The few people who I told I was going to have a colonoscopy/endoscopy all said the same thing: “The prep is the worst.” Turns out, they are 100% correct. Indeed, my friends, the prep is DEFINITELY the worst.
In order for a doctor to most effectively stick a camera up your butt, your butt needs to be empty. And in order for it to be empty, you must empty it. Hence the much maligned day of prep before any colonoscopy. Every doctor has their own specific prep instructions, but they all follow the same basic format: put nothing in your body but laxative, sit back, relax, and enjoy the fun!
I was to fast for the day, then, around 5 pm that night, I was to take 2 dulcolax laxative tablets. A half an hour later: the big guns. Dissolve an entire 238 grams bottle of Miralx into the clear liquid of my choice, and drink 8 oz every 10 to 15 minutes until the entire thing is gone. Then, just for good measure, I suppose, six hours before my procedure, I was to drink en entire 10-oz bottle of magnesium citrate (nature’s Miralax!) and wait for the fireworks.
Unfortunately, my procedure was at 9 AM, so that meant waking up at 3 AM for Step 3. Um. Really? You want me to wake up and shit?
But let’s start with fasting: a pain in the ass on any occasion, but especially difficult for diabetics. It would be much easier for me to fast now, because I’m on an insulin pump (and can make adjustments to my 24/7 infusion of insulin), but at the time I was on a once-a-day shot for my “all day insulin”, so fasting was a challenge. The good news is, you can drink clear liquids, so I was able to take in glucose if my blood sugar dropped too low from not eating. The bad news is, “clear liquids” with glucose are basically juice, which is super-fast acting glucose. So the basic pattern of my day was: crash, drink juice, spike, crash (because the juice is processed quickly – quick spike, but then there’s nothing else in my system to sustain it)…. drink more juice. Crash. My daily glucose chart looked was like a stock investor’s worst nightmare.
At 5 pm, I faced my two dulcolax pills, awarding them the terror and awe they deserve. Those fuckers are POWERFUL, you guys! Once in my life, after a weekend of constipation, I took 1 dulcolax, and I felt like I was giving birth to the devil’s spawn for the next 12 – 15 hours. Now I was supposed to take 2, and follow it up with a chaser of 14 days worth of Miralax? (Legit. 238 grams).
I took the pills, and sat gingerly on the couch, waiting for my colon to explode. When it didn’t, I moved on to step 2: mixing a bottle of Miralax (dear lord, human beings aren’t supposed to do this to their colons! Our good, kind colons who ask nothing from us – nothing at all! They just want to filter our WASTE! Can we just LET THEM BE?!??!!) with 64 ounces of the liquid of my choice.
And here, my friends, is where I made my fatal error.
Wanting to mask the taste as much as possible, I decided to mix the Miralax into something flavored, rather than just water. I’ve since learned that the best way to mask the taste is to drink the Miralax mixture as COLD as possible – ice cold, if you can! But alas, I didn’t know that at the time, so instead, I chose…dear lord, I can’t even look at it’s picture without feeling bile rise in my throat…
Diet Lipton Green Tea Citrus.
The first glass was… fine.
The second was not.
The third was straight up disgusting, and by the fourth, I wanted to kill myself. It tasted like lukewarm, pasty, green bile, if you were drinking lukewarm, pasty green bile knowing full well it was going to make you poop your brains out.
By glass number five, I had started to question my sanity, revisit all my truest-held beliefs about life and death, and probably would have sold my soul to the highest bidder (had the highest bidder promised to make the grossness stop).
And you guys, I hadn’t even started pooping yet. This was just the taste.
I knew I wasn’t going to make it at glass six. I had about three minutes of success digesting glass six, before it, and probably parts of glasses five, four, and three, were regurgitated into my toilet.
This presented a problem not just because throwing up is a pain in the ass, but mostly because I wasn’t sure if this meant I was going to have to start all over. (In which case, I was fairly committed to just leaving the country and bailing on my colonoscopy appointment the next day. I mean, I had a good run, but it was time to start a new life in Mexico.)
I was just debating whether or not I should call my doctor’s office to see what to do when, suddenly, nature (finally) called. Well, no, not nature. The chemicals that I’d dumped into my body over the last two hours called. And they were calling me to the toilet that I’d just christened with my puke.
After several grueling rounds, I finally had a minute free that I felt confident I could make a phone call in. I explained to the off-hours messaging service that I had puked up half my colonoscopy prep and wondered if I needed to do it again. They promised someone would call me back. (sidebar: how fun would it be to be the person who answers the phones for the off-hours messaging service at a doctor’s office? Bet THOSE people get a lot of stories).
To my horror, I was called back not by the on-call doctor, but by my actual GI doctor. Like… that sucks. I think I literally heard restaurant noises in the background, so… sorry Dr. S that I interrupted your fun dinner with friends to explain, in excruciating detail, my vomit and poop activity of the last two hours. I am further sorry that we then went on to have a conversation about the fact that, given what you’d be looking for the next morning, it was “probably OK if it wasn’t completely cleaned out down there” and I didn’t have to drink a whole new prep. Um. That’s a vivid mental image you just painted of my butt.
This is honestly reason enough to never become a GI doctor. Like… you get to have a life, but just know that it can be interrupted at literally any moment for lengthy, detailed discussions about poop.
Anyway, I hung up the phone, further pooping followed, and at 3 AM I roused myself from my poop-filled nightmares to drink 10 more ounces of laxative (DEAR GOD WHY) in the form of the “gentler” (really?) magnesium citrate. If I were a better person, I would spare you the gory details, but I’m not, and this was so fucking weird that I literally can’t help myself typing it here: by the end of my prep experience, what was coming out of my butt was water. Like… just straight up peeing out of my butt, it was so cleared out down there.
Compared to the prep, the actual experience, just as they say, is kind of a breeze. They give you enough drugs to produce what they call “twilight anesthesia” – basically you’re out but not completely out. It’s completely creepy- I remember 0% of the experience. I went into the room, LiteFM was playing, a million and a half people attached crap to my body, I waved hello to my doctor (and resisted asking him if he was able to enjoy the rest of his meal after our graphic discussion the night before. but like…really: was he?), someone put this thing in my mouth to keep it open, I laid on my side, and then the propofol took over.
An hour later (remember, they went up my butt and down my throat, so it took a while), I woke up being wheeled to a recovery room and blurted out “DID I SAY ANYTHING EMBARRASSING?!”
See, I have this fear that I’ll be given anasthesia and it’ll like, make me say something stupid or embarrassing when I’m going under or coming to. Ironically, I think coming to and shouting DID I SAY ANYTHING EMBARRASSING is actually, in itself, kind of embarrassing. None of the doctors even acknowledged this exclamation, and I can’t decide if that was rude on their part, or actually really compassionate.
I wasn’t sure if I was more afraid that the scopes would reveal nothing, or something. Probably I was more afraid of “nothing” – that would mean that the GI doctor had exhausted all of his theories, and I would be shuffled along to a blood specialist for more frightening options to be considered. I had been tested for Celiac, Crohn’s disease, parasites, cancers, all sorts of random malignancies through the CT scan, fibroids, endometriosis, and about a trillion other random things, and everything had come up negative.
However, it was Dr. S who finally struck gold. Two days later, I got the call: the scopes had actually revealed something.
A second autoimmune disease.