Due to a vengeful family history, I recently had my very first colonoscopy screening. This is a procedure that I'd been dreading since I found out I would need to get the scope done at the age of 36.
If you're in the same boat, perhaps you've noticed that there is a lot of fear-mongering going on all over the Internet regarding the prep itself. I know I did. Holy cow, I didn't know which part to be more frightened of: the prep or the scope itself. People, in general, will say that the prep is the worst part, and I wondered what exactly that meant. Was the prep so bad that nothing could top it, or was it not a big deal. None of the stories I read did much to ease my mind, so I vowed to write my own version of my experience when I was done.
I chronicled my prep in my post: The Non-Scary Colonoscopy Prep Story . Now that I'm done with the scope too, I figured a conclusion is in order.
The scope went perfectly. Truly. I was a bundle of nerves; I'm not going to lie about that. I had myself completely worked into a mess, after all. But the staff at the gastro clinic where I was going did an amazing job of talking me down from my self-incited worry. They were empathetic to my concerns. They were kind. They were patient. It was perfect.
They told me I wouldn't feel a thing. And I didn't. (Seriously. Nada.) I zonked out as they were putting the meds into my IV and woke up in the recovery room. Just like that. I felt fine--a little bit groggy, but that passed in a few minutes. In fact, it seemed weird that I felt fine. I mean, think of what had just happened, after all. How can you feel fine? But I did--totally and completely normal. I was in and out of the clinic within about an hour and half, with most of that time being the admission part, honestly.
Then I was on my way home---done with my first colonoscopy. My experience was NOT terrible. In fact, the entire thing was perfectly fine. Put another way, due to family history I have to have another scope done in 5 years and (are you ready for this?) I am okay with it. Completely. No worries. At all.
So, if you're scheduled for a colonoscopy and worried, or if you're tired of hearing only scary stories about the whole thing, I tell you this: You can rest easy. The "hardest" part of the entire process is the prep...BUT (and please, please take this to heart), the prep is not bad. It's the hardest part because you are literally asleep for the other part, leaving the prep as the only part you actually do.
Are you going to be skipping around smacking your lips while drinking the prep? No; but I have to think a natural aversion to liquid laxative is not a bad thing. Will you have to gag it down? No. Follow my tips and play music. Walk around while you drink it. Use a smoothie straw. Keep focused on just drinking. You will be fine.
How does the prep make you feel? Honestly, I felt fine. I had split dose Suprep. I had no side effects other than the intended one. The biggest thing is being able to drink 48oz of water in a short period of time. I practiced that a week before my actual prep; I drank 48oz of water at 12:00, and 48oz at 8:00. I felt ready and I had no issues. You'll feel full after drinking the prep, but walking around will move it on through. The extra water hastens the process as well.
Is it horrible when it starts "working"? Nope. Uneventful. I had gone on a soup/smoothie/yogurt/type diet about 4 days before my prep. The less you put in, the less you have to move out, after all. In any case, that part was easy. No cramping, accidents, or serious urgency. You'll spend some time on the toilet, but it wasn't hours or anything. The action started to fizzle for me about 3 hours after drinking the first dose of prep. I had a lull in bathroom trips, and I felt so good that my husband and I took a walk around town. I kept thinking, "Here I am, prepping for a colonoscopy, and I'm out of the house...walking." The second dose took effect more immediately because the first dose had done it's work so well. I was clear and done within 2 hours of it. I had a full night's sleep with no bathroom trips.
Here's the one important thing I will stress, though: be sure to drink lots of fluids during the prep. I talked about my beverage buffet in the non scary colonoscopy prep story and it turned out to be so important. If you're on a similar schedule, you won't be able to drink anything after midnight, and you've just guzzled lots of salt. You will be thirsty in the morning. I truly think that keeping myself hydrated during the prep (in addition to the water you drink with the prep) made this part so much easier. I didn't feel week or off balance or dizzy at all. No headaches or muscle aches either. Remember that your kidneys are going to be working overtime with this prep so keep your body hydrated and you'll feel fine through it all. Promise.
Don't be afraid of the prep or the scope. If you are, I understand; I was right there with you on that. Sometimes it just takes going through it for yourself that first time to ease your mind. Please take comfort in knowing that the prep is not bad at all. You will be fine. The scope itself is a breeze and you'll be on your way out the door before you know it.
This test is so incredibly important, and all the horror stories out there don't do much to get people to sign up for it. I'm hoping people will stumble on these posts and see that it's just not the scary experience some have made it out to be. If you've been in doubt about getting a colonoscopy, please don't let fears of the prep or test itself delay you anymore.