Many people who are diagnosed or undiagnosed may go through preparation for a procedure such as a Colonoscopy. This is where a thin tube with a camera on the end is inserted into the rectum and travels into your intestines.
Before I begin on the preparation drink information etc, I want to let you know that this procedure can save lives and can help get a diagnosis of what is happening. Usually the drinks they give you are either Picolax or Moviprep and sometimes Kleanprep which are laxatives to clear out the bowels to get a clear look inside. When I had prep, I found Moviprep easier to handle than Picolax however if constipation is something you suffer from Picolax can be a better option but it really does depend on what your consultant or appropriate person doing the scope wants you to have.
The first drink isn’t pleasant and I’m not going to sugar coat it and say “it tastes divine like a cocktail” because it doesn’t but you can make it taste better by adding diluting juice that you like to it, which can help make it more bearable for you. You can also put it in the fridge. With Picolax make sure you stir it and leave it to sit for a minute as it can be sore on your lips when newly mixed (just from my experience.)
A few hours later your letter or information sheet will tell you to drink the next sachet. Many people find that even after taking both, a few hours later nothing happens and are left wondering why it was even important to drink them.. that is until you feel the sudden need to run to the loo! It’s not pleasant but it does the job it needs to which is essential for your scope. If you are allowed sedation they will put an IV line (cannula) in a vein for direct access for the sedation, this is to help you relax.
There are some thing you can do to make preparation easier for you:
- Have some heat pads or a hot water bottle close by if you have pain/cramps.
- Keep a blanket in the bathroom near the toilet.
- Keep a bottle of water in the bathroom and by your bedside.
- Take some paracetamol to help with pain and sweating if going to the loo is making you sweat.
- Pads incase you don’t make it in time.
- DON’T plan to go anywhere!
- Keep your medication close by so if needed it is there.
- As said above, diluting juice.
- Comfy clothing that isn’t tight as you may bloat.
- For the 24 hours leading up and waiting, only drink clear fluids.
- Avoid taking iron tablets a week before your procedure.
- Drinking plenty makes the bowel prep work better.
- Using a straw to drink the prep.
My first Colonoscopy was back in 2012 when I was 17 and I was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis. The prep wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be, I found not being able to eat the hardest part! At the time I finished my second drink my mum was eating a tub of my favourite kind of pringles and I cried (ha ha.) I was terrified when I got to the hospital, clutching my hot water bottle whilst crippled over with pain, not knowing what was wrong with me.
I was given sedation and pain relief through my cannula and I felt quite tired and drunk! They first inserted a long tube which puts air into your intestines and then the flexible colonoscope with the camera and a light at the top. I found that the air was more uncomfortable than the procedure itself. Before I knew it, I had to fart and I didn’t know what to do. I lay there squeezing my cheeks and I couldn’t do it any longer. I said to the nurses in the room that I really had to fart and could I be excused, I was told to go ahead as it wasn’t anything unusual! So thinking only air would come out I went for it and I messed everywhere and felt terrible for everyone in the room and I was so embarrassed. I was so surprised that the nurses didn’t care, they’d seen it all before me! They completely put me at ease and held my hand through the tears of anxiety and embarrassment.
At the side there is a screen so the doctor or endoscopist can see from the camera inside you, if you are squeamish then don’t look. The endoscopist or doctor may also take biopsies to send away to the lab. Recovery took a few hours as I slept off the Sedation then I was allowed to go home, stopping at McDonalds first of course! Eating my entire body weight in fries and chicken! My rectum was quite sensitive for the next few days due to the wiping from frequent toilet trips. It can take a few days for your bowels to calm down and usually you do experience bloating from the air that is put inside your bowel so drinking plenty and walking around can help shift it. Taking paracetamol can help too.
I hope this helps you with your first time having a Colonoscopy.
-Alannah A.K.A Glitterygutsx