Back to Basics: The Colonoscopy

Back to Basics: The Colonoscopy


Lately, a lot of friends have written on Facebook that they are having, or recently had, their first colonoscopies and about how awful they were or seemed to be. I have shared many times on Facebook that I have Crohn’s disease and am subject to frequent colonoscopies. I have done many preps and I know many ways to make them easier.

I’m amazed at how many doctors’ offices are not more forthcoming about, or flexible with, their preps. Many of my friends are given one prep and told to do it – no ifs, ands, or buts. They don’t realize that they can often choose a different prep that will work just as well and maybe save them some discomfort. I’m shocked at how many patients just do as they’re told without questioning. (I’m the great bargainer and often go back and forth with my doctor until we find something we can both agree on.)

The first thing is that unless you have high blood pressure, there are many different preps you can take to get the same results. Currently, my preferred prep is the Miralax Prep. I mix about eight ounces of Miralax into 64 ounces of fluid. Although doctors often recommend Gatorade, I put mine in diet soda since that’s what I like to drink. Instead of shoving it all down my throat in an hour, like they tell you to do, I drink it slowly over many hours, sipping it really, so it doesn’t feel too overwhelming.

Another good thing to get through the prep since you can’t eat is soup from your local Chinese place. Just take the broth and tell them not to put any of the stuff in it. This makes for a more hearty broth than buying basic chicken broth from the grocery store. It tastes like you’re actually eating something. Another trick for getting you through is chewing ice cubes made from your favorite clear liquid. Chewing seems to help.

Here’s another thing I will admit: I NEVER do the second part of the prep. I’m HORRIFIED by doctors who insist that their patients get up in the middle of the night to drink some more of the miserable stuff all over again. I can’t imagine that after all of your prep, you actually need this part. I’ve never done it, and I’ve always been fine. Once you’re down to clear or yellowish tinged liquid, you’re really done, and that always happens to me before that overnight dose. Ask about it. Find out if you really, really have to do it.

Remember that all of this is done for the benefit of the doctor. As long as you’re reasonably cleaned out, you’re going to be fine. The doctor has tools at his or her disposal to help if there are problems during the colonoscopy.

And lastly, ENJOY YOUR SEDATION.

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Note: IBD News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of IBD News Today, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to IBD.

7 comments

  1. Craig says:

    I am the same way. I went to a different doctor and canceled my current colonoscopy because they insisted that I drink this salty crap. I told them I had used the Miralax prep many times and it was safe for me. They didn’t care at all, so I went to a doctor that used it. I also never take the last part of it. They want me to get up early and take Magnesium Citrate, but no one could tell me why I needed to do this, so I didn’t and I never have had a doctor tell me that I wasn’t cleaned out enough. I think it is a just in case item.

    • Judy Walters says:

      Exactly, Craig, I handle it the same way! And I tell all my colonoscopy newbie friends to do the Miralax and not to do the second stage.

  2. Marcie says:

    I can’t get that drink down. I only weigh about 98lbs and I gag and can’t get it in my mouth, let along drink it. I cry and cry every time I have to drink that mess. It’s not worth the stress it causes me. It truly is the only reason I don’t go get my colonoscopy done, which I haven’t had one in over 16 years and was supposed to have them done every 2 years. I have had 3 recessions so I also suffer from short bowl syndrome. Now, that’s a lot of fun…..short bowl syndrome…. The way I see it is if I were passed out, or something, they’d have to find a way to do it without me drinking it so what is that secret…. I’m 54 and have had Crohn’s since I was 15 years old…I am so tired of this disease. If there is one thing I would like to share with folks that have recently gotten this disease, it’s even when you don’t have symptoms of the disease, you have permanent damage to your body, not just your bowls so please try to take care of yourself. Get plenty of rest and drink lots of water (that’s part of my problem also…I don’t care for water (except for Smart Water) and drink Pepsi…that’s so bad for me! BUT, if I didn’t I wouldn’t have the energy to get up and go to work everyday. It’s my coffee…without the warmth that stimulates my bowls). I pray you all find comfort because without it, this is a nasty disease which can cause you to change your life plans. It did mine!

    • Judy Walters says:

      You don’t have to get the drink down. Unless you have high blood pressure, there are several colonoscopy preps available that are a lot less harsh and easier to deal with. I’ve probably done 3 or 4 different preps. My last one, with Miralax, was the easiest. Any doctor, again, unless you have high blood pressure, should allow you to do a different prep. You have to be insistent. If they still say no, only that bad drink, switch doctors. You should feel the power to control the situation as best you can.

    • Natalie clark says:

      Me too and I was recently diagnosed and all treatments have not worked I’m in so much pain from my stomach to my joints I feel like this is never going to get better I’m doing everything they tell me yet I get worse now depression is setting in will it ever get better

  3. Current thinking is that microorganisms are taking advantage of their host’s weakened mucosal layer and inability to clear bacteria from the intestinal walls, which are both symptoms of Crohn’s.

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