Apologies in advance for the TMI, but I had my first colonoscopy recently and I’d like to share some first time colonoscopy tips.

 

You see, I’m now an adult in my mid-forties. And 45 is the new 50 when it comes to colonoscopies. That’s right: for years, it was a rite of passage to get your first colon-scope after your fiftieth birthday. But with a rise in colon cancer cases in young adults, the powers-that-be in the medical industry are now suggesting folks who aren’t at high-risk or have a family history of colon cancer get screened by 45.

 

I’m actually a year behind. When I went in for my annual check-up shortly after turning 45, my doctor prescribed a colonoscopy and even wrote me a referral. And I simply didn’t follow through. Part of it was the inconvenience and hassle; you don’t need me to tell you what a nightmare it is dealing with specialists and scheduling and insurance and the like. I hope to see single-payer sometime in my lifetime.

 

But the other part was the just plain not wanting to do it. I’d never had a procedure like this done before. And even in my mid-forties, I’m still susceptible to fear-of-the-unknown. So I put it off. For a year. Then this year came around and I decided to stop being silly and scared and to get it done. And I’m so glad that I did.

 

First Time Colonoscopy Tips From a First-Timer

Shout-out to DHA Endoscopy in Stoneham. This is not a paid endorsement; my experience with them was so good I just wanted to share that. From the appointment booking to the info packet to the care they took of me, I would recommend them to a friend. And I would recommend you read my first-timer tips. Because there’s some stuff you just can’t put in an info packet.

  • Eat Well Before Your Low Roughage Diet

    About a week before your colonoscopy, you’ll start what’s called a “low roughage diet.” And for me, that wasn’t much fun. I wish I’d eaten more of the foods I like leading up to that week, so I’m suggesting that you do.

  • Choose Your Low Roughage Diet Wisely

    I’m just realizing this now: the “low roughage diet” might be pretty damn close to your everyday diet. White bread, milk, meats, canned veggies. This is the antithesis of my everyday diet: whole grains, plant milk, beans and tofu, fresh fruits and veggies. I was miserable. In hindsight, I wish I’d gone for more variety in the “low roughage” category. So plan ahead and make sure you do, otherwise you’ll be spending the better part of the week eating the same damn beige food day in and day out.

  • Choose Your Gatorade Wisely, Too

    My colonoscopy prep was the “Miralax G2 split.” The night before my colonoscopy, I had to–over 2 hours–drink a bottle of Gatorade, a bottle of G2, and a bottle of Miralax all mixed together. Had to drink the same cocktail the morning of my procedure. I went with blue Gatorade and G2 and let me tell you: I never want to drink them again. So don’t use your fave Gatorade flavor if you’re doing this prep, otherwise it will no longer be your fave Gatorade flavor.

  • Use Wipes, Not T.P.

    Real talk: they’re putting a camera up your butt to look at your colon to make sure there are no precancerous polyps. In order to do that, your colon has to be empty. Hence the low-roughage diet and colon-cleansing cocktail. You’re going to spend a lot of time on your toilet. Wiping. Be nice to your bum and use wipes, not toilet paper.

  • Bring A Book

    Depending on the time and day, you might be waiting for a bit between being prepped for the procedure and having the actual procedure done. So what are you going to do, just stare at the ceiling and fret? Or doomscrool and fret? Plan ahead: put your phone away and bring a book. Even if it’s light reading.

  • Take It Easy With That Post-Procedure Meal

    More real talk: after your colonoscopy, you’re eating the first real food you’ve had in a couple of days. And you’re putting it into an empty digestive system. So be kind to yourself and start with something simple. I know that’s a big ask, given all the bland food you’ve eaten over the week leading up. But it’s gonna be a few days before you poop! So it might be best not to turn that into a traumatic event.

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