January 17, 2007


I am going to describe my colonoscopy for you, in order to relieve the fear that some of us over 50s have about a routine test that we are all encouraged to have, if not earlier for non-routine reasons.

First of all, for two weeks before the test you must not take either aspirin or ibuprofen (Advil or Motrin) only Tylenol. Presumably this is because the former drugs lower the blood's ability to clot, which can be a problem in any internal procedure, especially gastrointestinal.

The day before the test, you must follow a liquid diet, meaning no solid food and only CLEAR liquids. This means clear juices, juices you can literally see through, NO ORANGE juice unless it is completely pulpless and transparent. No tomato juice. No RED juice, nothing red colored at all. Grape (purple) is fine. Liquids include frozen and jelled liquids so you can have popsicles, as long as they are made from juice not fruit, or just sugar syrup, Italian ice, jello, tea or coffee but without milk (sugar is fine) chicken or beef broth (with NOTHING in it). And you do this from midnight until 4 or 5pm the next day. (Note: this was the "Halflytely" protocol. Your may be slightly different. I was offered one with gatorade for instance but didn't take it.)

At 5pm I took the 4 pills in the package, which turned out to be bisacodyl or Dulcolax in an industrial strength. I was supposed to wait till 8pm or until I had a bowel movement to start drinking the Halflytely solution I had mixed that morning (a large container with a powder in it to which you add flavoring and water and refrigerate). I started drinking it at 8pm on the dot and downed one 8oz glass every ten minutes. It didn't taste bad at all. A little salty, with little flavor otherwise. Just a heckuva lot of fluid to get down in an hour and a half, at which point I had the runs but royally! Staying near the throne, but not on it, for an hour and a half helped a lot, but even after that several times I almost didn't make it. By the time I went to bed at my usual time around 1am the "runs" had ended nearly clear as water. (I would suggest that you start somewhat earlier than 5pm if you want to go to bed early as, for me, the diarrhea did not stop after the one measly hour they said it would, definitely not. In fact, I'm glad I wore rain pants to bed as I actually had an accident early this morning, due to the fact that I could not wake up in time (the Xyrem makes me sleep too deeply) to get to the bathroom. Sweat soaked me through during the night, though, I can tell you that! It's probably why I only weighed 91 pounds when I woke, that and a cleaned out colon!

My colonoscopy took place at 3pm so I had to wait till after 4:30 before I could even take my pills. But I could drink fluid up till 10am, which you can't do if your procedure is in the morning. But that frankly would be a lot easier than waiting all day.

When you get into the hospital, you disrobe and put on a johnny and robe and they take your pulse and BP and put in an IV (without anything attached yet) then, having asked a lot of questions about your health that you've already answered elsewhere before you go into the procedure room, where they place a pulse oximeter on your finger to measure your blood oxygen level, a BP cuff that automatically takes your BP throughout, and a few chest leads to measure heart functions. They attach your IV to the anesthesia apparatus and ask you to turn on your side. Sometimes they use a mask, sometimes nasal "straws" for oxygen. I asked, am I going to sleep now? I heard a "Yes." and the next thing I knew, someone was saying to Josephine, the homemaker/friend who had brought me, "She'll have to come back for a barium enema."

"You mean they didn't do it?" I said, rather disconsolate.

"Oh, no, they did it. It's all over. You are just waking up now," said the nurse. "But they couldn't get all the way up the colon. They tried, but it was too twisted. You're going to need a barium enema. We're on the phone right now, trying to get it arranged for tomorrow so you won't have to prep again."

"Oh, no," I groaned. "You mean I'd have to go through that whole thing again?"

"We're trying not to have you have to go that route."

Mercifully, all I have to do is not eat tonight, and tomorrow, bright and early, I'll have the barium enema and be done with this nonsense! BD

So it isn't too bad. Certainly no pain afterwards, and none during it if you are asleep, though you don't have to be. Then there is pain, but not unbearable. Both my parents have done it without anesthesia. I'm glad I was sedated though, since they had so much trouble it probably would have been much more painful than usual.

Posted by pamwagg at January 17, 2007 08:41 PM


You really ought to check into virtual colonoscopy. Still need to prep, but non-invasive x-ray type procedure.

Posted by: Kay at May 5, 2007 11:50 AM

Thanks, maybe I can get the oomph to get it done!

Posted by: Connie at April 24, 2007 12:54 AM

Hi Pam. An interesting read regarding colonoscopy! I hope all went well.

Posted by: Peter at March 9, 2007 09:30 PM

Congrats, Pam, on getting through the colonoscopy. I hope you got good news today.

Posted by: Debbie at January 18, 2007 04:23 PM

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