Advice about colonoscopy prep?

laalaaJuly 19, 2009

Hi everyone,

My mom is going for a colonoscopy on Tuesday (she's been having bad abdominal pain for the past few weeks). I've been trying to find information for her about the procedure, and while she's not too worried about the actual colonoscopy, she's kind of dreading the prep. I was hoping someone here who has gone through this process might be able to give me some more information on the experience.

My mom is supposed to be on a clear liquid diet on Monday morning, and then she has to start taking the medicine at 1:00 PM that day (well, they told her 1:00, but she's not able to start til 2:00). The drug she has been prescribed is PEG-3350. She has to drink 4 liters of it, 1 cup every 10 minutes. The package says that the liquid will cause a bowel movement within about 1 hour. The first question we have is, does that mean one hour after taking the first dose? So will she be taking 5 or 6 doses before anything starts happening?

The next question is, how long does the whole process last? Four liters is about 17 cups, and if she drinks 6 cups per hour (1 cup every 10 minutes) that means it would take about 3 hours to drink all the liquid. Will she continue to feel the effects of the medicine even after it's all gone, or will the process be over in about 3 hours? She's going to start taking the medicine at 2:00 PM, so is it possible to estimate at about what time she'll be done "purging"?

Question number three: As far as the actual "purging" is concerned, does it basically happen that one dose causes one BM, or is it sort of an on-going thing? When you feel the need to "go", do you have enough time to get from the bedroom to the bathroom, or should you just stay in the bathroom the whole time?

Question number four: The powdered medicine mix is unflavored and the package says not to add any kind of flavoring or sweetener. The package says that you can rinse your mouth with mouthwash after drinking it, but it doesn't say if you're allowed to drink anything in addition to the medicine. I know my mom is only supposed to drink clear liquids prior to the prep, but is she also allowed to sip tea, apple juice, sprite, or water in between doses of the medicine? What about after the prep is complete; is she allowed to drink anything else for the rest of the evening? Would it be OK for her to eat mints or hard candy (sucking on them til they dissolve, not chewing & swallowing them)?

Question five: I read online that you are not supposed to drink anything, even water, for 4 hours prior to the colonoscopy; however, those instructions were not given to my mom by the doctor, nor were they printed on the medication. Should she go ahead and avoid drinking anything on the morning of her colonoscopy anyway (the procedure is scheduled for 9:00 AM Tuesday)?

Thanks very much for any info that you can give me!

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Oh, I am feeling for her! I have been through this twice, you are right, the prep is the worst part, the colonoscopy is a breeze compared to the day before.

First off, everyone is different, so she may start having to go to the bathroom within a few minutes or a few hours, it just depends on her metabolism.

She will be purging for quite a while and quite often. Again, it differs with everyone, but she shouldn't plan on going out anywhere once she starts the meds. Mine lasted about 4-5 hours total, towards the end it will all be clear liquid coming out.

I went through about a roll of toilet paper, probably used the bathroom about 20-25 times during the course of the purging. Tell her to get books and magazines at the ready, she will be spending a lot of time in the bathroom.

As for the powdered medicine mix, I would call her doctor. I used a liquid that I could mix with Gatorade or clear liquid the first time, it was the most vile thing I have ever drank. The second time I asked about getting the dosage in pill form, that is an option not many people know to ask for, but if you can get it by all means it is the kindest way!

I wouldn't have her eating any mints or hard candy, but I was allowed to have all the clear liquids I wanted. Again, ask the doctor, but I think what the candy is made of might have a negative effect. Gatorade was my drink of choice, it provides electrolytes that your body needs and really quenches your thirst.

Yes, she should stop drinking at least 4 hours before the procedure, longer if possible; this will prevent them from having to insert a catheter to relieve her bladder during the procedure. I stopped at midnight (my procedures were at 8 am and the other at 10am) and took tiny sips of water during the night, the purging medicine is salt based so it makes you really thirsty.

So basically I would get ahold of the doctor on Monday and see if they will prescribe the pills. The liquid is so nasty I don't wish it on anyone and the after effects are bad enough so any way to make it less miserable is the way to go!

Best of luck with the procedure and results, and I hope this info helps!

    Bookmark   July 19, 2009 at 8:40AM
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That's about it. As the previous poster says, everyone is different. I had my last trot to the bathroom after they had started the IV for the procedure the next morning.

It's vile. Some say drinking it through a straw is easier on the taste buds.

she will be clean, clean, clean when she gets finished. We have pictures of my husband's colon. It's real nice and pink.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2009 at 9:52PM
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Thanks a bunch for all the info, Michelle - that was very detailed and informative! We didn't have time to get the pills, but the liquid went down OK - my mom said it was gross but drinkable. She did use a straw (thanks, Agnes) and drank as much as possible in each dose (the instructions said she could drink 8-10 ounces per dose, so she drank 10 ounces at a time so that there would be fewer doses). She'll be going for the procedure at 9:00 AM tomorrow (well, technically I think it's already Tuesday right now). Thanks again for all your information!

    Bookmark   July 21, 2009 at 1:22AM
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My first time I had to drink two bottles about 12 oz each, I could mix them with something if I wanted to. The first bottle I mixed into a bottle of Gatorade, it just prolonged the agony, the second I just chugged like a shot and then gulped down a whole bottle of Gatorade to kill the taste. I never thought about the straw thing, but the chugging was quick a less foul.

Like I said, to anyone getting ready to do this, ask for the pills!

Best of luck to her, it is always good to have as much info going in to something like this so I am glad we could all help. Let us know how it goes!

    Bookmark   July 21, 2009 at 5:56AM
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