This may very well be the hardest part of the whole process.
Your doctor will probably give you a pamphlet informing you about what a colonoscopy is and preparation instructions. In order to allow the the doctor to get full access to your bowels, they must be flushed completely of solid waste. This is done via powerful laxatives. The two most widely used are Phospho-Soda & polyethylene glycol(PEG). If you have a choice, Phospho-Soda is a bit less involved and you probably have a lesser chance of getting sick to your stomach. PEG is usually used in situations where you’re known to have kidney problems as Phospho-Soda can be hard on the kidneys.
Note: Phospho-Soda has been discontinued from markets in the USA(possibly elsewhere as well) due to the possibility of kidney problems. So PEG is the go to option now.
It is important to eat lightly during the days leading up to when your preparations begin. You should not eat anything with artificial colors in it, be sure to read the pamphlet you get and follow all the direction outlined as far as dietary guidelines go.
You will need some form of entertainment, preferably something you can place in the bathroom as you will be spending a considerable amount of time in there. A portable radio or TV is a good choice. Magazines or books would also work. Also high quality toilet paper, something soft – you’ll be using it quite a bit.
Liquid consumption is very important! You must stay hydrated while flushing out your system. There is quite a bit of water leaving your body during this process and becoming dehydrated will only make you feel worse. Take small sips often, don’t guzzle or you might make yourself sick. If you can find a water with electrolytes in it, that would be best. Again avoid things that have artificial colors like sports drinks.
Most of the time you must repeat the flushing routine a couple of hours after your first flushing. This is why it’s important you have the day off, so you can devote the entire day to being as comfortable as physically possible during this process. I mistakenly thought I could come home after work in the evening & get the job done in the 13 – 14 hours I had before my colonoscopy. I ended up spending all night in the bathroom and the preps were back to back thanks to being short on time and the duration of each flushing routine. At least my doctor said I had one of the cleanest lower bowels he’d ever seen. 😉
Phospho-Soda tastes terrible. It tastes essentially like baking soda, salty & bitter. They make varying flavors of the stuff, but truthfully the flavorings are not very helpful. You must mix it with another liquid, you can use a clear soft drink, such as Sprite or 7-Up(lemon/lime flavored soda). During my preparations I believe I mixed 1.5oz of Phospho-Soda with about 8oz of Sprite. Your direction may vary, it’s probably best to try to follow the pamphlet your doctor gave you. At this juncture gulping is probably the best way to go. Try to get the liquid to the back of your throat and down before it hits your taste buds. Go slow, but do not savor! Take a deep breath through your nose if you feel nauseated. You can gargle or rinse your mouth out to get rid of the after taste. Some people suggest chomping on ice, during or even before. This may help numb your taste buds so the taste is less intense.
The drinking of the Phospho-Soda was probably the hardest part for me. Once that was done it was a matter of letting it go to work. It did become tiring constantly having to go to the bathroom and for me it was a probably 4 – 5 hours each routine I did before I stopped having loose/liquid stool. For some people their system reacts much more quickly and they’re done within an or hour a few hours. Others it may take many hours.