A Spoonful of Sugar Helps the Medicine Go Down?
March 19, 2013 6:00 PM   Subscribe

I'm undergoing a colonoscopy soon, and from what I understand, the worst part of the whole procedure is one of the prep liquids you have to guzzle the day and evening before the test. Seriously, those I know who've taken the prep say that toward the end, they struggle (and fail) to keep it down.

I've been prescribed MoviPrep (polyethylene glycol). The instructions from the physician suggest mixing it with Crystal Light. Friends say keep it as cold as possible. Surely there are some hacks out there beyond these two to stop me from wretching. Experience? Ideas?
posted by starkraven to Health & Fitness (34 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Didn't have that, but probably something similar. Cold is good, I guess, but I survived by chugging it. Faster is better.
posted by sandraregina at 6:09 PM on March 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

Struggle to keep it down? I didn't have that problem. I just got really, really, really tired of the taste. Keeping it cold is about the best thing. I don't know anyone who threw up any brand of prep.
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 6:09 PM on March 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

Cold is good. Also, keep yourself warm. Getting rid of that much...material in such a short time has given me crazy chills. My last colonoscopy was in the middle of July, and by the end of the night, I was shaking with cold.

I wouldn't try to chug it down. While it's gross by the end of it, if you go too fast, it can come back up.
posted by xingcat at 6:10 PM on March 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

Previously. tl;dr: drink a swallow of prep followed by something strong right after and keep double fisting until it's gone.

Last two times I had magnesium citrate and stools softeners and while that was way better tasting, it still had the "I wish my toilet had a seat belt" effect.
posted by plinth at 6:10 PM on March 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

I reckon the cold part becomes a problem by the second litre. Your whole body gets cold because you're dehydrating and not moving much. Shivering ensures.

Start you first jug cold, second jug, not so much....cool at best.

Keep your diet low residue for quite a few days before, and poop like the clappers! If you're low res and get most of it in you, you should be ok.

Keep very well hydrated in the days in advance, to make sure your bowel is moving what is in there, as happily as it can.
posted by taff at 6:12 PM on March 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

Also, invest in extremely good toilet paper, or flushable wipes. And Vaseline or baby bottom cream. Your bum may well get a bit sore from all the wiping on the day.
posted by taff at 6:14 PM on March 19, 2013 [4 favorites]

Gatorade may work better than crystal light. Also apple juice (not cider). But cold and fast are your second best friends. Maybe a large straw. Best friend? Tucks.

Not really fun, but also not nearly as bad as you may be anticipating.
posted by mr_felix_t_cat at 6:14 PM on March 19, 2013

Did this last year. I didn't have such a problem keeping it down, but, yeah, the "flushing out" procedure is not fun at all!

My advice:
Yes, Crystal Lite, or Mio, or similar. The prep doesn't taste bad so much as the texture is not pleasant.
Don't look at the liquid. Put it in an opaque cup, and take swallows right in the back of the throat, avoiding the tongue as much as possible.
Breath out through your nose as you drink, so you won't smell the prep. Even though it doesn't have much of an odor, everything helps.
Have some water on hand and take palate cleansing sips as needed. But not much, as your tummy is going to be full enough!
Put on a movie or TV show marathon to keep you distracted.

Not wretch related, but rather "cleansing" related:
Be prepared to sit in the bathroom often and for long stretches. Maybe have some music playing in there, lots of stuff to read, ipad handy, etc.

Good luck. It will be ok, but but I'm glad my doc gave me a clean report, and I'm good for another 10 years.
posted by The Deej at 6:15 PM on March 19, 2013 [2 favorites]

Oh, and I'm sure they told you but I'll repeat: no red or orange dyes in your flavored or palate cleansing drinks. Keep it all clear to be safe!
posted by The Deej at 6:17 PM on March 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

I started the clear liquid diet the day before they said to because I wasn't sure if I could drink all of that stuff. I drank three quarters of it by chugging it down. I think the fact that I had so little solid food in my system made everything easier. I only pooped for an hour then it was over. Of course I don't really know how long others pooped since no one I know really talks about that part.
posted by cairnoflore at 6:24 PM on March 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

My mom kept throwing it up and wasn't able to complete the prep with the liquid solution. On her second try, they gave her a pill to take, instead.
posted by capsizing at 6:26 PM on March 19, 2013

No doubt annoying but the first time the worst..Now, over 5 times over the years and not so bad at all. Getting there is half the fun.
posted by Postroad at 6:34 PM on March 19, 2013

I did this a month or so ago -- my fourth or fifth time. I was prescribed MoviPrep too. Two tips:

1. Drink it through a straw, and put the straw as far back in your mouth as you can so that you minimize the contact with your tongue and so that you never get a big mouth full of the stuff. I even put plastic wrap over the top of of the glass, held with a rubber band, so that I can't smell it while I'm drinking it, and poke the straw through the plastic wrap.
2. Get some peppermints or Werther's hard candy, and the minute you finish drinking, swish some water around in your mouth and pop in a piece of hard candy. This really helps dispel the taste between doses. (I had to drink portions at 15 minutes intervals.)

Good luck. It's a feeling of great victory when you finally get down the last of it.
posted by MelissaSimon at 6:34 PM on March 19, 2013 [4 favorites]

I started throwing up the prep in the second round of prep (~1 hour in) before my colonoscopy. The nurse on duty that I called said they wouldn't be able to do it if I wasn't clear and we'd have to reschedule. It turned out to be fine and I didn't need to reschedule.

But yeah. Just do your best.
posted by zug at 6:35 PM on March 19, 2013

Use a straw; bubble tea or McDonalds straws are the best because they're so wide. I've never heard of people vomiting from it (until this thread).
posted by quince at 6:38 PM on March 19, 2013

OH MY GOD. Do NOT add crystal light. Moviprep already has a salty citrus flavor and crystal light makes it so, so much worse.

Try to drink at least 75% of one half dose. That's usually enough to clear you out unless you haven't been good about your diet beforehand. Try to avoid dairy two days before -- it made a big difference in how much I had to clear out so to speak.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 6:46 PM on March 19, 2013

I learned to take sips of 7Up in between glasses of the Moviprep. Helped keep me from gagging on the taste of the prep, especially towards the end of the jug. Drinking it fast helped keep me from tasting it until the last swallow, followed by a quick swig of 7Up to fool my taste buds. Replace 7Up with your favorite soda or other drink of choice and it should go down easier. Good luck--it's not fun, but it will go quick if you are disciplined.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 7:05 PM on March 19, 2013

I'm one of the vomiters. A dose of phenergan (a prescription anti-nausea drug) did the trick. Perhaps your doc would prescribe that too?
posted by Ollie at 7:23 PM on March 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

On the off-chance that your doctor will let you switch protocols, ask about the Miralax prep instead. In my experience, it's much easier to do than the Moviprep.

Otherwise, yeah, keep it cold and see if you can have anti-nausea meds. I also had hard candies (peppermints) on hand to suck on immediately after each round of chugging in order to get the taste out of my mouth as quickly as possible.
posted by scody at 8:27 PM on March 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

Some people ad flavor, use straws, etc. On the other hand, if you are the sort of person who can chug things, I would go with that. It's quicker and easier and avoids all the slowly working your way through one batch to be ready for the next, gagging on the revolting muck the whole time.

If you do chug:
  • Not too cold -- it's difficult to drink really cold liquid very quickly.
  • Not too much flavor -- it's not spending any appreciable time on your taste buds anyway.
  • Rinse your mouth out when it's down.
Measured dose into appropriate-sized glass, down in one (or two, or three), rinse, move on. I didn't have any problem with it coming back up; doing it slowly would have been much worse.
posted by Quinbus Flestrin at 8:53 PM on March 19, 2013

Can you ask your doctor if you can use Pico-Salax (sodium picosulfate plus magnesium oxide) instead? I've had it twice now and it was quite tolerable. Mix the package into a cup of water, drink, and drink another cupful several hours later. No chugging required.

If you can't find Pico-Salax, Prepopik should now be available in the States, but from what I can see, it's at a ridiculous price. Americans in this forum say that depending on their insurance, they had to pay $70 or $220, instead of the $20 or so it costs in Canada.

You still have to drink enough non-medicinal clear fluids to keep you hydrated and supply you with electrolytes. I found that clear "grape" Gatorade, which was just too sweet, was more likely to make me queasy than anything, so I had maybe 2 bottles total of lemon-lime Gatorade and apple juice or chicken broth the rest of the time.

(Doctors love Gatorade, but if you're having salty chicken broth and sweet apple juice, your electrolytes should be fine.)
posted by wexford_arts at 9:19 PM on March 19, 2013

I was a vomiter when I had to do a Suprep. In my... defense? I was trying to be a hero by chugging it, and I am always slightly nauseous in the morning, so I should have known better (Suprep is a split dose where the latter half is taken the morning of the procedure).

So... don't be a hero. I mean, don't savor it, but chugging may very well make you puke.
posted by telegraph at 9:39 PM on March 19, 2013

Also, if you're in the habit of closing the lid after you use the toilet normally - don't. Just don't. Not worth the worry about making it in time. Just leave your book/iphone/ipad/whatever in the bathroom, at least for the first hour or so.
posted by jvilter at 10:00 PM on March 19, 2013

Don't plan on going anywhere except the bathroom. You may vomit, but the 'cocktail' definitely works to clean out your colon.
posted by Cranberry at 10:53 PM on March 19, 2013

I'm going to second asking your doctor to switch to the Miralax prep option. I've had two colonoscopies: for the first, I took Fleet Phosphosoda, which was pretty salty and unpleasant tasting. For the second, I had Miralax mixed with a 64oz container of Gatorade. I think I drank 8oz every 15 minutes. I couldn't taste the Miralax AT ALL. There was absolutely nothing unpleasant about it. The only difference between that and Gatorade was it was just slightly thicker.

As far as the bathroom experience was concerned, both times I found it mostly curious and funny. There is a huge difference between having the poops because you're feeling unwell vs. evacuating because you've taken medicine to do so. Both times I've just been so impressed at how efficient my body is at getting the job done. It's like pooping with an exclamation point!
posted by funkiwan at 11:45 PM on March 19, 2013 [2 favorites]

Keep it cold, as others have noted. For me, it was the taste that was the problem, not the consistency. I found that if I started breathing through my mouth instead of my nose a couple minutes before I had to take a drink, it dealt with most of the taste issues.
posted by NotMyselfRightNow at 4:58 AM on March 20, 2013

I had a big plastic jug of something, I think the same stuff you mentioned (I added water to a powder in the jug), and for me it was more the sheer volume I had to drink, rather than the taste or consistency, that was a challenge. But, one cup at a time, I did it. You can too.
posted by Dansaman at 5:50 AM on March 20, 2013 [2 favorites]

I didn't find the taste of the prep intolerable until I got down to the last couple of glasses, and I didn't add Crystal Lite or anything to it. I drank ginger ale between doses of the prep, which helped with both taste and stomach-soothing.

Nthing that you should invest in some flushable wipes. The unmedicated ones you can get in the toilet paper aisle are probably fine unless you have a specific issue in that area.

I was given dietary restrictions for the 24-48 hours before I even began the liquid prep that I think helped (no nuts and seeds, no red meat, maybe no dairy but can't remember now) - I had heard so many horror stories about colonoscopy prep and I feel like mine was relatively easy. But I was having the procedure because of...issues... that may have made the prep easier for me.
posted by camyram at 6:05 AM on March 20, 2013

thirding the Gatorade option. Just be sure it is a clear colored variety.
posted by Gungho at 7:36 AM on March 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

A Different Suggestion: WARM. Seriously. I see I am alone on this so far, but hear me out.

The stuff is slightly salty. I tasted it before adding any flavoring and it's just bland and salty and slightly thick. I thought, "Soup!" I drank it out of a mug, microwaving each one to about the temperature of a cup of cocoa. I closed my eyes, sipped, and concentrated on convincing myself it was bland cream soup. No problem! I mean, all sorts of flavors that are acceptable or desirable in soup, such as sour, salty, or even slightly bitter, (thick texture, too), are off-putting in some fruity drink. Don't fight it, embrace it!
posted by probably not that Karen Blair at 7:39 AM on March 20, 2013

I've always found the best mix to be half prep/ half apple juice. I don't like any of the flavor packets that are provided. Somewhere around the ninth prep i had to do I discovered that the chicken broth/soup from my favorite hibachi restaurant was the best chaser ever.
posted by Talia Devane at 7:45 AM on March 20, 2013

I was only able to drink about half of my prep jug liquid and they said that was okay.
posted by Rash at 9:41 AM on March 20, 2013

I actively enjoyed the stuff they gave me to drink. Tasted like a sports drink, kinda. I'm not sure if there are different kinds or brands with different tastes, but honestly, it wasn't unpleasant at all, to me at least.

I think at least part of the problem that people have may be that so many other people have told them it's terrible.

In terms of the pooping, well, I also kind of enjoyed the feeling of being utterly cleaned out. Getting there was... interesting, in a learning-about-your-body way, and nothing like as bad as the few times I've had food poisoning.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:51 PM on March 20, 2013

I called the office early on in the process and said, "Seriously, is ALL of this actually required?" and they said, "Nah, about half should be fine as long as it's working." Oh, it was working. I too agree the experience was ... interesting.
posted by cairnish at 12:22 PM on March 21, 2013

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