I have always had what I call a “sensitive stomach”. My gut will react very quickly if I eat something it doesn’t like, but I always just put it down to the nuances of my body and got on with life, continuing to eat everything and just dealing with the consequences.
But earlier this year I ended up at my GP and he decided it warranted some further investigation. Fast forward to seeing a specialist gastroenterologist who said I needed a colonoscopy and gastroscopy. Say whaaattttttt! But my symptoms combined with iron deficiency for no apparent reason warranted further investigation to rule out something more serious such as Coeliac disease, bowel cancer, etc.
So I forked out the money and found myself aged 27 faced with the prospect of having a camera stuck up my bum and down my throat, and of course, the notorious bowel cleanse (shudder). I wasn’t too nervous about the procedure itself as it was performed under twilight anesthesia and I was assured I would be totally out of it, but the thought of the prep didn’t fill me with joy.
Step 1: Eat a low fibre diet for at least 3 days prior to the procedure. This is more difficult than you would imagine. It’s basically the anti-diet and goes against everything you have been taught about nutrition. No fruit, no veggies (at all, even tomato ketchup is off limits), no whole grains, etc, etc. I ended up living off tuna sandwiches on white bread, tuna with white pasta, and some sushi (ensuring no avocado or onion or anything remotely tasty). It wasn’t fun, but it was only for a few days. I was told that this is one of the most important steps, so I adhered strictly to the rules, no way I was risking it not working!
Step 2: The day before the procedure I was told I was allowed breakfast as per low fibre diet, but then that would be it for food until after the procedure. It wasn’t actually too bad – I had a big breakfast of poached eggs on toast, and I was allowed to drink clear fluids including apple juice, so I felt ok. The hard part was watching T and mum eat a big delicious dinner!
Step 3: Bowel cleanse. The afternoon before the procedure you have to essentially take a whole lot of laxatives. Over 3 litres of it, and let me tell you, that stuff is Nasty with a capital N. I started off taking some pills and drinking 1 glass of laxative and remember thinking hey this is fine, I don’t feel anything, HA. Then I moved onto the bulk of the laxative drink. At first I didn’t think the taste was too bad. After the second glass of it you start to feel a bit queasy with every sip, and by the third you bloody hate the stuff. Especially when you calculate how many more glasses you’ll have to drink of it, ergh. This is when things really start to happen. It is like a hose coming out of your bottom, and you don’t really have any control over when it comes, so don’t wander far from the toilet! I was totally drained and exhausted by the time I finished drinking the stuff and just wanted to sleep, but that’s not really possible when you’re running for the loo every 2 minutes. Ouch.
TOP TIPS for the bowel prep!
- Shotgun the toilet for the night.
- Buy lanolin ointment or something similar because that shit (literally) hurts after a while.
- Wet wipes. Nuff said.
- Buy sugar cane candies to suck whilst you drink the laxative, it helps with the taste.
- Have gatorade on hand to swig after every mouthful. Helps keep you hydrated and again helps get rid of the taste.
D Day arrived and I had to be up at 6am to finish off (more) laxative. I was not too happy about this and was pretty hangry at this point. This is a photo of me happy to have finished the whole 3 litres! No idea about the outfit, was past caring by that point.
Anyhoo off we went to the hospital and the procedure itself was totally fine, I don’t remember anything, I went off to sleep in the room and woke up in recovery. The drugs made me feel pretty damn drunk for a while after, so I just went home and slept for the afternoon.
I had big plans for all the food I was going to eat, but my stomach shrank after not eating for over 24 hours, so for the next few days I was only able to eat very small amounts. Don’t worry though, I soon stretched it back to normal!
Happily all my results were normal, but I have been advised to eat a gluten free and FODMAP’s free diet from now on. I live off all things FODMAPpy like onion and garlic and avo, so I’m finding it difficult to eat things that meet the guidelines, are tasty, and are healthy too.
If there’s anyone else in the same boat I would LOVE some recipe ideas, I’ve already had a few pinterest cooking fails this week!