Colonoscopy, Phase II: The nasty stuff

OK, I’ve begun guzzling down this solution.

(Note: evil cat lurking on windowsill, waiting for me to show a moment of weakness.)

I’m following some commenters’ suggestions — I made it up warm, to go into solution, chilled it, and am sucking it down with a straw. It’s not too bad so far. I wouldn’t drink this stuff by choice, as it’s mainly just thick and salty and flavorless, but I’m feeling like it’s doable right now. Of course, I’ve just started, and I have 4 liters to go.

I’ll post proof that I’ve finished it, if and when I finish it.


  1. square101 says

    Ooof, I have yet to require a colonoscopy but before I had surgery for my ostomy they had me do a bowel prep with stuff like that. I think mine had some flavor packet to use so it ended up like kind of salty fruit punch. It didn’t bother me until I got about 1/2-2/3 of the way through the jug, but once things start to kick in it gets pretty hard to keep going.

  2. says

    For those who are too lazy/busy/whatever for a colonoscopy, be aware of the fecal occult blood test: you just mail in a bit of your exhaust and they will check for signs of bleeding that might indicate a cancer. There is another test called PERT that analyzes a blood sample. Both are good pre-screenings to decide if you need a colonoscopy, and are much cheaper. PERT is still under test for effectiveness and your medical care provider may be able to put you into a study; that way you get a free test.

  3. Ed Seedhouse says

    I don’t remember having to drink anywhere near that much fluid myself. I seem to recall they made it fizzy too, which helped, and it was only a couple of glasses. But it was awhile ago. I also seem to recall that they did both ends one after another – down into my stomach and after that up through the rectum. No general anesthesia and no need for it really. Anesthesia adds extra risks I believe.

  4. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    The FDA just approved a 1 Liter prep solution.

    The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) today approved a lower-volume, 1-liter bowel cleansing preparation for colonoscopies. The product is intended to reduce one of the biggest deterrents for patients in completing the preparation, according to a company press release.

    Could be helpful, as my experience was the last liter of your solution will be the hardest to get down.

  5. says

    @chris61 having recently had one I can confirm that drinking this vile muck (and the consequent time spent on the commode …. all night) is by far the worst part of a colonoscopy.

    The action bit is a little demeaning, shall we say, and a little uncomfortable but not really that bad. They also give you a sedative (I’m in the UK mind !) and I probably dozed through half of it.

    @marcusransom ; currently recovering from a colon cancer operation, successful one. The faeces test is a good indicator, but some people are pretty asymptomatic.

  6. bjnich2 says

    My docs have liked the massive quantity of the same salty PEG solution, probably because it’s very thorough. I’m not sure if I could get through the batch without a flavoring added. Otherwise it would taste like saliva by the glassful. It’s nice to have endoscopy photos to share.

  7. wsierichs says

    I’ve been through it twice and could make a few jokes, but I think I need to say this for anyone who is hanging back for whatever reason.

    I had a very dear friend who kept putting off a colonoscopy. She was very smart, generous and caring. She, her husband and 3 children were all close friends to me. I think people can guess what happened. She had severe abdominal pain one day, enough that her daughter (a doctor) forced her to go to the hospital. She had colon cancer, which had spread to her liver. They got the colon stuff cleared up, but the liver cancer was too aggressive. Her husband drove her all over the place for 2 years trying to find a doctor who could help her with the various technologies available. She finally reached the point where she just could not take treatments any more. She left a lot of friends who loved her. If she had only made time in her busy life to get that one, occasional exam, she would have spared herself a lot of physical pain and the many who loved her the loss of her friendship.

  8. nomdeplume says

    Good luck PZ, watch out for the after-effects of drinking that stuff….

  9. paxoll says

    Will have to wait on word of mouth from gastroenterologist’s about the efficacy of the smaller volume prep. Seen quite a few scopes and not having everything cleaned out leads to a lot more time involved as they try and hose the fecal matter off the walls. Also you don’t want to miss any ulcers or polyps hiding in the trash.

  10. says

    Paul Robson@#10:
    The faeces test is a good indicator, but some people are pretty asymptomatic.

    Yes, it’s not perfect. But perhaps wsierichs’ friend would have survived if she’d done the poop test. We’ll never know.

    I keep meaning to get it done, myself, but mostly I’m just lazy and I hate going to hospitals.

    Then there’s a family member of mine who had a colonoscopy, and they found a bunch of stuff, and the doctor said, “uh oh this looks like lung tissue.” At the time they said they wished they’d never known – but that was 12 years and a lung and a lot of chemo ago, and they’re still living with the cancer and having a good life. So, it’s complicated and a crapshoot at the same time.

  11. lb says

    A good friend of mine just had a colonoscopy today. I wish you the best of luck and hope all is well.

  12. tallgrass05 says

    My doc had me take 4 Dulcolax, some Miralax, and 64 oz of Gatorade. Worked like a charm. Baby wipes are your friend.

  13. flange says

    I’m pretty sure they prescribe so much of the prep bilge, counting on no one actually finishing it. So most people get enough of the stuff, even if they don’t finish it.
    Besides the obvious benefits of having colonoscopies, the drugs are great.

  14. cvoinescu says

    I looked at the Prepopik site, and oh what a load of marketing for something that costs a few cents as a generic. After a lot of digging, it turns out it’s sodium picosulfate plus magnesium citrate (as magnesium oxide and citric acid), so it does get my endorsement — sans the smiley-people, uninformative fluff on their website.

    Also, +1 for the fecal occult blood test. You can even buy a home test and do it yourself — takes all of ten minutes.

  15. unclefrogy says

    My VA doc had me drink a gallon of something that tasted like moldy dry-wall (Epson salt?) was very hard to do the first time later in the do over I taped my nose closed was much easier tasted like nothing with salt.
    good prep is important as the “medic-tricorders” are not yet perfected
    uncle frogy

  16. TGAP Dad says

    Like many men of a certain age, I’ve been through it. Like few men my age, I have been through FIVE. (Note: the specialist will always want to do her own, rather than read the preceding report.) I’ve never had a problem with the PEG, bu I always flavored it, too.

  17. d3zd3z says

    My biggest complaint with the prep instructions are the units. “Drink at least 40 oz of clear fluid”. Even in the US, water comes in nice metric units. I don’t even have much of a grasp of what 40 oz even is.

  18. says

    The bottled water I buy comes in bottles that are almost exactly 20 ounces. (I buy it every few months and refill them at the tap and put them in the fridge. Come to think, it’s about time to get a new set of bottles again. I only do this with the thicker plastic, not the stuff that makes crinkly noises when you hold it.)

  19. blf says

    It’s probably cheaper (over time), and perhaps also more environmentally responsible, to buy a water bottle or three from a local bicycling / outdoors shop. They are far more robust and intended to be refilled. (I myself use a thermally-insulated variant.)

  20. says

    wsierichs @ 13:

    I had a very dear friend who kept putting off a colonoscopy. She was very smart, generous and caring. She, her husband and 3 children were all close friends to me. I think people can guess what happened.

    Loudly seconded. I knew something was wrong, very wrong for around 3 months, but put off getting a colonoscopy. The reasons I did that aren’t important; what is important is that it was an extraordinarily stupid fucking thing to do. I had a malignant tumor which would have been much easier to deal with if I had just gone in and got the damn test done. I’m almost through my first round of chemo, then it’s radiation and oral chemo.

    It is NOT worth your life to put off this test, no matter your reasons. If not for yourself, think of those who love and care about you. I have already known way too many people who have died within six weeks of diagnosis. Don’t do this. It’s a fucking test, and no, it’s not the most pleasant one, but it can save your life. Don’t put it off. Get it done.

  21. mountainbob says

    I wore my “Excrement Eventuates” T-shirt to the exam (usually wear it on specially messy news-days). My Drs at the VA are pretty conservative, so I used Golytly plus a “starter” medication. This was about my 5th one, and – yippee – the first one with no problems, so I’m good for 5 years, if I last that long (76 next month). Agree with the poster up the thread that the pix are nice. Remember to have some Kefir or Yogurt soon after to start re-establishing good flora and fauna in the bowel.