The colonoscopy is one of the many procedures that we all have to do at least once in our lifetime. If you have Crohn’s, however, you will most likely experience this test more than once in your life. Unfortunately, I've had 23 “scope procedures” completed on me as a result of my severe Crohn’s. To be honest the prep part of the test is not fun. There is really no way around it. When you schedule your test with your gastroenterologist, make sure that you make it a morning appointment. You will have to fast from the evening before the procedure all the way up to after the procedure. You will be hungry! At least if it is a morning procedure, you will be out and done early. Please take this into consideration, because you will get very hungry.
Your gastroenterologist will send you to the pharmacy and have you pick up a “prep” kit”. Whatever cocktail they prescribe you varies depending on the doctor, and what they are looking for. For the most part, you will have to drink a gallon or so of a powdery laxative that you can mix with Gatorade. Also, they might prescribe you a stool softener to ease the cleanse. When you get home, be sure to read all the directions that the doctor gave you. If you mess up the prep, they will cancel your procedure. You don’t want to do the prep again if you don’t have to!
If you are due to go down the road of the Gatorade and laxative cocktail, choose a clear Gatorade. I usually go with lemon-lime. Do not go with the red because it will be hard for the doctor to see anything when he has his camera inside you. When you mix your Gatorade and laxative, it will become a very thick substance. Pace yourself and follow the directions from the doctor. Usually, you have to drink a certain amount of the substance within a given time period.
I recommend you stay near a bathroom, and have plenty of toilet paper. The first couple of bouts of the cleanse is intense. A lot comes out! After things start to clear out of your system, you will just be releasing water out of your anus. Usually, you go to sleep soon after because you’re exhausted from using the bathroom. Remember, you cannot eat anything before your procedure.
The day of the colonoscopy
Arrive about an hour before your procedure, and wear loose clothing. It will be easier once they ask you to change into a hospital gown. They will ask you numerous times about the prep, and what was your bowel frequency, etc. You then meet with your gastroenterologist, and anesthesiologist, to make sure you are ready for the procedure. Usually, they don’t knock you completely out; they give you a “twilight” medicine that allows you to calm down. It seems like forever, but when the nurse awakes you he or she will tell you that the procedure was only a few minutes long. You might experience amnesia, so have somebody with you to write down what the doctor tells you.
After the colonoscopy
You might feel very gassy, but that is normal. The instruments they use actually pump air in your stomach. Don’t be afraid to break wind. Go ahead, let one loose; you will feel better. Plus everybody in the recovery room is doing the same thing. Finally, if everything checks out ok, they will give you some juice and cookies/pretzels, etc. You are not allowed to drive home after the procedure. You are not allowed to go to work, or make major decisions all due to the anesthesia they give you. Have somebody drive you, and make sure you get home.
Once you leave, go eat something! You will be starving. Then you should go home and lay down. Take it easy, unwind and take a nap. By the next day usually, you can return to your normal routine.
A colonoscopy helps the doctor know what's going on in the colon
All and all, it's an easy procedure. The prep is tough, but remember that it is very short-lived. Hopefully, soon they will find easier ways to conduct these tests. A colonoscopy tells the doctor exactly what is going on in your colon. That’s how they can make a plan of action. With any inflammatory bowel disease or syndrome, patients like myself have to experience this unpleasant test numerous times in our lifetime. You will get through it, just one step at a time.
Do you keep a food diary to help manage symptoms?