Natural Calm magnesium citrate: $23.
Electrolite water: $3.59
Clean, healthy colon: Priceless!
The mere thought of ingesting something that could potentially make me feel crappy stresses me out. However, I know that emptying the contents of the colon is the first requirement for a successful colonoscopy. If the bowel prep isn’t up to par, polyps and lesions can be missed; the colonoscopy may take longer (increasing the risk of complications); or the whole process may need to be repeated or rescheduled. Sooo, proper prep is essential!
Here's how I successfully prepared for my first colonoscopy without cramping, vomiting, or other ill-effects. NOTE: This is what worked for ME; you may be different.
No red meat. By choice, my eating style is mostly plant-based, so not having red meat wasn't a big deal for me. I am not vegetarian or vegan, but do limit red meat intake. Leading up to my colonoscopy, I did not eat red meat for about two weeks. Fact: Red meat can take as long as 72 hours to digest.
Eat Clean. I started cleansing a few days prior. I believe this made the cleansing process much easier. Since my procedure was scheduled for Thursday, I decided to eat light and clean on Monday and Tuesday. My menu was: green smoothie for breakfast and lunch (kale, spinach, banana, 2 dates, frozen organic cherries and peach slices, wheat grass powder, water, splash of almond milk). For dinner on both nights I had homemade vegetable and rice soup and a couple slices of whole grain bread. I probably had a square or two of dark chocolate because, well, it's chocolate.
Water. Water. Water. Water is necessary for the body to function on a cellular level, so drinking a lot of clean, filtered water is always important.
24 Hours to C-Day
Too few calories make for a cranky Peggy. I like food. Solid food. Liquid cleanses make me cranky so they're not something I would willingly partake in. Knowing that fluids would be the "food" of choice for about 24 hours didn't appeal to me. No popcorn. No almonds. No apples. No chewing. Just clear liquids (no red wine, no beer, no smoothies). I know, get over it, right? It is what it is, so deal with it. Over-thinking it can be mentally draining, so a little mind-over-matter was necessary. I stayed busy. Instead of salivating over my husband's dinner, I did yoga. When I started thinking about food, I wrapped Christmas gifts. I slowly and mindfully sipped the hot, organic chicken broth for lunch (which wasn't as exciting in reality, but a lil' black pepper kicked it up a notch). Throughout the day I drank water, hot peppermint tea with honey, and white grape juice. I read. I worked. It was all good. What we think about becomes our reality. The mind is very powerful. I didn't continuously ponder the fact that I hadn't chewed a meal all day, and that was very helpful.
Relax, it's laxative time. I found Natural Calm at GNC. The store manager warned that it can work as a laxative. "Perfect! That's the plan." I chose this product because it is an all-natural laxative (non-GMO, vegan, no preservatives or artificial flavors/colors). I am very careful about what I eat and drink daily. I read ingredients. Why should I have to ingest something synthetic? Why don't doctors give choices? (Questions for another day. I digress.)
No additives = no ill-effects. Natural Calm doesn't have all the additives, which can act as stimulants and irritants and cause inflammation in the bowel lining. I did not experience bloating, incontinence, or cramping. I simply mixed 3 tablespoons of the powder in hot water (I used the electrolyte water) and sipped through a straw. Surprisingly enough, it actually has a good taste and it made me feel kind of full, but not bloated. It took about thirty minutes to "work". I drank a glass full at 6pm, another at 10pm, and the final one (drum roll, please) at 3:30 am. Gotta get it done!
Seeing the inside of the colon is cool. I wish I'd had the opportunity to see it. I don't remember anything beyond thinking how I'd like to watch the procedure on the screen (I mean, how cool to see the inside of your colon!). One minute I'm meeting the doctor and thinking how strange it is to meet someone who is about to insert a scope where a scope should't go, and the next minute I'm in recovery. Well, it seemed like a minute anyway.
While I didn't get to see the procedure on the screen, they did send me home with some cool photos, which are on the fridge of course. Just kidding.
I had the most awesome nap at home and awoke feeling pretty good. I was able to teach my gentle yoga class at 7pm. By the way, ladies in my class, did you happen to notice the two electrode things stuck on my chest?! If you saw them, did you think they were body piercings? Why didn't you point them out? I laughed so hard when my husband said, "What are those things on your chest?" I found a third one on my abdomen.
Go get your colonoscopy. It could save your life!
The Whole Foods electrolyte water and my laxative of choice.
I know. You were probably hoping for a pic of my inner intestine...
Wellness Lifestyle Educator
Possessor of a happy, healthy colon
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
: Help to keep your colon health by eating clean and know what's in the food you eat!
What we eat matters!