Colonoscopy “Hacks”

Obviously always check with your doctor and his/her instructions before you take anything during your prep.

Sooner or later, it’s time for all of us to get a colonoscopy. If you’re over 45, you’re overdue (or even younger, depending on personal and family history).

Every doctor has a different procedure, so be sure to check for instructions from your doctor’s office. But, I’ll cover the basics of the process (here in the States) and tips on how to make it easier. Most people say “the prep is the worst part.”

1st Dose of Sutab (12 tablets per dose – yikes!)

Prep generally starts 5 days before your procedure (sometimes a little more, sometimes a little less) when you have to go on a low-fiber diet. If you’re used to a lot of fiber in your diet (like me) that may make a massive change in what you eat.

First, let me give you this super handy 4-page guide from Kaiser Premanente. It lets you know what you can eat when you need the low-fiber diet for your prep. It’s printable and a great resource to have on the several days leading up to your fast day. Hang these and any doctor’s instructions on your fridge for easy reference.

Make sure that you read your doctor’s instructions carefully as to what you can and can’t have. If anything is unclear – ask. Your prep is key to the success of your colonoscopy.

Pre-Prep Shopping List:

  • Heat pad – this can help with the nausea you may feel from prep or any cramps you might have. I like microwave pads like this one. It’s what I usually use and it can go to the bathroom with you or the car.
  • Diaper cream or Vaseline (your butt is going to get irritated)
  • Baby wipes or flushable wipes
  • Straws if you have liquid prep
  • Treat yourself to a magazine or new book, you’re going to be in the bathroom a lot and will need entertainment.
  • Gas-X (Simethicone) – check with your doctor on this if you expect to have stomach discomfort to make sure it’s ok to take it. Some doctors allow you to take it right after you take the prep solution. It’s also useful to have after the procedure because you’re going to be gassy.
  • Underwear liners (just in case the prep isn’t done doing its thing when you leave for surgery)
  • Bottled water if that’s easier for you to keep chilled (which makes the prep usually go down easier)
  • Clear liquids that you are allowed per your doctor
  • Food that you are allowed per your doctor

Next, there’s this great video by The Holderness Family. If you’re fretting, watch this! Kim will make you feel much better. She’s awesome.

 

 

The day before your procedure, you traditionally will go on a liquid diet. On the liquid diet, you’ll have restrictions on “which” liquids you can have. The basic rules are no liquids with red, purple, or dark blue dye. The nurse told me it’s because those can mimic blood, so definitely don’t do it.

So what can you drink? How do you keep from feeling irritable because you’re hungry? Here are my favorite suggestions. You don’t have to be utterly miserable and stuck to lemon-lime gatorade and orange popsicles.

Lime Cucumber Gatorade 

One of my favorite discoveries. Check with your doctor on this one, but mine said it was fine. It’s pretty close to the lemon-lime flavor for color, but tastes way better. This stuff is amazing! It’s very satisfying and almost feels like food.

The cucumber is super refreshing and takes the edge off of the sweetness of the beverage. I’ve linked the listing to Amazon, but don’t overpay if the only ones left are from price gougers. I’ve found this at Walmart and other big box retailers at just normal Gatorade prices.

Pineapple Fanta

This stuff tends to be cheap, so again don’t get gouged by the link if the seller isn’t actually Amazon and the price is too high from the person selling.

Fanta also makes a Pina Colada Fanta that is white and it’s really good. It’s usually available at Walmart and Publix, but hard to find online.

Faygo

If you live in the North, you probably don’t need me to tell you what Faygo is. It’s amazing. I grew up on it. The flavors of cream soda, firework, twist, pineapple, moon mist, and ginger ale are all likely fair game for you. Dollar General carries some of the flavors if you don’t live in the North (where it’s literally at every grocery and convenience store).

Vernors

There’s a running joke in Michigan about how Vernors fixes everything. If you’ve never had Vernors, you should give it a try. It’s not like any other ginger soda out there. It undeniably has an uncanny ability to soothe an upset stomach far better than anything else I’ve found. It’s also very soothing post-colonoscopy.

Even the state police got in on the joke, outlined in this article, if you’re interested.

Altered Chicken Broth

This right here is my secret weapon against the crappy feeling that the liquid diet can give you. Use a clear chicken broth (I don’t think that bone broth is allowed – check with your doctor). I use Swanson just because I know that the people making prep rules know full well what Swanson chicken broth is when they tell you that you can have broth (I’m a better safe than sorry kind of gal). Heat it up. Then, in a huge soup mug, I add about 2 teaspoons of lemon juice. Sometimes I add more. The salty, tangy taste takes away any nausea and feels nourishing.

Other Ideas:

Since not all doctors give a nice long list of things to choose from, here are some other suggestions (again, check with your doctor:

  • Coffee and Tea (no milk)
  • Herbal Tea like mint or chammomile (don’t get too crazy on the herbal types though, as some interact with medicines)
  • Arctic Cherry Gatorade
  • Banana Popsicles
  • Lemon Italian Ice
  • Pineapple Italian Ice
  • Cream Soda
  • Ginger ale of any type
  • Jarritos brand Limon, Lime, Passion fruit, and Pineapple beverages (and possibly orange colored ones, see below)*
  • World Market has a large gourmet soda pop section, visit a store near you to check it out!
  • Lemonade and honey lemonade
  • Chicken broth (of course)
  • Bullion
  • White grape juice
  • Le Croix, Bubbly, etc (any of those flavored seltzer waters)
  • Apple juice (There are some fantastic gourmet versions in the single serve! I saw a honeycrisp one at Whole Foods)
  • Some doctors allow orange and blue and some do not – check to see what’s right for your prep and your procedure. If so, then orange and light blue popsicles and beverages are on the table. Explore your local beverage section!*

Once Prep Starts

Once you’re prepping, you may want to know if it’s working and what’s normal. This is a chart of “prep progress” and what to expect to see in the potty:

Credit: Gastroenterology & Endoscopy News

 

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