Baby Boomers – Have you experienced a colonoscopy yet? Most people have their first screening around the age of 50, and then repeat every ten years. But if you have a family history of colon cancer, or other stomach issues, then it’s a screening every five years.
I had my second colonoscopy on Wednesday, May 4, 2016. It had been ten years, and since I’m moving and changing insurances this summer, I thought I’d better take the plunge now, and get it done. So I decided to share my experience with you, and then at the end, you can share your tips in the comments section.
Prep for a colonoscopy
The prep began on Tuesday at 5pm. I had to drink 6 oz of combined sodium sulfate, potassium sulfate and magnesium sulfate with 10 oz of water, and then chase it down with 32 more ounces of water, all within one to two hours.
It was grape flavored, which helped a little bit, but the salty taste was overbearing, like drinking water from the ocean. It took me 20 minutes to drink that first 16 ounces. I still shudder thinking about it. Ugh. Drinking the next 32 ounces of water afterwards wasn’t bad, just filling. I felt bloated as if I was a balloon ready to pop.
My first tip is to drink chilled bottled water instead of tap water. I was done drinking by 6:15pm.
And then you wait.
By 6:30 – it was time to run to the bathroom. I made the mistake of leaving my cell phone behind – so no internet surfing between flushes.
Here are two more tips: Stay close to the bathroom (so you don’t have to keep changing your clothes), and use very soft toilet paper. Your behind will appreciate it.
For me, most of it had passed by 9pm.
But the process wasn’t over –
I had to set the alarm for 5am and do this all over again. What was I thinking – scheduling this screening? I surely didn’t want to suffer through another glass of that nasty stuff!
Here’s another tip: after each drink of the meds, take a sip of water and swish it around in your mouth. It helps take the salty taste away.
This time around, I just stayed in the bathroom for almost two hours. It wasn’t worth trying to leave, because everything that went in, was running back out. (I know – TMI!) My last run to the bathroom was at 8:30am. Right before I left the house.
Time for the screening –
My appointment was scheduled for 10:30am, but they wanted me at the hospital by 9am to get settled in. Two nurses came into the room and both did their own thing: one got the IV started, and the other asked me the medical History questions.
They said the doctor was running ahead of schedule (wow, how many times have your really heard that one!?) and so they apologized for rushing. It didn’t bother me. I asked them when my ride should come and they said 10:30 – that I would be able to leave by 10:45. Nice.
So the prep was by far the worst part of the colonoscopy. They wheeled my bed into a room where I was told to roll onto my left side and then they put the sleep medicine into my IV and it made me fall asleep within a minute or so.
And then I felt a nudge. The nurse said it was time to wake up. It was over in ten minutes. Crazy. They pushed my bed back to my room, and after having graham crackers and a cup of water, I was free to go.
Of course, they told me they found a few polyps that were taken out and sent to the lab for a biopsy. They said that was pretty routine, so I’m not worried about it.
Time to go home
They sent me home with instructions not to drive until the next day, so the anesthesia had time to wear off. I enjoyed a two hour nap, which was nice. And now I’m good for another ten years! Yay, me!
Feel free to share your experiences in the comments below.