Prep – it’s one of the most dreaded steps involved in getting screened for colorectal cancer via colonoscopy. There’s a lot of reasons why. The prep drink tastes salty to some. Few enjoy a mad dash to the toilet. Plus, there’s several prep options to do and it can get confusing when GIs differ on which prep is best.
While teams are working on how to improve and better colonoscopy prep, the simple fact remains: your entire colon needs cleaned out before this test. There’s no getting around that. (You do have other screening options, by the way, that do not require this entire colon cleanse.) But for a colonoscopy, everything has got to go. Literally.
Tips to Endure “Prep Night”
If you’ve chosen to undergo a colonoscopy for your colorectal cancer screening, we’re here to help. We polled some of our top volunteers – many of whom receive colonoscopies very frequently because of their personal cancer history or family risk.
Here’s some of their best tips for surviving the night before a colonoscopy:
“Personally, I start decreasing the size of meals two days prior to starting prep. This makes for a much easier prep night. I’d also recommend getting a box of Dude Wipes prior to starting prep.” – Chris Ganser, survivor
“Here are several of my tips: have plenty of clear liquids available (like broth); have something to sip after each drink of the prep; a few days before the test I like to start gently cleansing by drinking digestive tea once a day – it makes for a much easier and quicker prep; keep vaseline or coconut oil nearby; wear elastic-waisted pants (you will have no time to mess with buttons); start the prep a few hours earlier then recommended so it does not disrupt your sleep; charge your phone and get a good book to read (you will be in the bathroom a lot!); even if you’re running clear, drink the second half of the prep so you get an effective scope; remember that once you’re through the prep you’re through the worst part; LAST – plan a good meal for afterwards – I always make my driver take me out for a big breakfast! Then, go home to nap.” – Amanda Houston, survivor
“I avoid things like nuts, popcorn and seeds beginning the week prior. Same with avoiding things that are bright red. I try to stick with lighter-colored foods a few days prior. I don’t eat red meat a lot anyway, but I definitely don’t eat it the week before and I eat smaller portions of meat starting two days before my test. I make sure the prep I am drinking is cold. It makes it so much easier for me to drink it. Plus, I put it in my large Tervis Tumbler with a straw. For some reason drinking it with a straw helps me. After the colonoscopy, it is sooo important to EASE back into regular eating. I also take a probiotic for a few days afterwards to help my gut get back to normal.” Trish Lannon – survivor
“I like a long, hot bath after the fireworks have calmed down. Nothing is more soothing and relaxing.” – Walter Hickman, survivor
“I like to buy really soft TP before the test, it helps (along with some vaseline) to tame the savage beast. I also find a cool wash cloth can help as well. I usually start a bland diet the entire week prior for just a few days. That really helps things move more smoothly.” – Maria Williams, advocates in memory of her friend Belle
“I taper my food a few days before and ease back into food afterwards. I avoid spicy stuff after the test, especially if they have removed a polyp.” – Sheila Schrack, survivor
“I treat my prep & colonoscopy like a special event. It is my cleanse, so I treat myself well during this time. I eat light, bland foods a couple of days leading up to the prep. I buy organic low-sodium broth and eat it for my lunch and dinner. I find a really good JELL-O and make it ahead. (Boxed JELL-O comes in so many different flavors.) I splurge on good apple juice – like Martinelli’s Gold Medal – it’s my favorite. I also buy white grape juice and usually some flavored sparkling water or Diet 7-UP to settle my stomach. I also drink the prep solution COLD and through a straw. It’s easier to suck it up. I know it’s hard to drink all of these liquids, but another thing I found very helpful is to drink Pedialyte. This hydrates me better than water. I become dehydrated very easily and it makes for difficulty when putting in my IV before the test. Drinking Pedialyte has helped tremendously. It also now comes in packets so you can mix it yourself. Of course the wipes are essential. One last thing I sometimes get is gummy bears – pull out the red and purple ones and suck on the light ones for a little treat.” – Kristen Keesen, survivor
“I also eat lighter meals about a week before the prep. For my first colonoscopy I had a chicken Philly sandwich for my last meal before the test, and that was a big mistake! The next time I had a nice dinner of salmon, rice, broccoli and salad. Everything went so much smoother. 😉 Definitely have some wipes available, I prefer Preparation H.” – Marsha Baker, dad passed away from colorectal cancer
What Do YOU think?
These are some of our tips for surviving prep night, but what are some of yours? Leave a comment and let us know!