Writing up an account of what the whole colonoscopy thing was like for me (avoiding graphic detail!) in case it’s useful info for anyone who needs to have one.

Overall verdict:
Not as bad as expected.

Liquid diet: actually, I thought this would be the worst part of hte whoel thing, but it was OK, really. I was able to ingest enough calories to keep from feeling dizzy, lightheaded or “hangry”. (So much so that I may eventually decide to do a liquid diet for Yom Kippur, on the theory that it drives in the notion of abstention and departure from every day practice, without ruining my ability to focus on the contemplation we’re supposed to be doing.) I was allowed to eat a “light” breakfast before 6AM and went to some lengths to make sure I had acceptable food prepared, and then I totally forgot to bring it in to work, and arrived at work to a whole bunch of emails that needed immediate response and forgot to eat anything else. So I was basically on only liquids from the time I woke up.

That famously nauseating stuff you have to drink: There are several variants of this – one friend mentioned having to drink disgusting stuff over 6 hours. Oig. The stuff I had was called MoviPrep, and what it tasted like most was the Japanese sports drink Pocari Sweat, only more so.(Think Gatorade, but more salty and less sweet.) Keeping it in the fridge definitely helped. I’d never drink it if I didn’t have to, but it didn’t make me gag, even at 6AM, and was all around not as bad as reported (quite possibly some of the other variants are worse). I think it basically combines a laxative with the electrolytes of Gatorade. After spending all of Thursday on the liquid diet I had to drink a quart of it that night – 8 oz (roughly .24 liter) every 15 minutes starting at 6PM, then another quart the next morning at 6AM. The morning time depends on when your procedure is scheduled; they want you to have it ~3 hours before you have to show up, so you’re not, like, white knuckled and wishing for in-car restrooms on the way there.

As for the results of the prep, for a person with IBS it can best be described as “a random Tuesday when maybe lunch didn’t quite agree with you”. Well, OK, it was a little more thorough than that and went on a little longer, but on the other hand it was easier for me to put up with and less traumatic because a) no queasiness, everything going the proper direction and b) this was, like, what I was supposed to be doing. I had the time planned and I was at home, not trying to finish up, quit hogging a work restroom and get back to whatever I was scheduled to be doing. Also, while I did spend most of my prep time in the bathroom, I was able to go sit on the sofa between times – I never felt I didn’t have time to get from there to the bathroom.

The colonoscopy itself was weird because I’ve almost never been in a hospital as a patient, except for having my wisdom teeth out at 18, and that was outpatient surgery. This time they took me to my “own” room, where we sat around for a bit, then they stuck heart monitors on my chest, started an IV (which took two tries), then we sat around a bit more. At this point, the IV was just saline solotion, probably a good idea since I’m sure I was dehydrated by then. About ten minutes after the scheduled time, they kicked Ted out wheeled me into the procedure room, plugged various wires into the monitors they’d put on me before, and then sat around watching the readouts for another ten minutes or so until the doctor was ready. (I’d given all my stuff to Ted, but wished at this point I’d brought a book. There were nurses around to talk to, though.) The nurse in charge of anesthesia asked me how out of it I’d like to be and told me they “were happy to customize my experience” in a way that sounded oddly spa-like, but I didn’t feel they really needed my (conscious) presence. After that, they hooked some drugs into my IV, told me to roll onto my left side …. and the next thing was that I have a woozy memory of being offered some water, OJ, saltines and graham crackers, then walked out to where Ted was waiting with the car.

Apparently they pump air into you during the procedure; for my doctor it’s standard procedure to pump it back out (I gather this is not universal – I asked, after reading a recommendation to somewhere online). I did not feel bloated at all afterward. I was afraid my gut would remain a bit unsettled afterward, but it really didn’t. When we got home I crashed and slept HARD for a couple hours. After that we drove out to the lake house (2.5 hours); I did request a couple of pit stops in the first half of the trip (I’d warned Ted in advance this might happen!) but was OK after that.

They tell you not to drive or make important decisions for 16-24 hours after the procedure. I intended to row lightly Saturday (which would have been close to 24 hours later), but got out there and somehow it was just a giant NOPE! so I came back in. Sunday I still felt slightly fragile somehow so I just erged 5K at about a half-pressure pace. Other than that I took it fairly easy over the weekend, doing nothing else more strenuous than a bit of weeding.