An Idiot’s Guide to Colonoscopy Prep

After coming up clean in my first colonoscopy, I’d like to take a minute to inform the masses regarding the truth about colonoscopy prep. First, if you’re over 45, get a colonoscopy! Colo-rectal cancer is called the silent killer. Just to start off the conversation in terms my fellow idiots will understand, I will refer to it as Silent But Deadly. (** I used to think the age was 50, but several have commented that you should get your first colonoscopy at 45, or even 40.)

Second, a colonoscopy is nothing to be afraid of. The prep, however, is something worth dreading. But it is massively important. You don’t want to waste a day of fasting and flatulation only to be rejected because you aren’t empty. Loosen up and do it right.

I want to be straightforward about this topic because online information is as twisted as my intestines evidently are. Of course, when you Google “colonoscopy prep,” a fine bowtie-clad doctor from the Mayo Clinic will tell you how important it is while somehow keeping a straight face. But this will be of absolutely no help when you’re in the middle of your fight and frantically type, “HOW LONG WILL THE SQUIRTS LAST?” into your browser. Google gave me a quote from the little sea turtle in Finding Nemo… which was oddly appropriate for that dark hour.

Finding Nemo 3D wallpaper

But I digress.


Here are some experiential thoughts regarding colonoscopy prep that I hope will help my fellow man.

  • Pre-prep is essential. You’re going to need to select a toilet and set up a bivouac sight nearby. I’ve compiled a list of things to have in close proximity to your camp. It is important that you collect these items prior to starting your prep – once you start, there’s no going back.
    1. Plenty of toilet paper. Do not scrimp here! I recommend the extra soft, cuddly, teddy bear, silky cotton variety with aloe. Man was not meant to wipe as much as you will over the next 24 hours.
    2. Diaper rash cream. See point 1.
    3. At least a pallet of disinfectant wipes. Things will happen that you don’t want to have to explain later. You might also want to keep a step ladder handy if you have high ceilings.
    4. 2-3 black garbage bags. There will be items to destroy or dispose of with impunity.
  • If you live on a septic tank, you might want to have it drained prior to your prep.
  • The fasting is very important. As you will experience, there are already things milling around inside of which you were unaware. I assure you – you don’t want to add the tiniest grain of rice to it.
  • Wear clothes that you don’t care about. It’s just not worth it.

I drank my first sulfate cocktail at 6 pm the night before. Results may vary, but it took about 50 minutes before I heard the first rumble. As I sauntered to the bathroom, I thought I felt my scapula drop toward my pelvis and picked up the pace. That was wise. In fact, you may want to be within a few steps of porcelain as soon as you imbibe. It all happens so fast.

I don’t want to be disgusting, but as a veteran, I’ve fired many automatic weapons, including a 50-caliber machine gun with a butterfly trigger, and nothing… NOTHING I’ve ever shot had the recoil I felt from the first salvo of the evening. Sticking with the munitions metaphor, this is full automatic, friends. And don’t get comfortable anywhere else because reload time is astoundingly brief.

There is no need to take a book or magazine in there because after a few sessions, you might not have a will to live, much less acquire knowledge.

As this goes on, I promise you will be searching the phase that netted me Squirt’s jump instructions. Here is my answer and I hope it will get to the front page of Google: This lasted a little over three hours for me – add 20 minutes until the tears stopped and another 10 for a meager attempt at clean-up and dignity retrieval.

As you tentatively retreat from the combat zone, leave the path clear because you may need to go back. Somehow, I was able to sleep that night. But it wasn’t a trusting slumber. I was very dubious of myself and the possibility of a recurrence. If you’re married, I would say this would be a good night to sleep alone. The stakes are high here, and unless your marriage is 100% bulletproof, you don’t want to risk it. Even the strongest relationship could falter should you soil your spouse.

This is my first (and maybe only) sound piece of advice: You might want to start your prep an hour earlier. As long as you can stick to the fast the next day, an earlier prep would make it easier to go to bed with some assurance. Rumor has it some preppers have been awake at 2 – 3 a.m. nervously trying to sing their rectum to sleep.

In the morning, I got up and drank my second cocktail. It wasn’t nearly as bad. Oh, there were more fireworks. But maybe my mind, body, and soul had just given up by then.

Warning: A warm shower might feel tempting, but it also may lull you into a state of relaxation from which you cannot recover unspoiled. Wet tile is hard to navigate quickly, and I can almost promise that you will have disposed of your bathmat in a black trash bag the night before, so it will offer no traction. You’ve been warned.

The colonoscopy itself went off without a hitch. Once you get over the fact that the other three people in the room are involved in inserting a large tube in your anus, it really just feels like a picnic with friends. There’s Propofol and then you wake up rested. Your friends are gone. The picnic is over.

It is odd to have a nice-looking young lady command you to fart before you can go home. I never went on a date like that as a young man, but it worked out.

You might be tempted to think that this will jumpstart a weight-loss regimen. After all, I lost five pounds during the process. But it’s not going to happen because your body hates you now. The body is designed to minimize loss and what you just did makes it feel like you are undermining its mission. So it will hold onto that cheeseburger and large fries you grabbed on the way home for months. In fact, your body is going to slow down it’s metabolic process like a bear in hibernation.

The problem is that you’ll keep eating simply because your prep is done and you can. If things go okay, you don’t have to do it again for five years. Of course, the memory, and possibly some of the destruction, will linger…

My Evil (Colo-Rectal) Plan

Getting old sucks. Or maybe I should say, blows.

Yes, after crossing my 50th year, I have signed up for the ultimate test of bodily humiliation, my first colonoscopy. Yay! I had hoped to live-stream it, but my doctor forbade it. Actually he asked me to find another doctor, but I talked him out of it. I guess all those years of medical school strained out his sense of humor.

But I’m sure there are no colonoscopy jokes he hasn’t heard. Be proud, I didn’t even try them. Instead of cracking the “Aren’t you going to buy me a drink first” gag, I came up with another idea.

As I’ve always heard, the prep is the worst part and that starts at the pharmacy counter when you ask for your prescription. Why does she have to read it loudly to dozens of waiting customers?

“Mr. Myers, here’s your COLON PREP KIT!”

Maybe you’d like to take the store’s intercom: “Cleanup on aisle 1 and Mr. Myers is having a camera on a stick crammed up his…”

rr3Then I took it home and read what it entails. It’s a little frightening. Or… maybe it’s an opportunity. Like Wile E. Coyote unfurling his ACME blueprints, I’ve decided to make this colon blow a family affair. I mean, if you can’t share crap-splatters with your family, who can you share them with?

It actually started with the scheduling of December 13, which is conveniently situated between my two oldest daughters’ birthdays. Yes, one turns 24 on the 12th and the other 22 on the 14th. What says Happy Birthday louder than dad knocking you down on the way to the bathroom for a violent poo?

But to take things a step further, I want to bring the whole family in on the fun. After all, colonoscopy prep isn’t just for birthdays anymore. I’ve decided that I’ll spread the love around by not focusing my colorectal anger on one bathroom. No, I’m going to strategically attack each and every toilet in the house. No one is safe!

“Hey kids, it’s bowel prep night. Invite your friends!”

I feel slightly bad for the birthday girls who share a jack-and-jill bathroom between their bedrooms. But not bad enough to alter my assault plans. In fact, if things get bad during the night, that’s where I’m going. I figure it will make their birthdays even more special and memorable to be torn from a pleasant dream by the smell of dad’s intestines crying.

I even drew a map.


The basement and second floor bathrooms could prove tactically difficult, but I’ve got my headlamp ready and even if I have to low-crawl, I’ll make it.

Five toilets, five destinations. Wish me luck!