Schedule your test for late afternoon. “Theoretically, then you could do the prep the same day,” says Dr. Gregory Olds, chief of interventional gastroenterology at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit. An early morning appointment might require you to start fasting the previous afternoon, disrupting your schedule.
Clear your calendar. Most people are sedated for the procedure, says Olds. It’s not the day to drive or make decisions.
Understand your insurance. Screening colonoscopies are free for adults over age 50. However, if the doctor finds a polyp, the colonoscopy will be considered diagnostic and you’ll have to pay a percentage, depending on your insurance. Also, make sure everyone working on you is “in network,” or you may be charged extra fees.
Drink gently. As part of the prep, you’ll have to drink four liters (about one gallon) of liquid mixed with a laxative. If the laxative nauseates you, stop drinking, wait 15 minutes, and resume. “The refrigerated drink may also make you cold,” says registered nurse Natalie Bowser, who specializes in colonoscopy preparation at Cleveland Clinic’s Euclid Hospital in Euclid, Ohio. “Have a cup of hot tea, then continue drinking the preparation.”
Sit ringside. To have an accident-free respite once the trots begin, Bowser suggests, put a chair in the bathroom and read a book between bouts.
Don’t starve. Fill up on clear liquids—apple juice, yellow or green Jello, chicken bouillon—on prep day. If you have a problem fasting, ask whether you can have low-fiber foods like white rice, Olds suggests.
Dress for the occasion. Skip buttons: Sweats are easy to pull on if you’re still out of it post-procedure.
Hold off on pigging out. Even if you’re starving afterward, avoid overdoing it. The anesthesia can slow down the movement of your food from your stomach to your small intestine, leaving you feeling uncomfortably full and nauseated.