Oh Terrible Bowel Prep
By Zac Woodruff, RN BS
Anyone who is scheduled for a colonoscopy has to prepare for it, not just mentally, but physically. You simply can’t just decide you are getting one, walk into your appointment, and get the results that you want. You must prepare your bowels, and oh what terrible fun it is.
Today I’m continuing my month long look at preventing colon cancer and I’m going to share with you my experience with preparing my bowels for my colonoscopy.
Here’s the thing, if you are going to get any test, you always want optimal conditions so that the test has the best opportunity for accuracy and reliability. In order for your doctor to be able to see everything he or she needs to; you need to be absolutely, positively, unequivocally, cleaned out.
That makes sense though right? Imagine trying to find a small crack or hole in your driveway, when the entire driveway is covered in dirt and mud. Nearly impossible right? Now if all that dirt and mud was washed away and your driveway was completely clear, the chances of finding that small crack or hole increase exponentially. Such is the case with a colonoscopy.
Bowel prep usually begins the day before your procedure with a clear liquid diet. For me, that meant Jello, chicken broth, and Gatorade. A few times, I felt like losing my mind because I was so hungry, but I reminded myself that I wanted to have a good colonoscopy and I knew the importance of being cleaned out. That was usually enough to help me pull through the hunger and remain focused on my clear liquid restriction.
Some doctors have their patients drink this stuff called “GoLytely” which is a bowel cleansing solution (kind of funny name for a drink that really makes you go heavy!), but Dr. Giss had me use a combination of Dulcolax tablets, Gatorade, and Miralax. I also had some mag citrate on standby if needed, but trust me the Dulcolax/Gatorade/Miralax combination did the job just fine.
In the afternoon I started with the Dulcolax, which is a stimulant laxative. It acts directly on the bowels, stimulating the bowel muscles to cause a bowel movement. In the evening I took some more Dulcolax tablets and I dissolved a large amount of Miralax (like ½ a bottle large amount) in one liter of Gatorade. I drank that liter over an hour’s time and soon after that, I was spending some time in my trusty ol bathroom.
Man… That combination really got things moving. I have to confess too, my stomach was pretty upset throughout that time. I knew it was to be expected because I was in the process of completely cleaning out my bowels, but it was more unpleasant than I anticipated.
After 90 minutes to two hours of discomfort, I finally caught a break in my bathroom usage frequency and I laid down for a short nap around 7pm. I slept for a few hours, used the bathroom a few more times, and then prepared for the final leg of my bowel prep journey.
At 11pm, I prepared my final liter of Miralax/Gatorade, and over the next hour, I drank it down one cup at a time for every 15 minutes. Needless to say, I was up until 2am, with many, many visits to my bathroom.
All in all, I counted 15 trips to my bathroom. Yes, 15.
I know that sounds like a lot over the course of one evening and night, but by the time I was all done, I had nothing but clear liquid coming out of my system and I knew I was ready. (No need for the mag citrate baby!!!)
I finally went to bed around 2am, dredding the pending 5am alarm clock. At 5am, my wife and I woke up so that we could be to the hospital by 630am, and be ready for my 730am procedure.
While we were driving to the hospital, my wife and I were reflecting on my bowel prep experience. It really was much more involved and draining than I thought it was going to be. However, more important than anything, I knew I wanted to have the best possible conditions for my procedure, and I was very proud of myself for completing the entire recommended bowel prep.
When I arrived to the special procedures area of our hospital, I was excited to see a friend of mine getting my room and equipment ready. The first thing my buddy Corey asked me, “did you complete your bowel prep?”
Oh you know I did my man. You know I did.