Colonoscopy – Tips and FAQs

The following post is based on my experience. Since my Crohn’s Diagnosis in 2015 I have undergone 4 colonoscopies and 2 endoscopies. It may seem scary but it isn’t. The prep is worse than the procedure. It does not hurt, but the prep is unpleasant. Here are my tips to help make the prep a little easier.

Colonoscopy

Kate’s Top 4 Tips:

1. Read Instructions and Follow Directions
The instructions are detailed with how you need to structure your diet prior to the prep as well as the timing of each prep drink. This is not the time to wing it, follow it to ensure your bowels are ready for the procedure.

2. Be Prepared
After you start your prep you will not want to leave the house, so ensure you have the following to make prep run a bit smoother (pun intended).
– Easy access to toilet. Ensure you are at home or staying somewhere with a private toilet;
– Clear liquids (and Icy Poles). Ensure you keep your fluids up to stay hydrated as you will be losing a lot of liquid throughout prep;
– Vaseline or Pawpaw cream (start applying it on and around your bum hole before you start prep) Don’t be stingy, lather a generous coat on your anal hole. With the large amount of wiping that will go on over the next 12hours you bum hole may crack or get wiped raw;
– Soft toilet paper/ wet wipes (try and avoid excess wiping to reduce irritation);
– Entertainment (books, magazines, TV shows, movies).

3. Be Comfortable
Wear something old and comfortable. Prior to the procedure they will provide you with a hospital gown and hospital undies (super comfy). Also, be aware… throughout the prep and after the procedure you may experience poo in your undies.

4. Have Someone with You
The gastro will come and debrief you once you have woken up. However, you will still feel a bit sleepy and your brain will not be fully functioning so it is important that your chaperone listens in or take notes on the debrief because chances are you are going to forget 90% of the things you are told.

Colonoscopy

Frequently Asked Questions

What does the prep taste like?
There are a variety of brands for prep. My last prep I used the brand Moviprep. The first sip, probably tastes like a delicious lemonade. This good taste quickly subsides and it becomes a chore.

Do you need to finish it?
Yes. You may want to stop, but it is imperative to finish otherwise the scope may unable to be conducted due to the intestines not being cleared enough. Just think you’ve started you may as well finish otherwise you will have to start all over again at another date. Close your eyes, stay positive and get comfy on that toilet.

How long does it take for the prep to work?
It varies. For me my bowel movements started around 30min after I started drinking. For my sister and friend it took nearly 2hours for their bowels to start moving.
Be patient, it will come and when it does, you’ll know it. Ensure you are in close proximity to a toilet.

When can I return to work?
Consult your doctor. Depending on how you recover/ condition you can return the next day. It is recommended not to drive for 24hours. I would talk to your employer and prepare them that you may be absent the following day. I took two days off. The day before (for prep) and day of the procedure.

When can I return to exercise?
This is very individual and I would consult your doctor. I walked in the afternoon for about 40min before dinner. The next day I went for swim in the afternoon. I didn’t do anything high intensity (running/ weight training) until 36hour after my colonoscopy. By then I had refuelled my body sufficiently and had the energy to workout.

What should I eat after a colonoscopy?
After your procedure they generally provide you with some juice, sandwich and biscuits. My last colonoscopy I was starving, so I ate everything that I was provided (including  4 mini packets of Arnott’s Scotch Fingers, a ham and lettuce sandwich and an orange juice). If you have specific dietary requirements or don’t enjoy hospital food organise with your chaperone to bring you an after colonoscopy snack.

Prep

For further information, please refer to the following links:

https://www.bowelcanceraustralia.org/colonoscopy

https://www.bowelcanceraustralia.org/bowel-preparation-for-colonoscopy

MyFitnessPal – The Good and The Bad

MyFitnessPal is a food diary, calorie/ nutrition tracker all within an easy to use app. You can access it on your phone or online. Many people use it to track their overall calorie intake, their steps or exercise (calories output), their macro breakdown, track their water intake or to record foods to identify ‘trigger foods’.
It is used by a variety of people for a variety of goals including but not limited to:
Maintenance
Weight Loss
Weight Gain
The app is free. Like most apps you can get a Premium product that has extra features, but you. For me, the free one suits me and my wallet just fine.
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My Experience

I initially downloaded MyFitnessPal after returning from surgery and being underweight. I lost a lot of muscle and weight after surgery and for being so sick beforehand. Prior to surgery I was consuming a liquid supplement called “Resource Plus” as I couldn’t handle solid foods with my illness.
After surgery I had to eat Low Fibre foods for 6weeks. I continued to consume two – three Resource Plus supplements a day to assist in regaining weight as well as fuelling my body with the all the nutrients it needed in an easy digestible way.   After I had started gaining my weight back to a healthy range, with my dietician’s permission I stopped the supplements and returned to eating 100% real foods (no liquid supplementation).
When I returned to exercise I downloaded MyFitnessPal as a recommendation from my Strength Coach to ensure I was fuelling my body with enough calories. Although the exercise was initially very minimal my body was still healing and I needed as much nutrient dense foods as possible. The purpose of MyFitnessPal for me was for weight gain and ensuring I was getting enough calories and nutrients.
MyFitnessPal breaks down the nutritional information so you can clearly see you day to day nutritional activities. It mainly focuses on the macronutrients (carbs, fats and proteins) however it also shows certain vitamins and minerals.
Prior to surgery I was iron deficient. This was not due to me eating enough iron, this was due to my body not being able to absorb the nutrients (hence losing so much weight). After surgery it was assumed that my body would be able to absorbs all my nutrients, so monitoring my Iron intake was a priority.

The Good

+ Calorie Tracker (including nutrients)
+ Large food database
+ Exercise Tracker (and counts your steps)
I do not use this as I aim for a certain intake regardless of if I train or not. Although I like the step counter for office competitions. 
+ Community and blogs
+ Feedback and graphs
+ Educates and highlights the importance of serving and portion sizes.
+ Educated and highlights not all calories are created equal.

The Bad

– Possible to create an unhealthy obsession
Please be mindful that with anything you can create an unhealthy obsession. Be mindful of what you want out of it, what are your goals. Be your own guinea pig and work out what is best for you.
– Time consuming
If you are recording strictly you require measuring and weighing your food, checking nutrition labels etc. This can be time consuming. I followed it loosely as I am trying to increase weight so I just try and make my serving size bigger, however for someone with weight-loss goals finding out your serving sizes is important. Plus I always recommend reading nutrition labels. Especially for me who has some dietary restrictions it is vital, but it is also important for people wanting to lose weight. If sugar is one of the first ingredients listed that means it is one of the main ingredients (they order the ingredients by proportions in a descending order)
There are many meals you can copy across so if your day to day meals are similar it is not too time consuming. Also I find that if you do it for a week or two you get the feel of what is what and you can base it off experience. So the initial experience is definitely useful but longterm you’ll have that experience and knowledge behind you and tracking your food won’t be necessary.
– Inconvenient
If you are recording and tracking strictly, weighing food can be inconvenient if you are not at home, especially when eating out or eating at someone’s house.  Balance is key!
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Final Thoughts

At the end of the day I think this is a great aid in assisting you with your overall health goals. Whether you are using it as a loose guide to ensure you are eating enough or not over eating, or using it for a few weeks to portion control, or strictly measuring the food you are eating for serious weight loss or weight gain it caters for all individuals.
Please note MyFitnessPal is not the only app available (however it is the only one I have tried). There are many other calorie trackers/ food diaries that are out there. Like anything find the one that works best for you and your goals.