Preparing for a colonoscopy

How to Prepare for a Colonoscopy and What to Expect

Colonoscopies are much less intimidating if you know how to prepare and what to expect. If you’ve heard the prep is uncomfortable and the fasting is difficult, you’re correct. If you’ve heard the procedure is quick and easy, you’re also correct. Colonoscopies are bittersweet. You’re taking a powerful bowel-clearing substance which makes you go diarrhea until your system is cleared. You’re also getting the best procedure to spot polyps, colon cancer, and other abnormalities that can help diagnose a myriad of  health issues. Let’s get prepared.

Prepare For The Colonoscopy Early

Your doctor will give you colonoscopy prep instructions at least one week before your procedure date. My paperwork usually comes in the mail. As soon as you get the instructions, read through them completely. This gives you time to call your doctor with any questions. You will also want to buy the bowel prep your doctor prescribed. You can find the most common bowel prep substances at your local pharmacy. Also, plan ahead who is going to accompany you to the procedure. This person will drive you to the medical center, stay during the procedure, and drive you home.


  1. Medicated wipes. I like Equate Flushable Wipes with aloe or TUCKS medicated cooling pads. Trust me, toilet paper will get uncomfortable.
  2. Skin soothing product. I like Vaseline and Desitin. This will help with any irritation from the constant diarrhea and wiping.
  3. Clear liquid diet. Shop for your prep day menu early. You will want to make Jell-O and other foods ahead of time.
  4. Crystal Light, Kool-Aid, or Gatorade. Buy your favorite clear liquid drink to help mask the taste of the prep. Buy nothing with red, blue, or purple dye.

Colonoscopy Diet

Colonoscopies are not the most convenient procedures. It takes 48 hours of preparation for about 3 hours you’ll spend at the medical center on procedure day.

Two days (or more) before the colonoscopy: Low-fiber diet. No whole grains, seeds, nuts, raw fruits or vegetables. The more you prepare your digestive system for prep day, the better. You could start this diet several days ahead of time.

The day before the colonoscopy: Clear liquid diet. This is the hardest day because you will also be drinking the prep. Some options for the clear liquid diet include broth, black tea or coffee, clear juice, Jell-O, and Popsicles. Avoid any liquids with red, blue, orange, and purple dyes. That leaves you with green and yellow. My go-to menu includes clear chicken broth, lemon Italian ice, lime or lemon Jell-O, Apple Juice and Sprite.

Prepare for a Colonoscopy
This is my favorite Italian Ice. I buy it every time I prep for a colonoscopy.

The day of the colonoscopy : No food or drink. The good news is most likely your procedure will be first-thing in the morning.

Colonoscopy Prep Day

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  1. Clear your schedule. You’ll want to be home when you start the prep. You’ll also want privacy. If you have children, consider having someone watch them.
  2. Get cozy. You’ll be going to the bathroom a dozen or more times. Wear loose, comfortable clothing that’s easy to slip on and off. Put on your favorite TV show or movie for some distraction.
  3. Be mentally prepared. You’re going to be experiencing high-volume, high-velocity diarrhea. Once the prep starts working, the urge will hit and it’s hard to hold back. You may find yourself setting up shop in the bathroom for a few hours. Bring music, your laptop, or a good book.
  4. Get creative with consumption. The prep can taste bad, even if it comes flavored. You could add Crystal Light or Kool-Aid powder to the mixture. Also, consider adding some ginger or lime; drink it chilled; hold your noes when you chug; suck on a lemon slice after you finish each glass; suck on a hard candy after each glass. Be sure to drink extra liquids before, during, and after bowel prep.
  5. Know when to stop. Once you are releasing yellow or clear liquid, you can stop the prep. I have never drank the entire prep.

Colonoscopy Procedure Day

You will be feeling weak and tired from the bowel clearing and from a not-so-great night of sleep. The worst is over, though. This is the easiest day in my opinion.

  1. Expect to spend about 3 hours at the medical center.
  2. After you’re all checked in, you’ll get an IV. Once you’re in the procedure room, the doctor will tell you to lie on your left side in the fetal position. You’ll be put to sleep and wake up as if no time has passed.
  3. Your caregiver will be come into the post-procedure room. It is important for this person to be present when the doctor tells you the results. You may not remember everything clearly because of the anesthesia.
  4. You will leave knowing your results.
  5. Expect to be gassy for the rest of the day. During the procedure, the scope blows air into your colon, which expands the colon and helps the doctor see more clearly.

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Breath. You now know your results. Whatever news you receive, be grateful that you have answers. Now you can take proactive steps to improve your health.

You may also be interested in “Crohn’s Disease 101: Everything the World Should Know.”


When Someone Judges You Based on Your Health, Thank Them and Then Help Them.

Recently someone in my life judged me based on my health. This person didn’t mean any harm, but it still hurt. If anyone ever judges you based on a health issue, step back and realize this: Being labeled can be a blessing in disguise. In fact, the next time someone marks you “the sick person,” thank them and then help them. Here’s why.

Three Important Reminders the Next Time Someone Labels You Based On Your Health

Answers are powerful. First and foremost, if you have a health issue, this means you also have answers. You are one of the lucky ones who knows what’s going on inside your body. A doctor has given you a diagnosis, a reason why you have your symptoms. Too many people are still searching for their health answers. Some people are too scared to start the search. Be grateful that you have answers.

Living a proactive life. Because you have answers, you can take steps towards a healthier life. You have the clarity to take charge of your body. Whether it’s finding the right medicine, considering surgery, changing your diet, managing stress levels, or seeing a therapist, you have the power to make positive changes to your well-being. Be grateful that you have made your health a priority.

Your strength is addictive. Let’s face it. You’ve already dealt with enough health issues for a lifetime. Whether you are aware of it or not, you are stronger and braver than most of the people in your life. You should be incredibly grateful for this. Whether you know it or not, people in your life see your strength and are empowered by your health journey. Now, it is your time to give back. For those who don’t have answers and aren’t ready to live a proactive life, you can help them by sharing your experiences.

Remember that everyone is on their own journey. Maybe the person who judges you has unresolved health concerns, and it’s easier to judge you instead of assessing their self. The health concerns don’t even have to be physical. Maybe they are dealing with self-doubt or self-confidence issues. Whatever it is, now I see that I need to be there for them. So, when someone judges me based on my health, I am going to thank them and then help them. I’ve been on the journey of self-introspection, something that is scary for people. I have come out on the other end a more self-aware, confident, and compassionate person who knows her label. Now it’s my turn to help my loved ones find their label.

You may also be intersted in “Why I am Graetful For Crohn’s Disease” and “Fearing a Crohn’s Disease Flareup Clouds Our Reality.”