Quick report from my 12th colonoscopy (in 16 years) where I used the MiraLAX and Gatorade colonoscopy prep. Also, I encountered some new billing procedures and expenses during this visit, and my GI found a polyp. Here's the story.
MiraLAX and Gatorade colonoscopy prep
For this colonoscopy, my GI doctor, Dr. Marc Taormina, recommended I return to one of my preferred preps from the past: MiraLAX and Gatorade. I know this bowel prep isn't everyone's favorite, but it's much better than the gallons of salt water-tasting stuff I used to drink in the early days circa 2001.
In my case, since I've had a subtotal colectomy, I cut the prep instructions in half since I've got an itty-bitty colon to clean out.
Bad Decision - starting the MiraLAX too late
Because I'm a frequent flyer to these colonoscopy prep procedures, I didn't buy the prep supplies until about 5:30 on prep night. I took advantage of them being over the counter, but in the end, it backfired. I did start drinking the prep liquid, but it wasn't until close to 6:30 or 7pm.
It didn't take me too long to realize I'd made a bad decision on colonoscopy prep night.
Tip: Don't wait that long to buy your supplies. Although yes, you can technically go to the store and buy these over-the-counter products for your bowel prep after 5pm the night before your colonoscopy, I don't advise it.
The MiraLAX and Gatorade prep can take several hours to kick in. Even with my really short colon, I've often waited two to three hours for my bathroom trips to begin. Because it was almost 7 p.m. before most of the prep was in me, I ended up spending almost all night and the early morning hours going to the bathroom.
MiraLAX and Gatorade taste
The reason this is one of my preferred bowel preps is I "like" the taste of this prep over many other options. I can choose the Gatorade flavor (just avoid the red, purple and orange flavors.) I keep the Gatorade cold so it's even easier to go down. The MiraLAX is pretty tasteless, and it dissolves easily into the sports drink.
When I visit Dr. Taormina, he is pleased with the cleanout job and says my colon is clear. The products are affordable. Mixing them together is pretty simple to do. In fact, I made a few videos a few years back to show how I shop, prep and take the MiraLAX and Gatorade prep on the night before a colonoscopy. Check it out:
MiraLAX and gatorade side effects
Although MiraLAX and Gatorade prep offers many perks and it does a good job of cleaning out my colon, it does have a major setback, or side effect, for me: dehydration. It's not uncommon for me to struggle with urgency issues for several days following a colonoscopy when I use this prep. It seems like it takes a few days for the MiraLAX to wear off; it's like the laxative stays in my system. This can really drain me.
This has nothing to do with the MiraLAX and Gatorade prep, but I was grateful for the affordability of the prep products because of how much money it cost me to get a colonoscopy. I think it's important to talk about this, not to discourage someone from getting screened, but to be real about how much it can cost.
The cost of my annual colonoscopies is not something I often recap in my health updates, but I feel it's important to mention. (Note: If you're in the recommended colon cancer screening age, this doesn't apply to you since your screening should be covered outside of you hitting your deductible.)
BUT, I share because I think there's a lot of young patients out there like me who need these procedures because you're seeing colon cancer symptoms, you have another health condition, or you're a young colon cancer survivor like me.
I fully own the miscommunication on my end, or should I say lack of availability for communication. I was traveling for several days and then jumped back into work, wife and mom-mode. I didn't check all of my voicemails (I assumed when I answered the call for the check-in questions that's why they'd been calling). I also neglected to open my mail and get the notice from the billing office until the night I stopped to look for prep instructions.
Please tell me I'm not the only one who does this.
By the time I read the letter explaining I owed over $1,600 upon check in (unless I called the business office ahead of time to arrange payments), it was too late. The sinking feeling in my tummy probably helped with my bowel prep that night.
Thankfully I had a credit card on me the next morning and I try to save back funds for emergencies like this. The procedure carried on. BUT I share this for two reasons:
Check with billing dept. ASAP
If you're getting a colonoscopy (even if you get them every year like me), check with the billing office and ask about the up-front charges. This had never happened to me, as my previous insurance plan worked differently, and I didn't owe so much up front. Don't assume insurance coverage or charges will work the same year to year. Also, if the GI office keeps calling from one number, it might be coming from multiple people.
Cost barriers to getting a colonoscopy are very real
The cost barriers to healthcare are very real. I can't imagine what this would have cost if I didn't have insurance. Even with insurance, I could have bought a used car for what it cost me to have a colonoscopy. And I do this every year.
It's not cheap to stay healthy (or alive), and especially if there's a genetic disease, pre-existing condition or other situation threatening it. It doesn't take away the need for screening, but the reasons many don't get screened are very real. I felt it on a whole new level this year.
The colonoscopy results
Once I got to the surgery center, the colonoscopy went great.
I'm a big fan of the nap I take during the scope. Those few seconds of being put under are some of my favorites out of the entire year (I know I'm weird). I woke up what felt like hours later (but it was only a few minutes) and I hadn't felt a thing. Seriously, it's that easy.
The good news is my colon was cleaned out very well for the colonoscopy thanks to the MiraLAX and Gatorade, and the doctor got a good view of my colon. The frustrating news: I had one colon polyp removed.
He wasn't concerned about it, and he felt confident it was benign. But still: Here's what I wrote in my prayer journal leading up to the scope:
No polyps in my colonoscopy and clean bill of health.
I couldn't help but have flashbacks to years prior when I prayed:
- to not get cancer again - and yet I did
- for a polyp to be benign - and yet it was malignant
With another crisis of faith on the horizon, the distraction of getting dressed and walking to the car broke the oncoming emotional train wreck about to hit. Which was probably a really good thing.
Perspective and support
Our roommate Nicole and my hubby Mike waited at the doctor's office during my colonoscopy and once I got the "all clear" to leave, they didn't only get me home safe, but they went above and beyond. Homemade breakfast sandwiches, bags of candy corn and glasses of Sprite were soon served to help me recover.
They sat with me, listened as I processed the news of a polyp, and took care of everything around the house so I could rest and recover. Their care helped me feel the love. Their presence alone was a great gift for this cancer survivor.
Dr. Marc Taormina
As the day went on, I reflected on having Dr. Marc Taormina as my doctor, and I was so thankful for his diligence to take care of me. His confidence that my polyp was benign helped calm my anxiety. (His text several days later with a screen shot of the lab report confirmed it.)
I'm grateful for his care through the course of my survivorship and that our doctor-patient relationship has become a full-circle friendship. His reassurance that I am healthy and going to be OK was what I needed to not spiral down and once again lose my faith in the moment of my unanswered prayer.
God has used him to heal me and keep me well.
Peace after my colonoscopy
Colonoscopy #12 was a unique one. It wasn't like some of the others that came without financial burden and zero polyps. But it also wasn't like some of the life-altering ones where cancer was found or a big surgery was recommended. And the MiraLAX and Gatorade prep was a winner.
I don't have the same dread going into colonoscopies that I once did, which is good, because I'll need another colonoscopy next year.