Colonoscopy Journal

Journal from my 2nd colonoscopy (Feb 2010)

My first colonoscopy was performed about 8 years ago and on my first colonoscopy I had 5 polyps removed.  I am actually one year late from based on the reminder I received last year.

For my first procedure I was given phospho soda for the prep for the procedure.  Unfortunately it has been determined that this nasty tasting medication has significant health risks.  It is unfortunate because you only needed to drink two of the 3 ounce bottles taken a couple of hours apart.  Once the solution was properly chilled and mixed with ginger ale or other low/non carbonated liquid it was very quick and easy to get down.

For this procedure I have had to purchase a prep kit at the price of $47 and given additional tablets by the doctor.  The HalfLytely powder is sealed in a fairly large plastic bottle that when mixed with water will yield 2 liters of fluid.  The kit contains 4 flavor packs (pineapple, orange, lemon/lime, and cherry or you can mix it with crystal lite.  When the time comes on the prep schedule, I will have to drink it at a rate of 8 ounces every 10 minutes.  Yuck!

Two days prior to test:

There are a few limits on what you cannot eat and supplements you should not take and they are clearly outlined in the instructions.  The main thing that I will have to do is take the three 5 mg Dulcolax pills somewhere between 3-6 PM. According to the drug information, the action should begin within 3 to 6 hours after ingesting the tablets.  I am thinking that 4:30 PM would be a good time.  That would allow me to enjoy(?) dinner and hopefully be done with phase I in time to get a good night’s sleep.  You really don’t want to have any social plans after taking these pills.  No matter when the real action starts these pills (at least for me) started a lot of bowel noise and movement of gas.

By 11:30 only very little has happened other than the rumbling and tooting so I am giving up, taking a shower and will try and get some sleep.  My shower is complete but those pills are either loaded with caffeine or I have more anxiety than I am aware of because I am still wide awake. 

After reading until 1 AM I am giving up, turning off the lights and hope that sleep will win out. 

At about 1:30 AM the FUN begins.  I am experiencing light cramping and the urge to purge.  Off to the bathroom I go.  As I sit here, the cramps progressively get worse and worse in evenly spaced waves at about a 1 minute interval.  The sensation is very much like being constipated and having diarrhea at the same time.  I strain harder and harder with no results for about 8-10 minutes.  The pain from the cramps gets very intense and it is bringing on a little nausea that is only noticed when the pain is cramp is reaching its peak.  This is very similar to the experience I have had during multiple episodes of kidney stones.

Just when the cramps are so intense I am wondering if I am going to throw up, scream, or pass out, things finally break loose.  It takes a while and several cycles to get through this first bout and each cycle involves moderate cramping with the same gotta go but can’t go sensation.  The pressure finally lets off and I feel like I have really emptied myself out so I get myself cleaned up and head off to bed.  I get really warm and comfortable and start settling down for a good night’s sleep when the urge starts building again.  The cramps are now where near as bad but the gotta go but can’t go sensation remains the same and a lot of effort is needed to get the job done.

I’ll compress things here and just let you know that this continues until around 4:45 AM.  I finally drift off at a little after 5 AM.  What a night.  Now I am wondering what my second dose of 3 pills will be like later today.

The big tip for this phase and for what will follow tomorrow with the HalfLytely is to have some really soft toilet paper, some moist wipe (like PreperationH or similar), some petroleum jelly (believe me you will know when, where and how to use it) and something like the PreperationH Cooling Gel might be helpful also.

One day prior to the test:

This is the day of no solid food and nothing but clear liquid to drink.  Any liquid or Jell-O can be any color other than red.  I have loaded up on a couple of different Gatorades and juices for variety.  Having gone through this once before I don’t see much value in eating Jell-O so I will just stick with the liquid and those wonderful 3 pills I have to take later.

I wake up at around 8:20 AM and have to get up no matter how sleepy I still am because at 9 AM I have to start drinking 8 ounces of fluid every hour.  The first stop is back to the bathroom to finish off the all night activity.

At 9 AM I have my first 8 ounces of Weight Watchers Ginger Ale to settle my stomach down a little.  I really hate most diet drinks and this stuff almost has the opposite effect.  At 10 AM I switch to the Tropical Mango Gatorade and it is going down pretty well.

12 PM and I have just had my fourth round of 8 ounces of liquid and everything seems to be OK.  Lots of bladder emptying but other than that no problem.

4 PM and I have not had any problem drinking the fluid on schedule.  I managed to get a 45 minute nap to make up some of the lost time from last night.  I also took the final 3 Dulcolax pills.  I am hoping that I don’t end up with the cramps I had last night.  One more regular intake of clear liquids and then the fun begins with the HalfLytely go juice.

6 PM The fun be with the HalfLytely.  I have kept it plenty cold and mixed it with Crystal Lite and the lemon/lime flavor packet that came with the kit.  I am drinking it through a straw so that the saltiness is not so sever on the front of my tongue, which seems to be a big help. Two 8 ounce glasses have made it down fairly easy.  No action from the Dulcolax yet and the HalfLytely is not as disgusting as I was lead to imagine.  Kind of tastes like flat 7-Up with a half shaker of salt in it.  It is not great, but not that bad – YET!  I think the biggest problem will be trying to get that huge quantity of liquid down in the amount of time allotted.

6:23 and glass number 3 is down.  I am getting bloated feeling.   Things are churning and I think I am about ready to have a launch cycle.

6:40 and I am half way through my liquid delight intake.  And it is just in time to head back to the bathroom again.  If the interval keeps getting shorter, I may have to have the next glass while I am seated.  The best thing for me is that it is still going down fairly easy.  There is more to drink that the phospho soda from the last procedure, but actually this is better tasting.  No matter what you take, I believe that the concoction matches the description that humorist Dave Berry describe.  The fluid you drink has the ability to go into the future and bring back food you haven’t eaten yet.

The great news is that there are no cramps.  I have just finished glass number 5 and have three more to go until I am finished drinking the go juice.  In my opinion, it is more gentle on my system than the phospho soda with the added benefit of not having to worry about permanently damaging my kidneys.  I do have a slight headache, but I think that is more from the lack of sleep last night and sitting around all day doing nothing but drinking fluid.  The dehydration hangover headache will probably hit later.

7:30 and one more dose to go.  Things are pumping nice and clear (if you know what I mean).  Just like the last time, the prep is the worst part.  The little “star fish” gets pretty tender but the petroleum jelly helps a lot.  After 7 glass the only problem I am having is with the cloying sweetness of the mixture.  I think that is mostly because I really hate the taste of artificial sweeteners.

7:50 and the last glass of HalfLytely has been finished.  What is coming out is clearer than what is going in.  Now to see how long the cleaning will continue.  The last time I went through this I was up until around 1 AM and woke up early the next morning with still more to contribute.

It is approaching 9 PM and things seem like they are fortunately slowing down.  I will not take any chances until I know only dust will fly.

10:30 PM and things are still flowing in spurts.  Still no cramps or other discomfort but about every 30 minutes the instant impulse to go do “something” hits.

The day of:

I got to sleep last night with no problem and then woke up at around 3:20 AM to use the toilet again.  Not bad, just a fairly quick trip and back to sleep.  This is much better than that last time eight years ago.

I woke up at around 7:30 and I have to be at the medical center at 9:00 AM for a 9:30 appointment.  I actually feel very good and do not have the dehydration hangover headache I experienced for the last treatment.

9:00 AM I checked in and signed a few papers and after about a 15 minute wait I was taken back, weighed, answered some questions, signed some more papers and told to get naked and get in the gown.  Within a very few minutes the treatment nurse came in and hooked me up to the IV and pretty quickly rolled me back to the exam room.  The heart monitor was connected and they asked me to roll on to my left side.  I was getting drowsy and the last thing I really remember is the nurse pulling the blanket and gown off my but so the doctor had access to his work area.

The next thing I remember (and only very marginally) is someone telling me I could get dressed.  The problem was, I couldn’t stand up on my own and I could find my clothes with a tour guide and a map much less figure out how to put them on by myself.  I don’t have much concept of time after that, but my wife says that around 10:15 they called her back to help me get dressed.   When she came back, I was still on the gurney and had been given a cup of ginger ale and a straw.  I don’t know why they did that because I kept dozing off and soon managed to spill the drink on myself.  Fortunately I was still in the gown and not my own clothes.   Around this time the doctor came up and explained to my wife that they had only discovered and removed two tiny polyps and everything else was very good.  They got me cleaned off and my wife said I somehow managed to help her get my clothes on and then I found out I could not walk well enough to leave.

They brought in a wheel chair, got me on board and we headed for the elevator.  I can remember some of this in only very vague short blurry snapshots.  My wife told me I kept asking where my glasses were and she was very patient each time telling me they were right on my nose where they belonged.  I also kept telling how big the gown was…I mean it was really really big.  I can’t really remember getting into the car and don’t recall any of the 15 minute ride home.  I can kinda sorta remember some of the walk under my own power to get from the car and into the house.  The next think I knew was I had my sweat pants on and I was stretched out on the sofa waiting for waffles.  By that point I was back in full awareness and the waffles were very close to one of the best meals I have ever had.

That pretty much wraps up the experience.  I spent most of the rest of the day catching up on the sleep I missed on Saturday night and sleeping off the rest of the drug’s effects.   My digestive system is starting to work normally again and on the whole, other than the Dulcolax induced stomach cramps, the only other pain I had was from my poor aching back that was totally unrelated, but did make it difficult to get up in a hurry on those occasions when I didn’t have much time to waste.

Sorry this came out so long and I hope everyone else going through this experience have problems that were as few and insignificant as what I faced.

The big message is don’t put off something that is so important just because you don’t want to face a little discomfort for one day.  The day before is what will remain in your memory.  The procedure itself will just remain a mystery to you and only the results are important.  So take that suggestion from Nike and “Just Do It.”

GopherM GopherM
61-65, M
3 Responses Feb 22, 2010

I just finished off my drink mix...I used gatorade in mine.I hope this was okay to do? I took 2 dulcolax earlier today. I have had one bowel movement so far..will I have more and be ready for my test in the morning? I sure hope so. I hope I want have to go through this again.

I have had both done, but not on the same day. During the interview for my first colonoscopy 8 years ago the doctor was discussing my medical history and questions about persistent heartburn and indigestion. He thought I might have a hiatial hernia. I was having other problems which pushed the need to get the colonoscopy done more quickly so he scheduled the endoscopy for several weeks later. Turned out I did have a hiatial hernia and some small ulcerations in the esophagus. I was put on Prevacid and have had very few problems since then.<br />
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Hope that both of your procedures go well. Things are much funnier to you after the whole thing is over with than when you are imagining what it will be like to go through it.

getting ready to start the run for being scoped from both ends at same time