Jan 11, 2011

What is the Colonoscopy Procedure Like?

Someone commented on my earlier post mentioning that I had a colonoscopy asking me to describe the preparation and procedure...I can do that, but want you to remember that this is my experience...your doctor may guide you through a different, but similar approach.


The entire day before the colonoscopy, I had no solid foods. And I waited 3 weeks from my doctor appointment until the day of the colonoscopy, so had time to get much more nervous than I should have...I'll know better next time.

During the day before, I was able to eat/drink lemon Italian ice, yellow Gatorade (62 oz during the day), broth, anything liquid that was not dark or red. 

I was supposed to take 4 Dulcolax plus 230 grams of MiraLax , the latter is a powder mixed into another 62 oz bottle of Gatorade. I will not tell you the exact timing on how this is taken, your doctor will, or you can search for it online, I am not comfortable taking responsibility. But I will say that I have IBS and a VERY sensitive colon, so tried just 1 Dulcolax in the morning to see how my body would respond...well it responded very powerfully, so I didn't take any more of that.

When it came time for the Miralax solution, I mixed about 1/4 less of the Miralax than the doctor suggested into the bottle of Gatorade and drank in the intervals suggested in the late afternoon/early evening. It lead to a real good clean-out. I was able to get some sleep in eventually...but up often...it's good to stay near a bathroom. For me there was no cramping or pain.

My appointment was at about 7:30 in the morning. This was my second Colonoscopy, the first was 4 years ago, and I used an oral Fleets product and found that it was even more draining than the procedure that I did this time...still, I was quite weak and tired when I went for my appointment, this is to be expected. 

The biggest suggestion I can make is to get as much fluid as you can up until midnight the night before...you have to stop drinking at midnight...and drink the full 2 bottles of Gatorade as well as water during that time...one of them is your prep, the other just for fluids that contain electrolytes you need. 

The preparation dehydrates you by pulling fluids into the colon from the body, so you need enough fluid in your system to compensate.


The procedure is nothing, especially if you are sleeping during it.  You need a driver to bring you and take you home.  You go in, register, change into your gown and lie down, get your intravenous, I was given oxygen right before being put to sleep...and you wake up feeling great, at least with the drug they gave me. You don't feel a thing, and are awake and walking within a very short time.  

I was offered my choice of juices to drink after waking.  I was lead by a nurse or aid to the place where I changed into the gown, my cloths and pocketbook locked in a locker, and then left to change.  Then was led to wait for my son, and on my way home in an hour or less from the time I woke up. My son drove me and it was about 2 hours between the time he dropped me off for the procedure and the time he took me home. When you get home, you rest and sleep off the rest of the anesthesia, which is very mild, but you shouldn't drive until the next day.

An odd after affect, I felt like I had a cold for a couple of days after...lots of sneezing and aggravated sinuses, probably due to whatever was blowing into my nasal passages when given oxygen. It was annoying, but passed.

I had one pea sized polyp removed the first 2 times I had a colonoscopy. One was the kind that can turn into cancer if left alone. The 3rd colonoscopy at the end of 2015 (see below)...no polyps, so I get a 5 year break.

That's all there is to it....anticipating it, and the preparation are "harder" than the procedure itself. And it's worth it, especially if they find something that shouldn't be there and remove it, reducing your risk of developing colon cancer.  If they find nothing, generally you can wait 5 years for your next look-see, your doctor will let you know.

March 2016 Update:

I had another colonoscopy done at the end of 2015...waiting 4 years rather than 3. This time the doctor prescribed a liquid preparation for me to use...NEVER AGAIN! Being the sensitive person I am, I was able to keep down the first dose, and it seemed to be plenty to clear me out. The second dose did not stay down, my body rejected it immediately, and I was sick right up until the time they took me in to do the colonoscopy...which went fine. NO POLYPS this time. 

So next time, I will be going back to the procedure I described earlier, with the over the counter Miralax etc., I'll insist on it no matter what the doctor says...unless they have come up with a milder solution by then.  


  1. Anonymous10:44 AM

    Did you really only take one Dulcolax tablet? I'm so worried. My colon is sooo sooo sensitive with terrible IBS, everything affects me in a serious major way. I had colonoscopy 10 years ago and was in such bad shape from the prep, and I, too, did not take the whole prep and they said I was clean. I'm having bad problems and need to go again.

  2. I am also very sensitive, yes, I took one in the morning rather than starting when they said just to see how I would respond...doctors give the same instructions to everyone it seems, though I am sure there are exceptions. When I saw that I was cleaning out just fine with the one, I only the rest as described.

    I wish you well, let me know how things go, and by way of disclaimer, I am sharing my experiences, it is between you and your doctor what you decide to do with the information that you gain here.