Colonoscopy Prep

So yeah, I’m getting a colonoscopy tomorrow. No worries, it’s a routine check-up thing, but it’s been on the calendar for a while… and the big day is tomorrow.

For a long while, Liz has been wanting me to get checked out (more out of caution/concern). In talking with my primary care physician, I learned the general age for men to begin getting colonoscopies is around 50 or so. And there was a higher risk in younger men with false positives.

But it turns out, the recommended age for screening got changed recently, and it’s 45.

Lucky me.

So! With a lot of apprehension and palm sweats, I’ve largely been ignoring this looming deadline until right about now. A lot of things have to happen starting the day before the procedure, so I’ll try to recap it all here.

Never had a colonoscopy before, but I’ve heard stories. Few of those stories are really encouraging, but I’m just squeamish about hospital/body/medical stuff in general.

So! One of the big things before the procedure is that you need to clear out everything in your system. Because the doc will be looking around in there, and doesn’t want anything in the way.

Starting the week before, no seeds, nuts or corn.

Starting the day before, no food. You can drink clear liquids (coffee and tea are ok, but no cream). Avoid red and purple color liquids. Things like apple juice, white grape juice are fine. Broth is ok. Just nothing solid.

Recommendation is to also drink a lot of water, because you’re going to get dehydrated due to… the next steps.

So prior to the procedure, I picked up this jug from the pharmacy that contained a bit of powder. Kind of looks like a mini container of antifreeze. It’s empty save for about an inch of white powder at the bottom.

Day before, you fill this thing up to a marked line with room temperature water. Shake, and put in the fridge (apparently, having it chilled makes it easier to get down). Then, starting at around 4PM… you drink.

Straight up: this thing causes diarrhea. It’s designed to “clean out” your system, so that there’s nothing in the way during the procedure. So you can imagine what happens when this stuff kicks in.

The day before my procedure, I was working from home. I dropped Liz off at the train station, picked up a coffee… and what I walked by the bathroom upstairs, I spotted this little gift that Liz had left for me.

My wife, ladies and gentelmen. God bless her.

Here’s that jug I was talking about, alongside a Brita filter for comparison.

And here it is, full up with water (shaken, not stirred).

I started around 4PM, drinking 8 ounces every 10-15 minutes. I set a timer for myself, and slowly sipped the mixture at intervals. There wasn’t much of a taste to it, a slight hint of lime but not overpowering. It was chalky and felt a little thick, depite the liquid itself being perfectly clear. Imagine drinking protein powder: it was about 1/4 of the feel of that consistency.

The goal was to drink half of the container (with the remaining half to be consumed at a later time). I actually got through almost all of it without much discomfort.

Towards the end, the last 16 ounces were a little rough. I felt a little bloated, and ever so slightly nauseous. I had heard, from Julie and Bob, to not try to push myself – because I didn’t want to drink so much to the point where I threw up the mixture.

Thankfully, I never got to that point. From the stories I heard from others, previous approaches required drinking a lot more than what I had to deal with. I think Bob’s mixture was around 2 gallons or so? Mine was, in total, just a bit over a gallon. Not too bad.

It took me about an hour and a half or so to drink all that liquid down. And while the instructions said to expect to need the bathroom at around the one hour mark, it was more like two hours for me (it was weird to be in this “expecting” state of mind the whole time).

My joke was that I was going to have need some “personal time” in the bathroom. And I was holed up there for what seemed like maybe an hour and a half, two hours. I made sure to bring some reading material.

There were a few times I thought I was done. And then a few minutes later… nope, not done.

The hardest part of the day, honestly, was going without food. I got pretty hungry around noon, but after 3-4PM or so… I stopped feeling any discomfort from hunger. One thing I didn’t really do was drink enough water. Part of me wonders if that actually helped me, in drinking all the solution down.

In the evening, I was sipping on some apple juice for dinner while Liz had leftovers. For the most part, I just lazed around with not much energy. I ended up going to be a little early.

My procedure was for 10:00 AM the next morning. But here’s the fun part: I still have the second half of that container to get through. Only halfway done, remember?

Before going to sleep, I set my alarm for 4:00 AM.

Seeing a Side of Me I’ve Never Seen Before: Visiting the Ear/Nose/Throat Doc, Northwestern

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