How not to prepare for a colonoscopy 2016.09.21


Prostates, placentas, colons—you never know what body parts you’ll read about in this paper.

I’m not really going to write about my colonoscopy because Vince the nurse anesthetist guy did such an excellent job knocking me out with no ill effects upon waking that I, of course, have no recall of the procedure beyond, “Lie on your left side.” 

But, I’ve witnessed David’s exit from anesthesia at least three times, and although it’s very funny, it’s also very disturbing how wacky his memory gets after he comes up from going under...not to mention the weird shakes and tremors he gets right afterward.

It’s the preparation-for-intestinal probing that occupied my mind last Thursday evening; it literally just slayed me. I had waited far too many years for my third colonoscopy. It’s like having a baby...wait long enough and you forget how much it hurts. I don’t mean physical pain, per se. It’s just the memory of the ingestion of gross stuff ahead of time that comes back once you’re in the throes of it.

About that preparation...I have some pretty serious advice: Listen to your doctor, do what he/she says—or at least what the preparation instructions tell you to do.

Do the Gatorade. Don’t buy the Santa Cruz Organic Lemonade because it’s on sale and you think it won’t be as sugar- or dye-laden as Gatorade. There’s 22 grams of sugar in every eight-ounce serving of Santa Cruz Organic Lemonade and you’re going to be drinking eight glasses of it. That’s 176 grams of sugar...nearly 3/4 cup of sugar. If I’m going to consume that much sugar, I’d far prefer it in several nice big pieces of chocolate cake.

The instructions had said drink only clear liquids so I figured I’d strain out the little bits of lemon pulp with a coffee filter. Now I understand why the word “drip” coincides with “filter.” I can’t stand the smell of coffee and would never drink it, so I’m not intimately aware of the limitations of coffee filters. Oy. So incredibly slow.

I gave up on the filters and once the pulp settled to the bottom of the bottle, I slowly poured the lemonade into a one-cup measure, tilting the jar back as little bits of pulp tried to escape, and then poured the cup into a large bowl, ultimately measuring out 64 ounces. All my big water pitchers had come up missing and I was improvising at this point. Again, it can not be over-emphasized: Follow the instructions; buy the Gatorade.

“Oh, my gawd!” David exclaimed during this process as it became clear how much liquid I would soon be consuming.

“What does that mean?” I asked.

“You’re not too quiet about your challenges in life,” he replied. He knew there was much moaning on the horizon.

I moved on to adding the whole bottle of ClearLax Osmotic Laxative (unflavored powder grit free) to my bowl of mostly pulp-free lemonade. 

Then, following the advice of Dianne Grieder, I dumped ice in my first glass of the stuff and added a straw. I’m a really slow drinker, but I downed it in four minutes. (Do follow Dianne’s very effective advice.)

“This is easy! I’ve got this!” I declared to David, now fully ready to move forward with the process of drinking the rest of the 64 ounces in two hours.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. The process starts earlier and you need to know this: If you’re going to wake up at 5:30 a.m. and leave your house at 6:30 a.m. the day before the colonoscopy to accompany your husband to prostate cancer-related appointments in Ann Arbor, remember to bring the Dulcolax laxative tablets with you so you can start the process as specified.

Don’t monkey with the schedule, figuring if you start the process more than two hours later than specified you can just stay up later to follow through with all the bathroom visits. Because if you wake up at 5:30 a.m., you aren’t really going to want to stay up until 2:30 a.m. Just do what the dang paper says.

Along about the sixth glass, I was ready to pack it in. I’d just get done with a glass and it was time to start another. Again, the having-a-baby analogy kicks in. It’s just like contractions; you get through one and another crops up on its heels.

Upper body lying over the kitchen table, loudly moaning and groaning, I check my phone.

“In three minutes, I got to do it again,” I lament.

“Told ya,” David says.

“Told me what,” I ask.

“You’d be vocal,” he says.

Last bit of advice? Lock your husband in another room during colonoscopy preparation.