“The prep’s the worst part”- preparing for my own #colonoscopy

June 5th, 2013

I’m about to get a few hours of shut eye, but before I go, I’ll write a little about how I’m preparing for my own colonoscopy procedure, scheduled for 7 am tomorrow.

The back story of why I am getting a colonoscopy is a topic for another time. Suffice it to say I’ve had several mysterious, very short episodes of nausea and vomiting in the last few months, and I’ve had some rectal bleeding at times in the past. The rectal bleeding is almost certainly hemorrhoids, but with polyps in both my parents, it’s time to bite the bullet and get this over with.

The irony is that I perform this procedure for a living. I’m a gastroenterologist. When I started to have GI problems, I found myself in an interesting position. So here I am, sitting on a burning bum, trying to choke down MoviPrep and concerned I’ll miss my alarm.

A gastroenterologist cannot show up to her own colonoscopy with a poor prep. Ain’t no way I’m letting that happen. This is how I’m doing it:

I stopped eating anything with nuts, seeds, skins, fiber (essentially anything healthy) last Friday. That’s been incredibly tough. I’ve literally eaten crap like pizza and Mac & cheese for days. This is VASTLY different from my normal diet. Healthy foods full of good fiber cannot be removed from the colon during the procedure, and I didn’t want anything to obscure the view.

I started taking Miralax on Sunday night. Normally I recommend twice a day dosing for this, but I had to do my own scopes yesterday, so I didn’t take it in the morning.

I ate only puréed, liquid, or soft foods yesterday. I had a smoothie for breakfast, banana pudding and chocolate milk for lunch, tomato soup, Mac & cheese, yogurt, and chocolate mousse cake for dinner.

This morning around 6:30 am I had my last ‘full’ liquids (or creamy liquids)- almond milk with powdered peanut butter and chocolate, whey powder, and some ovaltine. The day before a colonoscopy one should ONLY have clear liquids. I figured I’d be OK because I generally have excellent bowel habits and it was 24 hours before the procedure. I’d also been ‘preparing’ for a few days already.

Since then I’ve had apple juice, two fresh juices from The Juice Joint in River Forest, IL, a liter of clear sparkling coconut pineapple drink, two big mugs of ‘doctored’ veggie and beef broth, and 3/4 of my colonoscopy prep: MoviPrep. That’s not what I prescribe, but it’s what my partner (who’s doing the test) ordered. One of the other docs in my group is doing it because my insurance is cheapest if I do things at my workplace. Therefore, when I needed a test that I do because it’s my specialty, that means one of my partners needed to do it. This person is the best endoscopist in the whole department, so I’m sure it’s going to be fine.

I’m going to sleep now, and I’m going to get up at 3 am to finish. I have to be done with liquids by 5 am. I’ll be fine. I’m already ‘clear’- meaning what’s coming out is a clear yellow liquid. I am so relieved because I was afraid it wouldn’t work!

Here’s what I’ve learned:

1. This stuff sucks. For real. It tastes horrible. It’s not the salty part, it’s the artificial flavoring. I’d rather it be unflavored. I truly didn’t understand that until now. Several other people have told me this, so now I know. I’ve only been successful by chasing it with non-prep drinks like sparkling water and broth. That has helped TREMENDOUSLY.

2. My bum is on FIRE!! I didn’t expect this but I should have. I know I have external hemorrhoids, and the prep is notorious for causing hemorrhoidal discomfort. I have cottonelle fresh wipes but they made it hurt way more, so back to plain TP, but only patting, no wiping. Wish I had some baby butt cream.

Last toilet trip then bed. We know from experience and from trials that splitting this up into two rounds is more effective, so I’ll sleep a little then get up again for round 2. I have to be done more than 2 hours prior to the start time.

Most people express great annoyance with the prep. Here’s my 2 cents, having been through it now:

it’s 24 hours out of my life and $5K out of my pocket. There’s NO WAY I’m screwing this up just because it tastes bad [it does] or I’m starving [I am] or I don’t want to get up early [I don't].

Suck it up and get it done. Your [my] gastroenterologist will thank you, and you will do the only thing you can to ensure a successful test.

One Response to ““The prep’s the worst part”- preparing for my own #colonoscopy”

  1. Anna on July 31, 2015 6:01 PM

    imcant believe you had to,pay $5k ($5,000!!?)!”out of pocket” for your colonoscopy. In Canada, it is covered by our medical insurance, and it’s price is listed at between $150 and $300. Where do you live?

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    About Me

    Professional Gastroenterology Fellow

    Amateur Martha Stewart/Bob Villa/Julia Child/Collette Peters