It begins: colonoscopy time!

Four tiny little pills.

That’s bisacodyl, trade name Dulcolax. I just took them. My colonoscopy prep begins…NOW.

I’m also on a 24 hour fast, which shouldn’t be intolerable, since I’ve got padding to spare. Then this afternoon I’m supposed to guzzle down an awful lot of this stuff called NuLYTELY, which is basically just polyethylene glycol + salt, which doesn’t sound good.

I optimistically think I’ll be able to finish up my grading while doing all of this. Right? No problem? Reassure me!

Then bright and early tomorrow morning I get some good drugs, an anal probe, and a surprise. Will it be a good surprise, like a new kitchen set and an all-expenses paid vacation for two in Cabo? Or will it be a goat? It’s like “Let’s Make A Deal” in my colon!


  1. says

    Yes! Good luck getting that gallon of semen water down. Use a straw, it’s much easier to get down that way, and sip a bit of lemon juice after each glass, it will kill the ‘flavour’ of it.

    Tentacles crossed for a clean and healthy colon!

  2. Saad says

    Caine, #1

    Good luck getting that gallon of semen water down.

    Ugh….You know, I’m not at the age where I’ll need to do this yet but that’s gonna stay with me.

  3. shouldbeworking says

    Yes, yo will get all of your grading done. After all, you will spend a lot of time sitting down. I had a colonoscopy last year so I’m curious just how large a desk did you manage to install in your bathroom.

  4. says


    Ugh….You know, I’m not at the age where I’ll need to do this yet but that’s gonna stay with me.

    Sorry, that’s what it tastes like! Since people have to drink a bloody gallon of it, you’d think maybe some time would be spent in making it palatable, but no. You get instructions for what to do if it starts making you nauseous and vomit, that’s how tasty it is.


    After all, you will spend a lot of time sitting down.

    Yep. Mister was in and out of the lav, especially on the last half, it’s best to be very close to your lav.

  5. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    I went through all this last December. Both lemon and a straw helped. The hardest part for me was the last of the NuLYTELY (or equivalent) which started at midnight, well past my normal bedtime. I didn’t get any sleep that night, as I had to be up early. Best wishes on a good result.

  6. says

    I’m supposed to start slurping down the PEG at 2pm, and finish by 6. Then I get to watch my wife finish the delicious leftovers I made for her yesterday, drinking nothing but water all night.

  7. says

    I have hopes for at least a few still photos. My doctor is the same guy who cut a cyst out of my back a few years ago, and when he found out I was a biologist, he put it in a tray and we dissected it together. This can’t be as gross as that, right?

  8. blf says

    The mildly deranged penguin once invented a better, well, better-tasting, procedure. Take a cheese. Infest it with microelectronic probes; think larvae — albeit artificial — similar to Casu marzu (the use of rotten cheese is optional). Eat the cheese with its microprobes. The cheese is digested, the probes are expelled, meaning they travel through the waste disposal piping. Recording, sampling, cleaning, whatever they are designed to do, until naturally extruded. Collect, clean, retrieve the recordings and samples, and analyze.

    The idea was never really developed. For one thing, she kept eating all the cheese, so there were never any samples to insert the microprobes into and test. That however, didn’t matter per se, as her initial probe was the size of steam locomotive engine, and of similar weight. She was unable to miniaturize the accompanying coal tender and train (except for the caboose), and doesn’t believe me when I point out that whilst she did “shrink” the fore-aft length of the engine / probe by turning it sideways, it isn’t really any smaller, is still indigestible, and besides, who wants to eat a live-steam train? Even sideways.

  9. kestrel says

    Your doctor sounds like an interesting person! My doctor decided to have this done without the anesthesia so he could watch; he now tells everyone, “GET THE DRUGS.” Apparently it’s not nearly as fun as he thought it would be to stay awake throughout the procedure.

  10. says

    They told me I could watch, and then they knocked me out. Bastards didn’t even save a copy of the video. (I was spoiled by my first one, when they put another eyepiece on and just let me watch the WHOLE ENTIRE THING.)

    I remember the time I’d taken the Boom-O-Lax tablets and had an obligation to be onstage the same evening. Tried to get out quickly and head for home, and another participant prevented my getaway. You know, when you put your mind to it, it’s really amazing what you can not-do.

  11. tedw says

    I had this done a few months ago. The best advice I got was to mix the PEG solution with warm water so it would dissolve thoroughly and not taste gritty, then chill it as much as you can. The flavor packet wasn’t that bad in my opinion, but you can only do so much to make that stuff palatable. I ended up finishing it while seated on the commode.

    It’s pretty standard to show the patient pictures or video from the procedure, so that should be something to look forward to. The worst part for me afterwards was the bloated feeling from all the air he put in my colon, but that passed pretty quickly (pun intended). I work in an OR so I’m used to seeing these things from a different perspective.

  12. says

    Oh, gee, PZ. You and I are in horrible synchronization. I’m also on prep today with an early morning appointment tomorrow. Ugh. But at least I’m done with finals. Yes, the GoLytely stuff is vile and nasty; diluting it with chilled water and using a straw helps. My doctor agreed this year to an alternative two-dose prep that is supposed to be less disgusting. Soon I’ll know.

    I wonder: Will your grading of finals be more merciful this year — or less?

  13. says


    I have hopes for at least a few still photos.

    If my hospital is anything to go by, you’ll get those. We both got print outs with stills, and all the discovery information. Mine was limited because big arse tumor in the way, but Mister’s had stills of all the places itsy bitsy polyps were, before and after they were removed.

  14. kevincharleston says

    I thought it was fascinating to do without drugs. A little discomfort and turning and twisting as they use gravity to get the camera to turn some of the bends, but with a sympathetic doctor it can be done with no trouble.

  15. says

    Anthony @ 14:

    diluting it with chilled water

    You aren’t supposed to do that! If I had done that, there would have been yelling.

  16. feministhomemaker says

    I have to disagree, Caine. I found the crystal light lemonade helped immensely. Also making it cold helps. They told me to make it and put in fridge to cool down. I used straw, it helped. Drank each glass as quickly as I could. First time I did it they broke it up into afternoon and then again in wee hours. Second time I was told to do it all at once in one setting. That was hard even if it saved my sleep hours. Good luck PZ. Hope you find nothing of interest in your colon. But please remember: do not rely on a clean colonoscopy. Always check your butt with your finger, or have doctor do an exam of it, every year anyway. I had a clean colonoscopy barely 3 years ago but found locally advanced anal cancer tumor just inside my rectum a few months ago. Could have caught it much earlier if I had been getting annual rectal exams. Women my age tend to fall through the cracks since such an exam is no longer standard. Earlier trained gynecologists did it every year but when mine retired no new doctor thought it needed, even though being female and in your 60’2 is primary demographic for anal cancer. Men usually get examined with prostate exam each year. So women fall through the cracks and that should be fixed!

  17. kenbakermn says

    You’re a better man than me. I had the same thing scheduled this week but chickened out and canceled it.

  18. carlie says

    Be sure your wife is monitoring you this afternoon/evening. My aunt had a terrible allergic reaction to the drink she was given for her colonoscopy. Apparently it’s rare, but not rare enough that the ER was surprised by it.

  19. moxie says

    baby wipes, baby oil, and vaseline are your friends.
    use a straw to bypass your taste buds.
    lemon drops or other non-red colored hard candy will help you forget the taste of the laxative. a bit. maybe.

    good luck!

  20. d3zd3z says

    Be glad it is only 24 hours. My last colonoscopy the doctor informed me there was too much “matter”, and that I needed to do it again in a few years, but with 48 hours of the wonderful beverage.

  21. Reginald Selkirk says

    Set up for grading in your bathroom and you should be OK. As soon as you take the NuLYTELY you’re going to spend a lot of time on the toilet.

  22. says

    Take comfort in the wisdom: “This, too, shall pass.” I have been on this ride more than a few times, had a few polyps sacrificed on the altar of my good health and had a story to relate which, as my doctor noted, will be worse than we both experienced.

  23. frog says

    Huh, they didn’t have me drink a particular brand of stuff. The directions were for 2 quarts of Gatorade (no red versions!) or Crystal Light (if you’re diabetic) +14 doses of polyethylene glycol mixed in (7 doses per quart. I suppose you could do it in one container but I did two). They literally were like, “Go to the drugstore and buy Miralax.” I have never found PEG to taste like anything, so that was no problem.

    I used the Crystal Light because Gatorade is awful. I figured I didn’t have to be diabetic to not want a half gallon of sugar water. Tastewise, it’s tolerable, and definitely not even a teeny bit reminiscent of semen. It’s all (artificially) sweet, no salty.

    The worst part was simply getting it all down. You have to chug the first quart over the course of an hour. I can do that easily with plain water, but this was quite A Thing. Then there’s a couple hours break, and then the next quart. I confess I couldn’t get to the bottom of that second one; I left about 2 ounces, because the alternative was puking it all back up. I was still thoroughly cleaned out and they did the exam.

    Personally I prefer the liquid to be room temperature, though I agree that intensifies the Crystal Light taste (next time I’ll put less of the CL into the water). The straw is a very good idea. I’ve used sports-top water bottles, but a straw is better.

    Other tip, if you don’t have a million papers to grade: download movies onto a tablet so you can watch them while sitting on the toity. They do a very good job of distracting you.

  24. Oggie. says

    I am so very glad that all I had to do was shit in a box and UPS it to Minnesota.

  25. fusilier says

    I got to mix the PEG in Gatorade; I dislike Gatorade but it was much better than the GoLytely that a different doc had me use 5 years ago.


    James 2:24

  26. weylguy says

    My biggest fear is being put to sleep against my will (a common phobia). So I ask for just enough IV fentanyl to let me stay awake during the procedure, which takes only about 20 minutes. I even chat with the doctor and nurse, and the slight high I get from the drug is quite enjoyable.

  27. thirdmill301 says

    Good luck, PZ. On a related note, I support free rectal exams for Republicans in the hope that it might help some of them find their heads.

  28. charley says

    You’re supposed to get your first colonoscopy at 50. Please don’t wait like I think PZ did. I’ve had a couple, and honestly, it’s not a big deal.

  29. jstackpo says

    After the good Dr. shows you what is behind one of the doors you didn’t select, be sure to change your door selection to improve your odds of getting the vacation.

  30. says

    Had my first colonoscopy a couple of years ago at 61. Had to fast and take Ducolax, but didn’t have to drink anything. Had a colon flush instead.

  31. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    Wow! Had mine yesterday…8 years late. It wasn’t that bad, but it shot the day. Compare your grading the day before to that the day of after the procedure.

  32. says

    For what it’s worth:

    The prep regime for a colonoscopy is more distressing and uncomfortable than that for intestinal resection. (I’ve done both — there’s a reason that my favorite piece of punctuation is now the semicolon…)

  33. jazzlet says

    Neither I nor Mr Jazz had to stay near a toilet when we did our preps. I stayed awake, had gas and air which was enough for me except going round the corners, but even that was more uncmfortable than painful, and it was fun seeing the whole thing. Apparently there is a video game which uses a colonoscopy for one of it’s tunnels! Personally I hate having procedures while sedated, not unreasonably I think I’m being attacked. Also no sedation means you can drive yoursef home.

    Anyway |I hope you have it as easy as we both did PZ.

  34. wzrd1 says

    I was scheduled for my endoscopy, managed to get the gallon down, but that last damned quart was murder!
    Then, the damned car wouldn’t start and I was short the bucks for cab fare, causing a cancellation.
    And a $100 no-show fee, despite calling two hours in advance.

    Given that limited experience, given a choice between a gallon of PEG and using a Surform tool in place of toilet paper, it’d be the TP substitute by a narrow margin.
    We’ve managed to put men on the moon and bring them back alive, map our genome and figure out parts of it, even modulate parts of our immune systems, but can’t manage to create a palatable prep solution!
    Still, the alternative to using a prep solution isn’t pleasant, as when no prep was used, occasional methane-air explosions inside of the intestine or colon did injure or more commonly, kill patients when electrocautery was used. Yes, that is the reason for the prep.
    I guess I’ll keep the Surform tool for the drywall after all.

    I did hear of an enterprising individual who mixed vodka with the PEG. Hint: Just. Don’t.
    No, it wasn’t me. I know better than that!

  35. cvoinescu says

    I took Picolax (sodium picosulfate and magnesium citrate) for my colonoscopy. It’s miles better than PEG. I asked them about PEG, and they laughed and said they did not use that anymore. I did not have any drugs, and the worst pain was like a bad cramp – quite tolerable. I guess I’m lucky that way.

  36. stevewatson says

    For my first colonoscopy, I was drugged to roughly the chugged-a-six-pack-on-an-empty-stomach level, i.e. awake but feeling no pain, so I got to watch the whole thing on the monitor. Which was cool. For my second, I was completely out (different doc). I don’t recall the prep being all that horrible an experience.

  37. DanDare says

    Drinking the PEG is the worst voluntary task ever. The first half is awful. The next quater is the worst. The next eighth was the worst too. After that I went into a bit of a decline.

  38. says

    kenbakermn @ 19:

    Don’t Do That! Reschedule and just get the damn thing done, it could save your life. Think of those who love and care about you.

    Signed, Put it off for 3 months, now in treatment for a colorectal tumor.