During my annual check-up in June, my doctor reminded me that it's time to partake in that coming-of-age ritual: a colonoscopy. It's a very important procedure. A healthy gut is essential to a healthy, long life. I want to share my experience with you in case you haven't had your colonoscopy yet.
I'm pro colonoscopy, but as a holistic health coach, I had questions. I needed to know about ingredients in the prep drink. Does it have artificial ingredients? What are the side-effects? Are there any natural alternatives? Apparently, I was making unusual inquiries because my doctor wasn't able to answer all of my questions, so she did the next best thing: referred me to the gastroenterologist.
Three months later, (soonest available appointment) I met with the gastroenterologist (gut doc for short). She very patiently answered my questions, walked me through the steps of the procedure, and even printed the ingredients in Miralax (their recommended laxative). The prep work is important, for those of you who haven't undergone this process, and involves cleaning out your colon completely so that the procedure will be effective. Essentially, they need a clear view of the interior of your colon to look for polyps and other scary stuff, like cancer.
The gut doc said you drink the Miralax with Gator Aid (or other sports drink). That's problematic for me because I don't do sports drinks due to the artificial colors and "natural" flavors in them (FYI: "natural" flavors are not what you may think they are!). So, what's the alternative? "Hmm," the gut doc said, "let me think about that." I asked about drinking Pedialyte instead, which she gave a thumbs up. OK. One of my issues was resolved (or so I thought). I left feeling pretty good about the procedure, but knew that my concerns about ingredients would have me researching Miralax and alternative colon preps.
I found Pedialyte at the local grocer and was surprised (also disappointed) that the only choices were orange, berry, or grape. Yuck. Yuck. And yuck! Artificial flavors and colors. No thanks. [Wait. We give that to kids? Yeesh!] The gut doc's instructions clearly say no red or purple; I guess those chemical colorings interfere with the gut scope too much. (... imagine what they do on a regular basis to the gut, with their links to cancer and ADHD. Sorry, FDA, I don't believe they're safe.) Needless to say, I didn't buy the Pedialyte. Instead, I found clear electrolite water at Whole Foods. That'll do.
Next will be a trip to GNC for the laxative. However, instead of the recommended Miralax, I did some research and found a product called Natural Vitality. It is an ionic magnesium citrate and, here's the good part, it's gluten-free, vegan, non-GMO, no preservatives, no artificial colors or flavors. Exactly what a holistic health coach would look for should she be looking for a good laxative!
Now for the pre-prep. Today I'll stick with two green smoothies - one for breakfast and one at lunch, and the homemade veggie soup for dinner. No seeds, nuts, peels (basically, the things I live on). If I do the prep correctly, and I won't have to do this for another ten years. Worth it.
Tomorrow (24 hours prior to C-time) is another story, but here's the plan. The gut doc said I can have 2 eggs and toast before 9:00 am; which I will savor. The rest of the day is clear liquids: herbal tea, water, white grape juice, organic chicken or veggie broth, and the laxative, which will necessitate my constant close proximity to the bathroom.
Oddly enough, I'm kind of excited about the hot broth after watching a news story about this hole-in-the-wall kitchen that literally opens their window at a busy New York city sidewalk and serves cups of hot broth. They sell-out daily! Apparently, many people have converted from coffee to broth. Go figure.
While there is a lot of preparation that goes into a colonoscopy, it is an essential, potentially life-saving procedure. Stay tuned. I'll let you know how the prep goes - without being overly graphic. Admittedly, I'm a bit nervous about being sedated as I've never been before. My daughter, who has agreed to accompany me, should have some good laughs. :)
My hope in sharing my experience is to help those of you who haven't been through this process.
If you've undergone a colonoscopy and have any advice, please share in the comments below.
Wellness Lifestyle Educator
First-time colonoscopy participant
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