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11 Ways to Prepare for Your Colonoscopy If You Have Crohn's Disease

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As someone with Crohn’s disease I have had three colonoscopies since I was diagnosed back when I was 14. A colonoscopy is where a camera goes through your colon and images and a recording are taken of what it looks like to determine if there are any abnormalities in your colon.

It is the way that colon cancer, Crohn’s disease, and ulcerative colitis are detected. For those of use with Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, it also shows how active our disease is.

The procedure itself is not that difficult. People are usually sedated and there is low risk for complications. It also gives your doctor a better idea of what your condition looks like so it is quite useful.

With that being said – the prep for the procedure is…rough.

Really rough.

You colon has to be completely clean inorder for the doctor to perform the procedure.

Which is no fun.

I have put together 11 tips to survive your colonoscopy to make things easier for those of us with inflammatory bowel disease. These are things I do to make sure that the prep, procedure and recovery go as smoothly as possible. I am not a medical professional, so please run this by your doctor before implementing any of them.

1. Take the day before, during and after off. Most of the prep is done the day before, which causes a lot of trips to the bathroom. As well as you being by the bathroom. The day of, your system is in a bit of a shock and you are going to be in a daze during the day, even after the procedure. The day after, you will need to use the bathroom frequently as your body is getting used to food again. During all this it is best not to have to worry about work and focus on the prep, procedure and recovery.

2. Talk to your doctor about timing for your prep. For a portion of my prep, I had to down a bottle of MiraLAX with 64 ounces of Gatorade in two hours…or at least that is what my instructions said. And I ended up losing my “cookies” in the middle of it. My doctor, the day of my procedure, said that next time I should start taking the mixture at 10 a.m. and drinking 8 ounces every hour to avoid that in the future. This would have been avoided if I had talked to her about my prep beforehand instead of just reading the directions.

3. Buy a pack of adult diapers. And wear them on both the day of your prep and the day of your procedures. In case you have an accident these are a life savor.

4. If the office offers a kit – purchase it. It will be less of a hassle and then they know you have taken the adequate prep.

5. Have somebody around the day before your procedure. In case of an emergency (unlikely) then they can bring you to the ER. They can also help support you through the prep. This last time I was lucky to have my partner be with me and be my driver for the procedure

6. Bring any paperwork with you in a folder. After the procedure, the doctor will give discharge instructions. To make sure I do not lose them I bring a medical folder with me that includes my healthcare directive and most recent health documents. For my colonoscopy this included my health history and medication list as well.

7. Be prepared for your body and mind to function differently than they would normally. Because of the lack of solid food and potential dehydration from the prep, the normal location for IV’s may not work and you may react differently to needles. I normally have no issue with my IV’s and have no problem with needles. When I went in for my latest procedure, I almost fainted. If this happens to you, tell your nurse what is going on and they will help you through it. The key is to keep calm and focus on your breath. Once fluids get in from the IV, you’ll start feeling better.

8. Have your driver be someone you trust. Like a family member, partner or best friend. Ideally this person is also allowed to know your medical information and can be in the room when the doctor talks to you after the procedure. That way they can take notes incase you forget.

9. Wear clothes that are easy to take on and take off. Leave the jeans at home. I wore loose yoga pants and an oversized T-shirt. It was nice because they came off quickly and they were easy enough for my partner to help me put them on after the procedure.

10. Do not eat a full meal afterwards. Start eating food slowly. I have tried eating a large meal afterwards only to get sick an hour later. Start with crackers, pretzels and juice, and go from there. Everybody reacts differently and unless you know you will be OK eating a steak after the procedure, wait until the day after to do so.

11. Be patient. It can take a while for results to fully come in. And for Crohn’s patients, a treatment can take a while.

Hopefully these tips help you as they have helped me. Remember that the colonoscopy is a procedure that your doctor uses to help with your treatment and well being.

Believe me, I know that they are no fun…but in the end, they are worth the inconvenience.

Getty Image by spukkato

Originally published: June 11, 2018
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