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Certified Health Coach, Award Winning Author, Motivational Muse

I Screen. You Screen. We All Need To Screen.

It was the first and last time I’d bare my derriere for a man I’d just met, but this was for a a colonoscopy, and I believe in taking care of my health.  The last time I had this done was Thanksgiving week 2009 with my internist who was also my gastroenterologist at the time under another health insurance plan. This doctor was arranged by my wonderful oncologist, Maria Theodoulou. She’s my doctor yenta; I look up to her to fix me up with the right specialists to tend to my well-being.

It was like a medical blind date without much conversation. This doctor’s few words to me before anesthesia took over were, “The recommendations for having a colonoscopy changed a few years ago, and you really only need to have one every 10 years. But you are already here so let’s proceed.”

Having a colonoscopy is an important step in taking control of your self-health to screen for colorectal cancer which is, according to the American Cancer Society website: “the third leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States when men and women are considered separately, and the second leading cause when both sexes are combined….. Overall, the lifetime risk of developing colorectal cancer is about 1 in 20 (5%). This risk is slightly lower in women than in men”.

The procedure takes about thirty minutes. Remember when Katie Couric underwent a colonoscopy on “The Today Show” after her husband passed away from colorectal cancer?

Planning for you colonoscopy prep is key.

Planning for you colonoscopy prep is key.

But prepping for a colonoscopy is pretty awful. So in the interest of helping others, I am providing my official “tips doctors don’t necessarily tell you.”

1. Schedule your colonoscopy at time time when eating fresh raw fruits and vegetables doesn’t matter (e.g., not necessarily in the summer when the farm stands are full of fabulous produce). In the days leading up to the procedure you are advised not to eat raw fruits and vegetables, grains, whole corn, seeds, nuts and anything fibrous. That’s hard if you are a vegetarian and a big salad eater like me. Cooked vegetables are OK but watch the dairy intake.

2.  Monday is a handy day to have a colonoscopy because the day before you need to be on a liquid diet and then start  drinking  the “god awful stuff” (a Facebook friend’s words for the laxative cocktail). You don’t want to eliminate on a day/night when you are working, traveling or planning to go out. You want to stay close to a bathroom when the shiitake hits the fanny. I scheduled my colonoscopy the Monday before Thanksgiving. I liked the idea of cleaning out my intestines before feasting later in the week.

3. Twenty-four hours prior you need to be on a clear liquid diet. This means vegetable, beef or chicken broths, but no creamy or chunky soups. You can’t drink any red, orange purple beverages. Tea and coffee (no cream or milk) are allowed. Fresh green juice minus the pulp is good. I took advantage of making “French Women Don’t Get Fat” Author Mireille Giuliano’s Magical Leek Soup to sip all day, adding some spices for flavor.  Even though white wine is a clear liquid you need to stay hydrated all day by drinking loads of water and not alcohol.

Nothing red, orange or purple 24 hours prior to your colonoscopy.

Nothing red, orange or purple 24 hours prior to your colonoscopy.

4. The “cleanse” takes awhile to start and finish. At 11 p.m. I was convinced I was doomed because nothing had happened. By 2 a.m. I said “enough already!” By 3 a.m. I borrowed my dog’s wee wee pads to wear and to sleep on. At that point David moved to the guest bedroom but offered his sympathy. I have to say to his credit, when things get worse for me he only gets better as a husband.


5. Schedule your colonoscopy in the morning if you can. If it is in the afternoon you will be cranky all day since you cannot eat or drink anything four hours before the procedure and you’ve been on a 24 hour liquid diet already. I can’t believe people actually pay to visit health spas to be on a liquid diet. It’s boring. I like solid foods.

6. After it’s over you can resume your normal diet (no alcohol for 24 hours), but take it slowly and eat lightly. You may feel bloated and gassy for a few days after.

Three days after my colonoscopy my intestinal tract was back on track. That’s perfect timing for Thanksgiving! I was thankful the test results showed everything was normal and grateful I didn’t need to schedule another one until 2025.

It may take a few days to be 100% back to normal, but make sure to eat regularly and with plenty of fiber. I ate plenty for Thanksgiving!

It may take a few days to be 100% back to normal, but make sure to eat regularly and with plenty of fiber. I ate plenty for Thanksgiving!

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