I know that some people have had many more, but I've had 4 colonoscopies in 5 years. And in that time, I've learned a few tricks. Some people don't have any trouble (those people are rare) - if you don't, and don't want to get psyched out, then again - move along. Nothing to see here. Just a basket of puppies.
After a night of that, going into the hospital, stripping down, and getting a roto-rooter camera up your butt doesn't seem that bad because at least you'll get a good nap without being woken up by the sudden urge to fart (except you know it's not a fart. How there could be anything left, you won't know at 3 am - but you do know not to trust a fart after a gallon of laxatives so you get up anyways). It's a good sleep. And the fog you have when wake up is worth it, because you get at least one more poop-free nap when you get home. Unless you have trust issues. At which point you might want to wear Depends. Get over the shame - you were just roto-rootered.
This whole thing is prompted by the fact that colonoscopies seem to be a trendy way to end or start the year. And I've heard that a few people aren't feeling well, so I hope that this at least makes you smile a little bit. Below are some of my top tips from my most recent Plumbing Exam. I will preface this by saying that since I am not your physician, his/her advice definitely overrides mine. And also there are several different kinds of colonscopy prep, so obviously listen to your doc about yours.
(1) Practice chugging. If you were a good kid like me, you never learned the fine art of chugging in college. I didn't because of the timing of my Crohn's diagnosis. And also I didn't like beer (the feeling was mutual...). I've learned chugging through these exams, but the worst part of all the different kinds of prep is the sheer volume of liquid that you're required to consume in a relatively short period of time. I don't mind telling you that it's hard enough for me to drink my 8 glasses of water in a whole day, let alone a gallon in 2-4 hours. So in the days leading up to your exam, it won't hurt to practice pounding back a few glasses of water at a time. Bonus: pre-funk hydration is key.
(2) Find a method that works. This depends on your prep, but I've only ever had Golytely (or Trilytely - neither appropriately named). The basics of most of these preps is to assault your system with too much salt and it just expels ALL THE THINGS from your digestive track. Something about all of this salt in the mix that changes the texture of the water just a little. Ever accidentally swallow sea water? Not only is it straight up salty and gag-worthy, but it's a little... viscous. Just not right. Not right at all. After about the half-way mark, Golytely gives me THAT feeling. Now - keeping it chill really helps. But that also makes it harder to pound back (Salty Ice Cream Headache without the joy of ice cream and with all the pain and sorrow of salty tears). To miss the gag reflex, I used a straw for a few times. It works for some people. If you don't mind the smell of things, just chug-a-lug out of a regular glass. But my new favorite is out of little plastic water bottles. Easy to chug from without smelling, and I found little ones that were the perfect size for the 8 oz chug times.
(3) Don't drink between chugs. You will want to cleanse your mouth to remove the unholy terror that is Golytely. With something. Anything. But let me promise you - it just takes up valuable stomach space for the chugging. You will be hungry. You may not think that you could fill up on some salty exile fluid. But you can. And you will. And you will feel grosser than that one time you ordered a XL chili dog with super sized onion rings and a chocolate shake and regretted it immediately but strangely couldn't stop eating. Or that other time with the gravy. So. Much. Gravy. You'll feel like that. And even though there's no grease, just salt, it does weird grimy things. Speaking of grimy...
(4) You'll want a shower. You will be going to the bathroom. A lot. This is obvious. What you may or may not be familiar with is the urge to shower. Between the toilet frequency, gross bloaty feeling, and that weird sweating (has to be the salt, right?), you'll consider several showers over the night. But you'll have to time it carefully, because you'll need to use the restroom again. Proceed with caution.
(5) Buy some super gooshy toilet paper. The reasons should be obvious.
(6) Bring something to do. Whether sudoku, a book, solitaire, or your twitter feed... maybe movie streaming on your laptop? You'll be in and out so often, that you might as well just camp out. It sounds weird, until you're there. All shame leaves right around your 4th or 5th flush.
(7) Find a dye-free flavor that you like, but won't mind never drinking again. Most preps come with a flavor packet - lemon is common. After the second prep I realized that I needed a new flavor because I got some sort of pavlovian response to the lemon and would start gagging well before I started pooping. Once I was able to find a lemon-lime-cherry flavor without red dye (what?!? I know right!!). This time I found some peachy thing that was good. But you'll never want to drink that flavor again. Seriously. And be sure to read your prep directions carefully about your dye limitations.
(8) Don't. Trust. A Fart. Once you start drinking, all bets are off.
(9) Make jokes. The process sucks. It just does. But find people who laugh with you, keep you company, and keep you sane. It will take several hours, and it will take a lot of you. It gets better in the morning. But it's also easy to get really psyched out by the whole process. People who have been there will laugh at you. People who are grossed out by it might ignore you for a little while. Get over it - they will. It's just poop being forcibly expelled at rapid velocity and high frequency. Get over it.
(10) Remember: It will be over soon. As terrible as this evening is, it's just the one evening. And you will feel better in the morning. You will want to eat. You will stop sweating in weird ways. The bloating will go away. The world will keep turning. And you will return to normal bathroom visits.
To everyone undergoing checks this year (whether planned or due to illness), I wish you all the best of luck with quick and easy preps, and good news on all your labs. And keep smiling - because you're never alone in this.