and I felt much better.
Q: Will my bum hurt?
A. It will during the prep. But not after the procedure. At least it did not in my case. See below for some precautions to minimize bum sensitivity during prep process. Bum sensitivity seems isolated to that prep process only with little to no residual effects.
My best tips (from a patient):
- Do not eat meat for two or three days before the prep
- Prepare your favorite jello flavors in quantity (except red or orange flavors). Have popsicles, chicken and beef broth, white grape juice, electrolyte drinks (not red flavors) on hand in large quantities
- From another patient since I had pills: If you have to do the liquid, keep the liquid prep well chilled, on ice even, use a straw to bypass the taste buds
- Drink as much water as possible
- Buy extra soft toilet tissue and baby wipes without alcohol, and make sure they say “flushable”. Witch hazel wipes are good and soothing
- Pat dry, do not rub
- Use A&D ointment or vaseline BEFORE and AFTER each bowel movement
- Consider taking some reading into the bathroom and hanging out a while instead of running back and forth
This is a potentially lifesaving procedure so sign up for your colonoscopy!