Colonoscopy Prep Part One

I didn’t press “Publish” on this. It should have been posted on the 29th of June. But…

I start my prep for my colonoscopy today. You/I prep for a colonoscopy in 2021 by not eating any solid foods the day before the procedure and drinking a prep solution (In my case it is called SUPREP) twice beforehand to clear out the colon of any residue (poop).

So, I ate my last solid meal yesterday night (Monday night) and I kept it simple. I have been dealing with chronic diarrhea (diarrhea that lasts for weeks or months or will not go away) with mucus and blood on and off since December 2019 and I have been eating things that don’t create a lot of residue (poop). Low residue foods are foods that are low in fiber, which is, surprisingly, “white” foods” white bread, white rice, white pasta, etc.

Side Note: This is a kick in the pants. I just started a diet in November 202 that emphasizes eating whole foods, especially whole grains, like brown rice, whole grain breads and pastas, etc. White foods are on the forbidden list. I just spent months excising them from my diet only to learn they were aggravating my GI tract and increasing the frequency and severity of my diarrhea.

The colonoscopy prep puts you on a liquid diet: any liquid that isn’t red or purple (confuses the colonoscopy results or scan), which means , water, sodas (like Sprite or 7Up, ginger ale), sports drinks, coffee or tea (no cream, milk, or creamer, but sugar is fine), broth or bouillon, clear fruit juice without pulp (like white grape juice, white cranberry juice, apple juice), popsicles and Kool-Aid (except red and purple), and lemonade without pulp. Jell-O is the only thing you can eat on prep (or remotely call food), except red or purple.

So…my last meal was low residue and simple: Cream of Wheat cereal, scrambled eggs, peppermint tea (good for calming the stomach) and cherry Jell-O. I had cherry Jell-O because I can’t have anything red today and I hadn’t had cherry in a long time.

I took off Tuesday and Wednesday so I turned off my alarms and went to bed, determined to sleep as long as possible to make my food-less day as short as possible.

I know people go without food longer than a day because of fasting or poverty or other reasons, and it isn’t really a major ordeal, but it is my first time doing it, and I am nervous for some reason.

i Wake up once around 4 Am, go to the bathroom and go back to bed.

6:16 AM – I wake up and decide to lay in bed. I don’t have to take any prescription meds until 8 AM, and I am going to eat my first bowl of Jell-O right before then, so there is something on my stomach.

7:01 AM – I get out of bed because I am thirsty. I drink some water from the double-walled steel tumbler on the kitchen counter, where it should not be. It should have been by my bed, filled with cold water from the refrigerator that I could drink whenever I wake up feeling hot, But I forgot it. I am forgetting a lot of things lately. Getting older?

7:03 AM – I take the tumbler and A 34 oz. bottle of Arizona Sweet Tea to the living room. I have discovered that the caffeine in tea does not aggravate my bowels and give my diarrhea the way the caffeine in coffee always does, and I have started drinking tea in the morning, especially Arizona or Brisk. I can buy large bottles at Dollar Tree for a dollar. I don’t need that much tea in the morning, but I like a deal.

7:10 – 7:50 AM – I sip tea, slowly. No diarrhea. I feel exuberant, like I have cheated Fate. I have three 3-pound bags of Columbian Supremo coffee beans in my apartment that I am not touching until my GI tract problems get solved, and it’s a shame. I love my morning coffee with lots of creamer.

7:50 AM – I eat a bowl of blueberry Jell-O. It tastes’ good, not great. I’m hoping the Jell-O can trick my stomach into thinking it’s food so I don’t get any hunger pangs or growling. I am going to eat on my normal schedule and have one or two bowls depending on how hungry I feel. I take my morning pills with this meal.

7:50 AM – Noon – I alternate between water, Gatorade, and tea regularly to keep my stomach feeling full and stay hydrated. I feel fine, but the worst is yet to come. I take the SUPREP at six.

NOON – I debate about when to have my second bowl of Jell-O, now or at 2 PM, when I take my afternoon meds. I decide to eat now. Then I’ll have two bowls of Jell-O at six and that should hold me for the rest of the night. I can still have another bowl or two tomorrow. This time it’s pineapple and it doesn’t taste nearly as good as I imagined it would. It barely has a taste. I was dreaming of – expecting – something pineapple-y and sugary and what I got was bland and kind of joyless. The last time I had this, it seemed like it was worth a revisit. Disappointing.

12″30 PM – 5:50 PM – water, no more tea (I don’t drink caffeine after 2, 3 PM; I’m trying to sleep better), Gatorade, which tastes horrible and medicine- y when you drink too much of it, and a glass of peppermint tea to change things up. I haven’t done anything all day. I’m just gearing myself up for the trial I know is coming.

5:50 PM – To the kitchen. I get the first bottle of SUPREP out of the refrigerator, small, dark brown, the size of a bottle of cough syrup, rubbery foil substance stretched over the mouth of the bottle. SUPREP is a super-strength laxative. This bottle and the one I drink tomorrow at 10 AM are supposed to clear out every bit of residue (poop) in my intestines. That’s why the liquid diet; it’s low fiber and that means low residue. The less fiber in your diet, the less residue. They want to flush all of the residue out of my intestines, so they can see the walls clearly, with no obstructions, all the way up and down. when they insert the lighted camera tube up my rectum.

I pour the whole bottle into the 16-ounce plastic cup that came with it, and fill it up to the arrow-marked line with cool water (per instructions). The internet says it tastes terrible, so I take a few deep breath and try to stop breathing 9stop smelling, to be specific) as the clock ticks towards 6 o’clock.

6 PM – I down the entire glass, barely tasting the laxative. It is strong, sweet. I can tell after a few seconds, that it probably doesn’t taste good at all. It’s leaving an aftertaste down the back of my throat that would trigger a gag reflex if it were stronger. Then I wait.

6:20 PM – I fill the plastic cup with cool water and drink it down. The instructions say to drink two 16 oz. cups of water within an hour after drinking SUPREP. I plan to drink the next one at 6:40, if I am still standing. I am waiting for the first wave of diarrhea to hit, and I will adjust my plans after I see how bad it is.

NOTE: This has gone over 1,000 words, so I will continue it in the next post.

Photo by Mae Mu on Unsplash

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