When I was having flares (for Crohn’s disease), and they had trouble diagnosing me, I had to have lots of tests, like “colos” (as the are commonly called when you are an IBD patient at my clinic) that were quite frankly unpleasant and the prep medicine was noxious (the other not-so-fun test is called a barium enema, so that involves basically drinking metal that they follow down from your esophagus to your stomach and into the large intestine).
One thing some doctors aren’t good at is telling you the details, so, if you are new (and possibly nervous), I advise doing your own research. In my own case, especially since I have a chronic disease (though I am in remission now, thanks in part to the SCD), I usually take great care in my prep for the test. The problem is we are all busy and sometimes don’t have time to plan and take the necessary time to prepare.
If you approach the colonoscopy with a positive attitude (as if were a “cleansing” kind of thing), you will be less anxious, at least that has been the case in my experience. (As an aside, my father used to love the lightness he felt after the test, since he was always trying to loose weight!) However, it is not always a pleasant experience for people, and many are anxious about it not working fully and being embarrassed. I am sure that the doctors and nurses have seen it all, really, but that doesn’t help when it is you as the patient!
Back when I was first being diagnosed in the late 1990s, I was given the Fleet enemas to use, however many hospitals don’t recommend them anymore. Laxatives can be very dangerous and can cause problems, especially in the elderly, or people in the midst of IBD flares, etc. Since UC/Crohn’s diagnosis and preventing colon cancer is a huge concern, the test is important and should be done—in my case, yearly; but most people over 50 who have normal results can go less often obviously.
The delicate balance within the body to maintain homeostasis is something you don’t want to throw off. The goal of the color “pre-prep,” is to draw water into the gut to flush it out in order to get the best and most accurate picture for the test.
A few days before my test, I start eating lighter: I usually have small frequent meals anyway as part of my regular IBD-prevention/anti-inflammatory diet that I follow from Dr. Black’s naturopathic recommendations.
Soups, like clear organic chicken broth, are the best for maintaining an electrolyte balance. You don’t want to load up on foods that create bulk in the gut at the time that you start this process, the more you have to eliminate–you will be more comfortable if you don’t have to deal with so much of it 🙂
The prep that they ordered for me to take is called “Halfytel”TM (I hate those cute-spelling names for things that make you feel bad!), which induces catharsis (which is increased motility of the gut), and it does that by a combination of the electrolytes and the osmotic effect, that is drawing more water into the gut–there is sodium and polyethylene glycol (electrolytes) in this product. The Bisacodyl tablets that you also take the day before and the morning of your test are basically “stool softeners,” and they produce a direct irritant action on the gut that also increases motility (the speed and contractions of the gut). When you speed this up, it literally pushes everything along. How is that for a description?
So two days before, I eat small frequent, less-bulky meals: clear soups, fat-free things, small portions of skinless baked chicken, and simple, SCD-approved things like applesauce. The day before the exam, after breakfast, I follow a clear liquid diet—green tea, water, plain natural gelatins (commercially called Jell-O, but like the natural stuff without refined sugars). You cannot have any solid food, and it is important not to drink anything dark red or purple (like grape juice).
So, you order the prescription five days before, and you drink the HalfLytely, or Nulytely, the morning of your procedure—only clear liquids until two hours before. I arrive at the hospital at 9:00 and you check in and then hang out. They give you a drug that totally relaxes you (I cannot remember the name—Versed?), and that really helps! Usually, I can go home by 12:30. Many times, I am awake during the procedure, but I know my medical team so well, that we usually joke around. You lie on your side and it is important to have a highly skilled doctor perform the test, because there is a risk of bowel perforation (sounds as bad as it is!).
After my colonoscopy, I usually reintroduce foods SLOWLY and keep a food journal, to make sure something doesn’t irritate me—I start with tea, then add applesauce, turkey, etc, lots of healthy organic food. After a few days, I get back on my vitamin, Omega 3, flax and probiotic supplements—going slowly; obviously, you can’t drink alcohol around this time, or sodas and unhealthy, or fried foods, if you follow the SCD, but people shouldn’t eat that stuff anyway—I don’t eat any processed food at all, no sugar, no wheat, for almost five years now! I live on fruits and veggies (and I added rice back in after I was fully in remission with no problems, and I added some caffeine, too) and proteins—I also drink lots of water. I wrote this piece mostly because I was asked by an reporter to give her some information about colonoscopies, so I thought it might be helpful for people on Adam’s site, and mine, too. Now, back to stacking wood for winter!