Getting a colonoscopy is not something most of us want to think about. But as we reach age 50 (earlier if there’s a family history of colon cancer or other issues), it’s an imperative screening test that we all need to have.
I will tell you this – the test itself is not bad at all. A shot of propofol, a little nap, and boom. It’s over.
It’s the preparation for the test that is the real challenge.
For doctors to get a good look at the colon during a colonoscopy, it has to be empty. To check for polyps and diverticulitis and a myriad of other possible conditions, the colon has to be clean. I’m talking spic and span.
Unfortunately, there’s only one way to do this, and it’s not especially pleasant.
The day before the procedure, patients are prescribed a liquid that tastes sort of like the ocean. It’s not so much the taste, but the amount of this liquid that must be ingested in a roughly four-hour period the evening before the test: You need to drink 8 ounces of the chilled liquid every 10 minutes. Trips to the bathroom will begin about an hour later and will continue until the stool is watery and clear (which takes three or four liters of the solution. Give yourself a good three hours). After this, you can only have liquids until after your procedure (clear juice, soup broth and jello are good choices, but expect to be hungry).
Tips of the trade: invest in soft toilet paper, warm wet wipes and a good book. You’ll need them.
With luck, your test will be a good one, and you won’t have to do it again for 10 years.