I had my first routine colonoscopy today. Like most people, I’ve been dreading it for years.
Honestly though, it wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it would be. Everyone says the prep is worse than the actual procedure, and they’re right. It took twenty hours of “cleansing” the day before and a mere twenty five minutes for the colonoscopy itself.
I didn’t know what to expect and I was pretty nervous about it, so I did some research beforehand.
I found these articles particularly useful, especially the advice about what foods to avoid (I eat almonds or almond butter every day, and was glad I saw to stop at least five days before!) and to bump up the start time of the prep. My colonoscopy schedule said to drink the first bottle of magnesium citrate at 5pm and the second at 8pm, but I drank the first at 1pm and the second at 4pm and it worked perfectly. I was pretty much “all clear” before I went to bed at 10pm, so I was able to get a good night’s sleep with just one trip to the bathroom at 3am. I finished the third bottle in the morning and had one final bathroom visit shortly after.
- 12 Colonoscopy Prep Tips From Gastroenterologists to Make the Whole Thing Less Hellish
- 7 Things You’ve Always Wondered About a Colonoscopy
- Colonoscopy Prep: 8 Expert Tips for the Night Before
Here are some other things that I did that might help you too:
- On the advice of several people in-the-know, I purchased the grape flavor magnesium citrate. It comes in cherry and lemon-lime too, but apparently the grape is the best one. As I drank the first bottle of grape, I thought…ooooooh, this is actually yummy! By the second bottle, I was more like 🤮 and had to hold my nose as I sucked it down with a straw and brush my teeth immediately after.
- Which leads me to my next tips – put the bottles of magnesium citrate in the fridge a few days before and drink it with a straw.
- Make sure you wear comfortable pants that are easy to pull down when the urge to go strikes. 🤪
- You will be wiping a LOT. Get good toilet paper, flushable wipes and something to soothe your butt like this calming spray and this diaper rash relief. Vaseline works fine too. Even better if you apply them before you start pooping.
- Hunker down in the bathroom with some good books, podcasts or games. You’ll be there awhile.
- Although you can drink any clear liquids the day before the colonoscopy, I quickly tired of sugary apple juice and Sprite and switched to chicken bone broth at “meal” times and then just ice water until midnight.
- If you tend to be constipated, take probiotics (I take this one) for two weeks before to normalize your bowel movements before the colonoscopy prep. This PubMed article says, “Two weeks of probiotics pretreatment as part of bowel preparation significantly improves colonic mucosa visualization during colonoscopy and reduces preparation-related and postendoscopic gastrointestinal symptoms in constipated patients.”
- Bring a portable essential oil diffuser in the bathroom with you during your prep to freshen the air and to ease anxiousness the morning of your colonoscopy. Wild orange essential oil is my favorite for cleansing and relaxing.
After the colonoscopy, I rested in a recovery room for a while and was encouraged to pass gas. This was definitely the first time in my life that tooting was acceptable in public. 😳 I also had some crackers and cranberry juice, which was a tasty treat after not eating for 24+ hours.
- If you still feel bloated after your colonoscopy, walk around a bit or try this wind relieving yoga pose. This should help release any residual gas.
- Massage your abdomen with a gentle essential oil like frankincense or lavender.
- Don’t worry if you don’t poop for a few days. Remember, your bowel was completely empty!
- If you had any polyps removed (I had one), you may notice a little rectal bleeding for one or two days after. Don’t fret. (Of course, call your doctor right away if you have a lot of bleeding!)
- Though you can usually resume your normal diet, you may want to ease back into eating. LOL.
After weeks (ok, years) of worrying about this middle age “rite of passage”, I’m so happy and grateful that the procedure went well and that everything was fine. I hope this helps make your first colonoscopy easier and less scary.