Prepping for the Scope

I have ulcerative colitis and have had to undergo a wonderful procedure called a flexible sigmoidoscopy on multiple occasions. My (rather entertaining,  I might say) stories about all of the joys of this illness are captured in their appropriate categories, but here I'm going to talk about what it was like to "prepare" for the sigmoidoscopies.

In order for the doctor to see your colon, it logically has to be cleaned out. There are of course many ways to achieve this noble goal. When I scheduled my appointment, the nurse gave me a set of instructions.

The instructions told me to get an Enema-- Fleet's to be exact. And as if that wasn't enough, to also get some sort of beverage mix called Phosphosoda that makes you crap your guts out. 24 hours had to be blocked off. "Once you start, be very near a toilet" the sheet sternly warned. How ominous, and how omniscient.

First of all, call me lame, but being a relatively young guy (<30)  I don't really want to be seen buying Fleet's Enema's in public. I finally bit the bullet, but it was without a doubt very embarrassing. Insult to injury, the enema box itself has absolutely GIANT letters screaming "ENEMA" on what must have been every side of the packaging. That is entirely unnecessary, in my very humble opinion, as enemas are not exactly what I would consider an impulse buy, and anyone getting one will be specifically seeking it out. Tone the marketing down, Fleets company.  Literally unable to hide what I was buying, I could imagine that the people in the checkout line with me were looking at me, at the enema in my hand, then back at me and concluding that I was about to go shoot a gay ***** movie. What else would a young guy need an enema for?

Anyways, smartest thing to do: As long as you're buying one, buy the two pack. The embarrassment is only incrementally greater and at least you won't have to be doing this again for a while. Better yet, plan ahead and order online. Literally, surfing for *********** and buying embarrassing items is what the internet was invented for. And this Experience Project ain't so bad either ;)

While the enema garners all the attention, I also had to buy a liquid cleaning preparation, also by Fleet's, called phosphosoda that I would take orally. This box was much less ostentatious and I was actually fine getting it, since I thought that if the checker sees the 1-2 enema+phosphosoda combination, I presume they've seen it enough to recognize what's going to be going down, and that it isn't "Pirates of the Manibbean 2."

Anyways, rushing away from the scene of my infamy as quickly as possible, I went home and consumed the vile beverage, which tasted something like ocean water mixed with egg white. I waited. "Umm, nothing is happening" I wondered to myself, as the clock ticked by slowly. Be careful what you ask for, good folks.

About half an hour in, the gurgles in my stomach-- the likes of which have never been heard before coming from a human-- began. The thunder and the fury were one for the story books, with the porcelain bowl being pushed to its very design limits. if you have roommates, play some music or run the shower because this show you put on will give them ammunition against you for ages. You can bother getting up between strikes, but after a while, you start to wonder "why bother?". As 3 hours passed, I was simply pooping water. Trust me, you had no idea that the human body could poop gallons of water. Oh but it can. Just you wait. You'll feel just like you're urinating--except something has gone horribly, horribly wrong and you're using the wrong orifice.

After the cramps had died down and it was clear that things were leaving my intestine that had rested comfortably in there since junior high, I had to follow step two-- the enema. Enemas are, crudely put, liquid tubes you insert into your rectum, squeeze, and then wait for the results-- a cleansing of sorts.

The problem is, giving yourself an enema, especially when you're not generally used to shoving pointy objects into your rectal cavity, is nearly impossible.  The thing is "lubricated," which just means you are more easily capable of inflicting grave injury upon your sphincter. You either lie on your side or on all fours, and once it's "in," something you can never quite determine unless you have a complex series of mirrors, you have to squeeze theENTIRE bottle-- with one hand, mind you-- into you. This feels not so good. The part that makes it in you will give you a feeling you have never had before and will never want again. The remainder, a good amount if you're trying this alone, will turn your butt into an enema-juice sprinkler.  Bring towels. It isn't going to be fun or pretty.

Finally, you attempt to retain the consumed portion for as long as possible. At some point your body realizes that something isn't right and attempts to expel the invading liquid, along with whatever is left from your phosphosoda colon blow experiment. Which is basically nothing.

After all was said and done, I felt relieved that the chaos was over and just odd. Like I had been forced to do something traumatic that I didn't want to do, but a sense of pride as I had survived it anyways. A good-bad feeling.

Oh but more fun awaited me at my doctor's office. Read my entry on Sigmoidoscopy to check that experience out. I certainly will never forget it.
Andre2 Andre2
31-35, M
18 Responses Mar 25, 2006

Been there first time at home drink thick paste with no taste and up all night on toilet. Nothing found Second time in hospital stop eating midday then drink two large jugs of glue severe pain and ***** overnight 6 am nurse is not happy and I had to take suppostry difficult too insert as my insides were red raw. After scope once again nothing found. 18 months later waiting to see consultant on what causes the pain inside.

When I had colon surgery, the surgeon wanted me to drink GoLitely. This is a powder that also comes in a gallon jug, and I had to order it ahead of time as the local drug store doesn't normally have it on hand. When the time came, I was able to drink the first half gallon in the prescribed doses. But it was all I could do to get down the last half gallon over the next few hours. Fortunately a guy I was communicating with online suggested beforehand that I get anti-nausea pills, which are the only things that saved me.

When prepping for a colonoscopy, my doc has me drink a magnesium prep at 8AM followed by Dulcolax laxative tablets every hour until I've consumed 12-14 pills. The magnesium drink itself makes me uncomfortably nauseous to where I can't eat or drink any of the suggested products, and the feeling continues into the next morning before the exam. By comparison the exam is easy,since they knock me out. For some reason the nausea is gone when I awake.

I had to do a prep for my last colonoscopy about 8-9 months ago. I didn't have nearly as much 'fun' as you did.
The doc gave me a prescription for the Phosposoda - which was an empty gallon plastic jug with the packet of powder taped to the side. My pharmacy is in a supermarket so I got to carry that jug past all the checkout lanes. I am old enough that I never gave a thought to what anyone seeing the jug in my hand might think! Oh, the pharmacist forgot to give me the so-called flavor packets which are supposed to make the taste of the stuff more palatable so you can get it down. Don't bother with the flavor packets - they suggested I use crystal light lemonade instead. That made it possible to quickly chug each dose at half hour intervals. It was frankly the easiest bowel prep experience I can remember after (now) three colonoscopies.

Still remember my first Fleet enema for a sigmoidoscopy. It was embarrassing to buy in the drug store, then stand in the checkout line for all to see. The doc wanted me to administer it in the public bathroom in the building by lying on the floor. I was too shy to do that so sat on the toilet to administer it. It was fairly effective. I went into the doctor's office and removed everything below the waist. I lay on his table on my left side as he guided the scope into my anus. Unfortunately when he pulled out the center part, a lot more feces came out. He gave me another Fleet enema on the spot and a gown so I could use his toilet. After that I was ok and he completed the exam without any further problems. Next time he did a sigmoidoscopy, I gave myself the Fleet enema at home, in the knee-chest position. Usually worked in 5 minutes.I then headed to the doctor's office for the exam and didn't have any problems, though the lapsed time was more like 3/4 hour rather than the desired under 1/2 hour.

I had to clean out my bowel/colon in prepping for a series of x-rays that look at my urinary tract, last August. I did similar things. I took maybe four very small pills. I drank a bottle of something fizzy and citrus-flavored. I had the runs many times that day and night, my stomach gurgling beforehand. <br />
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You said:<br />
"As 3 hours passed, I was simply pooping water. Trust me, you had no idea that the human body could poop gallons of water. Oh but it can. Just you wait. You'll feel just like you're urinating--except something has gone horribly, horribly wrong and you're using the wrong orifice."<br />
I had the same experience and thought the same thing.<br />
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In the morning, before I went for the test, I had to insert and hold in for 15 minutes or so an ob<x>ject that was white and oily. Putting it in was a little uncomfortable, just sticking something into an opening in the body, and I couldn't be sure that it was in correctly. It melted some in my hand as I worked with it, which was another thing that made it difficult.

I had Colonscopy progress in the past of years ago. Three time It was scared me when I was start 19 yr old and had rectal bleed for no reason.<br />
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Almost twenty five years later, I got rectal bleed and the doctor never sent me to specialist and two years later I told GI about situation. he say your doctor suppose to referral colonscopy earlier. it make sure if it is not serious. End up I learn that I have had several of polyp and removed.

God Had this experience today (the wait in the line) lord ...its a lot funnier when I read your story then during the actual line. :P And as you said, I buy two. :P God love you for sharing. We all need to. :)

So, so funny and very similar to what happened to me when I had to drink the 4 liters of prep stuff the night before my surgery.

As a nurse who administers Bowel Preps on a regular basis, its good to hear the other side of it. I am aware of what happens obviously...<br />
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Here is a little information.<br />
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Your bowel preparations, are just as you say, salty. So with that fact in mind if you remember anything about biology and cell transfers and solutions, you can get why your stool will be water. Your "beverage" is a very salty hypertonic solution. With that said, your body is not, when your bowels received the beverage, they try to reach homeostasis, (which is normal salt levels in the bowel) to do this, they flood the bowels with water trying to dilute the salt in the bowel. In doing this you get a rocket jet one way ticket to the toilet. <br />
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Our instructions as nurses is to have the patient keep drinking till the stool is clear. Unfortunately the amount of bowel prep that takes usually is a lot since our normal diets do not hold as much fiber as it should. Your bowels gain and hold deposits all throughout them, so with a bowel prep, you will indefinably have to flush all of that out. <br />
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I'm sorry for your experience, but have solace knowing that I have to administer this experience to 2-6 people on a weekly basis.

have you ever thought of being a stand up Comic..The way you relayed the story was a RIOT !!

OMG that was so funny!

Thanks for the warning !! I'm scheduled for my first ever colonoscopy next week and now i want to do it even less than I did before !!

Oh my God you just scared the hell out of me.

again, laughing my guts out!!!!! your awesome in a creepy sort of way lol i know the prep experience. had kidney stones. you were writing about my experience with "fleet"

Any time I have to buy something embarrassing in a store, I pretend I'm getting it for my homebound mother or whoever it would appropriate for. Surely you would hesitate if your mom needed an enema brought to her from the store. I liked your story. Would give you a 5 if the prompt were "Medical procedures that humilitate" and the test were the FCAT Writing.

Andre, although I am so sorry this happened to you, I laughed until my sides hurt. I look forward to reading your sigmoidoscopy story. I do hope all is going well with you.

Thanks - you are not alone

I too had a bout with colitis and underwent your experience. But for my final prep I had to use a bullet- shaped soppository the size of an M-80 BULLet up my rear and hold it in for at least 15 min. before expelling! Worse, I couldn't get the damn thing in and my mother had to insert it in at the doc's office in a back room with me laying on my side in the floor!! Talk about humbling!!