Maintaining your wellbeing and managing digestive issues
I knew that this colonoscopy was coming up as unfortunately l need regular reviews because of a past history of bowel polyps. I had been dreading the letter arriving in the mail reminding me of the need to have this procedure. I was feeling quite worried about how l would manage the cleansing part of the process given that for the past year l have been on a very strict diet to maintain my overall wellness and to support my digestive health. With a past history of reflux, GERD, digestive malabsorption and oesophageal spasms and tightness that are now resolved due to the amazing diet l follow, l wondered how l would feel having to consume medicines that were designed to cleanse out my digestive tract. I had spent the past few months dealing with the news that my dear Auntie had bowel cancer and then supporting her through treatment, a secondary diagnosis of a brain tumour and then her unexpected death. Having the colonoscopy was very important but l did feel particularly anxious because of this experience. I kept having thoughts of cancelling the whole thing but sometimes in life you need to take stock and be brave and make the effort. The nurses at the hospital told me stories of people who just leave it too long before getting help or keep putting it off and l just kept thinking of my Auntie as l went through the procedure.
I needed to get a referral from the General Practitioner which l then had to take to the hospital prior to admission. I explored my cleansing options and decided on a new low volume prep called Picosolax. Previously l had a prep that mixed into several litres of water and found this quite awful. The other option was a large amount of tablets but this required a longer fasting time and this wouldn’t suit me as l need to eat small regular meals to feel well. About a week before the procedure l made some really nourishing bone broth from a free range chicken. I strained it through a muslin cloth so that it was clear and stored it in the freezer. I stocked up the kitchen with low calorie jelly (something l never eat), sparkling natural mineral water, straight up coconut water and Lucozade (also something l never have).
The next three days!
The day before the colonoscopy l was allowed to have breakfast only. Around 6.30am l had two scrambled eggs with some bacon and a navel orange. At 7am l had to take three Coloxyl with sienna tablets (l never take these) and they had me rushing to the toilet not long after. At 9am after l dropped my children at school l had another breakfast of a small pancake (see recipes) and two of my chocolate cookies (see recipes). I had a Chamomile tea at this stage to calm my stomach after the Coloxyl tablets. I then had a large glass of coconut water and two cups of broth for lunch which was so nourishing and filling. I tried to drink as much filtered water as l could during the day as l knew this would aid my recovery. At 3pm whilst waiting for my children at school l consumed the first Picosolax sachet mixed with water and it was very delicious. I hoped it wouldn’t work within the next 45 minutes before l got home and luckily it didn’t. I had to drink at least three glasses of any clear liquid following this and l had a cup of broth and a bottle of the Lucozade. I am not used to drinking fizzy drinks but l did feel good after having the Lucozade but 500ml was plenty and after this l switched to water. At 6pm l needed to have the second Picosolax sachet with water and it didn’t taste quite so nice this time as l was getting a bit sick of having to drink so much liquid. I sat down with my family for dinner at this point and ignored what they were eating and had a bowl of the jelly which was surprisingly filling. Having to make the school lunches and dinner was a challenge but l just put it out of my mind and focussed on what l was doing. Over the next few hours l had to drink a litre of filtered water and this was a challenge for me as l don’t normally drink much after dinner. I took my usual supplements and after being in and out of the toilet for a few hours managed to have a good sleep.
I was back in the toilet in the morning and was feeling very nervous. I had to fast until the procedure and had to be at the hospital at 8.30am. I decided not to take any of my supplements and didn’t even have a sip of water as l felt really well and not sick at all. Everyone at the Day Hospital were so nice and the procedure was over very quickly. I was there for approximately 2.5 hours before l was allowed to go home. Things that were not so nice included the anaesthetic injection which was quite painful. I was warned about this and l was asleep within a few seconds so it was no big deal. The Dr did warn me that sometimes people can have an adverse reaction to the anaesthetic so l tried not to worry about that and in the back of my mind was the paragraph on the information form explaining that death was a remote possibility, as was bowel perforation. I woke up with great relief and the second l was allowed to leave , l did. Of course l was not allowed to drive, something that at least five different people explained to me. They also said l wasn’t allowed to make any important decisions and coincidentally when l got home some important papers arrived from the Solicitor regarding my Aunties estate and l just put them aside as recommended and went for a lie down.
After the procedure l woke up on a trolley covered in a sheet and felt very sleepy. I could see the machines checking my pulse rate and oxygen levels and felt relieved to see all was good. I felt so great that l thought there was no possibility that anything had been found during the procedure. I was escorted to a lovely recliner chair and had a delicious snack. I recalled from previous colonoscopies that sandwiches are usually on offer so l phoned ahead to check and brought my own gluten free snacks along in a cool bag. The nurses kindly brought this to me after the procedure. The Dr came to see me and explained they had found and removed a polyp and given my history and that of my family l would need colonoscopies regularly for the rest of my life. I was feeling sad about this, but also relieved that l had made the effort to have this test done. My husband drove me home and l rested for about three hours before l felt well enough to get up and do a few things. A lot of gas is pumped into the lower part of the digestive tract during the procedure and this started coming out straight away and was quite uncomfortable. I was very hungry after the procedure and ate lots of small snacks throughout the afternoon including some more bone broth. I made a delicious rice and chicken dish for dinner and had quite a good sized meal as l was really hungry. Following my procedure l had the supplements l usually take in the morning and at night was back into my usual routine. The anaesthetist said l would feel like l have a hangover for the rest of the day and he was right. It was like a cloud of tiredness enveloped me. I went to bed quite early and had a good sleep although the gas just kept on coming out.
I felt a bit sick in the morning and was still full of gas. It wasn’t until around lunchtime that l started to feel good and my bowel was moving again. I think tomorrow l will feel normal again, so l can say that it has been the best part of three days to go through the Colonoscopy experience as well as the administration, cooking and shopping that was required.
The whole experience went very well. My holistic General Practitioner told me to take probiotics before the procedure and extra vitamin C afterwards. I actually took extra vitamin C beforehand as well and stayed away from anything like lemonade that has sugar in it during the Prep. I am really pleased with the way l managed the whole situation and think the key element apart from ensuring a high water consumption, was the bone broth which was really nourishing and filling.
Good luck with your Colonoscopy. If you need to have it remember to plan ahead so that you can maintain your nutrition and hydration through what could be a very draining experience for your body. Another recommendation is that you ask the hospital to schedule you early in the day. This helped me a lot, and l went to a smaller day hospital rather than the larger ones l had been to in the past which provided for less waiting and a more personalised experience.
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