A colonoscopy can detect many forms of colon cancer early; even so, many people dread this procedure. So what does it entail? During a colonoscopy, the doctor uses a long thin tube that has a camera to get a clear look at your rectum and colon for any polyps, tumors, or other suspicious looking growths.
The procedure usually lasts between 30-60 minutes. While it may be awkward, it is unlikely to be painful--just a bit uncomfortable. In fact, many report the prep leading up to the procedure is usually worse than the colonoscopy itself. Fortunately, there are great ways to prepare for the procedure AND to make the prep more bearable.
Getting Ready: Part 1- Planning and Consultation
Your doctor will give you thorough instructions for what to expect through the process. Be sure to inform them about any and all medications you take, as certain medications may interfere with the prep and procedure. In your planning some things to think about are:
- Loose comfortable clothing
- Choosing a comfortable setting
- Purchasing needed materials such as:
Part II- Pre-diet and Fasting
Three or four days before the procedure, you will need to start modifying your diet to include easily digestible foods. Some examples are white bread, pasta, rice, cooked vegetables with no skin (except for corn, broccoli, cabbage, beans, or peas), fruit without skin or seeds, lean meat, chicken, fish, and eggs.
You will have to fast starting the day before the procedure. You will be unable to eat any solid foods and can consume only clear fluids. Be sure to stay hydrated. Sodas, teas, and coffee without cream are okay, but they counteract your hydrating. If you drink them, then drink two cups of water per one cup of these liquids. Broths, gelatins, and ice pops are your new food friend until after the procedure.
Part III- Purging and Day of Tips
The night before you purge by drinking a half-gallon of a strong laxative, and finish the purge process drinking another half-gallon six hours before the procedure. Some tricks to make the taste more bearable are:
- Mix it with a flavored sports drink or powdered drink mix.
- Keep it well chilled.
- Suck on a lemon slice or piece of hard candy after drinking.
During this time, comfy clothes, bathroom proximity, and having wipes and diaper cream handy are key. Applying diaper cream before diarrhea starts will add comfort. Also, have a good book, magazine, or device to watch tv to help pass the time. Have someone drive you to your appointment and back, and wear adult diapers to protect against accidents.
Colonoscopies may seem intimidating, but there is nothing to it. All you need is the right planning and the right products.