Natalie Hayden is a #teamHealthyWomen Contributor and this post is part of HealthyWomen's Real Women, Real Stories series.
I scheduled my colonoscopy in September and it's hung over my head ever since. It's not the procedure that's bothersome to me; it's the prep and the worry over the findings.
Last month, it happened. I went 2.5 days on a liquid diet (which is easier said than done when you're a stay at home mom all day) and did the prep. Everyone knows the prep is far from desirable and it doesn't help when you're famished. For some reason, this time was especially difficult on me. I was incredibly nauseated and weak. I vomited multiple times. I could barely get it down.
Luckily, an hour before I started the prep, my mom landed in St. Louis and was able to take care of my baby for me. I honestly don't know what I would have done without her, as my husband was at work when I needed to start the prep. MOM TIP: Have someone help you, whether it's a friend or a family member when you have kids. It's nearly impossible to take care of yourself during this, let alone another person!
The magnesium citrate and I don't mix well. Whether it's cold, on ice, with Sprite, with Zofran to help the nausea—it's still awful. Instead of drinking the 64 oz. of Gatorade mixed with 14 servings of Miralax in one hour, it took me seven hours … and I still had about 8 oz. left behind. The morning of the procedure I was supposed to get up three hours before we left for the hospital (3:30 am) and take 10 oz. of magnesium citrate. I woke up with stomach pain at 3 am, attempted with the prep again … and failed. I gagged the minute it touched my lips. Let's just say I was not too confident in my how "cleaned" out I was going to be. In the nights leading up, I started to fear inflammation or issues that would change my disease course and plans for future children.
I turned to Instagram for some tricks of the trade when it comes to prepping for joyous colonoscopies and came away with some helpful tips I thought I'd share:
If you deal with nausea, ask your GI for a prescription of Zofran going in.
If magnesium citrate doesn't sit well with you, see about taking over the counter Senokot tablets (typically four tabs in the evening and four tabs in the morning).
Keep the prep very cold, use ice and a straw.
Swish around apple or white cranberry juice and spit it out in the sink if you're getting sick of the taste.
Have some diaper cream, A&D ointment and baby wipes on hand to ease the burden on your bum.
Use shot glasses.
Lemon popsicles (anything but red or orange is allowed), same goes for Jello.
Bone broth or chicken broth.
Plan that first meal as something to look forward to. Eyes on the prize: FOOD!
Gummy bears—just steer clear of the red and orange ones.
Have a good book, a fully charged phone and some magazines on hand.
Clean the bathroom beforehand, you're going to be spending a lot of time in there.
As I sat alone in my hospital gown, waiting for the IV and the procedure, I had a few moments to think, pray and reflect about my patient journey. My husband Bobby came back to see me, held my hand, kissed me a few times before I was whisked away.
I woke up to the best news! There were no signs of inflammation or active disease and my streak of "remission" continues. I put that word in quotes because I am always hesitant, as my symptoms always come out of left field and blindside me. For now, I am going to bask in this celebratory moment, enjoy every feel-good day and take in the relief of knowing I've gone through another colonoscopy and passed with flying colors!
A version of this article originally appeared on Lights Camera Crohn's.