08 June 2018

My Colonoscopy and Endoscopy Experience

Last month, I had to undergo a colonoscopy and an endoscopy. For those of you who don’t know what these are, a colonoscopy is a procedure where a doctor (usually a Gastroenterologist) inserts a long, thin tube inside the patient’s rectum. The tube has a tiny video camera which is connected to a screen where it shows the live images, and this is used to look at the colon (aka large intestine) for any abnormalities. An endoscopy is pretty much the same thing, but this time the tube is inserted down the patient’s throat to look at his or her digestive tract.

Why did I have both procedures? Well, it started late last year. From what I remember, I was feeling fine when suddenly, one day I felt sick: high fever, colds, chilling, vomiting, loss of appetite, mild diarrhea. I figured it was simply the normal flu or virus because it was the winter season; and the doctor thought so too because he just prescribed me some medicines for URTI and to take a couple of days rest. That was in December.

Fast forward to the end of February, I fell sick again. Same symptoms, and again the General Practitioner didn't think it was anything different, so we just passed it off as another regular illness because the weather was changing.

In April it happened again. Just like the past two instances, I simply thought that maybe I caught it from my daughters who fell sick at the same time. But after realizing it was my third time in a span of four months, I became worried. So leaving work early that day, I went to the hospital and asked to see a doctor. When the nurse who took my vitals asked what was wrong, I told him my symptoms and explained why I was worried. After a few minutes, he directed me to their Internal Specialist. The doctor then asked me several questions about my health history, after which, she recommended me to have some tests (blood, urine, stool, and ultrasound) so they could check what exactly was wrong with me.

A few days later, the results came out, and although everything was generally normal, my calprotectin level was off the charts. The normal range is less than 50, borderline is 55-99, but mine was a whopping 1,807. Yikes! Of course I googled about it, which we all know is usually not a good idea because it just makes you worry more, but well, that’s what normal people do, right? Anyway, the doctor then scheduled me for an appointment with the Gastroenterologist, who then recommended me to have a colonoscopy. I was hesitant because hello! a long tube was going to be inserted up my butt. That isn’t exactly a walk in the park! But after checking with my brother and his wife (they’re both in the medical field) and after more googling (because I just can’t help it), I figured it would be better to go through with it now than prolonging it until it's too late to cure whatever it is I may have.

So after we got the approval from my insurance, we scheduled the colonoscopy for the 23rd of May at 8pm (night time because of Ramadan). Unfortunately, the preparation for that was not pretty.

Since my colon had to be clear for the procedure, I had to take Klean-Prep, which is a medicine of 4 sachets, to poop out everything I had eaten and drank. 1 sachet had to be dissolved in 1 liter of water and I was supposed to consume a glass of the mixture every 15 minutes. Except for this medicine and clear liquids, I wasn’t allowed to eat or drink anything else 24 hours before my colonoscopy.  And the very last drink should be 8 hours prior.
The night before my procedure, I drank only one sachet. It wasn’t as easy as I thought because after just half of my first glass, I wanted to throw up; that’s how disgusting it tasted! And to think I had to finish the rest of the mixture. Ugh! The good thing was it started working after less than 2 hours (by then I had consumed a little more than half), and I had to rush to the bathroom several times. By 1am, I finally managed to finish the entire 1 liter...and already lost count of the time I had spent in the bathroom. 

The next morning, I continued drinking the Klean-Prep. I had taken a leave off work because no way did I want to spend the entire day in the office bathroom. Maybe my taste buds had become accustomed to it, or it helped that I used cold water, or the medicine really wasn’t all that bad (which I doubt), I managed to down the liquid easily and without any problems this time. However, I left over a little more than half of the 4th mixture when I saw that my stool had become yellow and clear like urine.  Sorry, TMI.

Finally, Hubby and I were at the hospital and the time of my colonoscopy arrived. After signing the necessary papers, I was led to the room where I had to change into a pair of pants that had a slit and cover at the back. I told the nurses and doctor that I wanted to be asleep during the procedure; but even though they gave me a sedative, I was awake the entire time and I could see what the colonoscope was showing on the screen, including the times when a few polyps and biopsies were being taken out.  Initially, I had to lie on my left side, then after a while I was asked to lay down on my chest, then finally on my back. There were times when I experienced stomach cramps (some of them even made me cry out in pain), but thankfully it didn’t last long. The entire procedure took 20 minutes, and after the tube was removed, that's when I went to sleep. As soon as I woke, the nurse asked me how I was feeling. My answer? “Hungry!” She immediately ordered a toasted chicken sandwich and apple juice which I consumed right away as soon as they were brought in.
post-colonoscopy selfie with Hubby
I was told that it would take 7 to 10 days for the results to come out, so two hours after we had entered the hospital, Hubby and I were on our way home.

I didn't feel weak or anything like that the next day so I went back to work.  In the afternoon, I received a call from the hospital saying that the insurance had approved my endoscopy; so wanting to get it over with as soon as possible, I asked to schedule it the following Saturday afternoon.

Fortunately, there were no disgusting preparations needed for that procedure.  I just had to fast from food and water 8 hours prior.  After my experience in prepping for the colonoscopy, this was easy peasy.
signing the papers before my endoscopy
However, since a tube would be inserted down my throat (and no way did I want to be awake during this procedure!) I repeatedly told all the nurses and doctor that I wanted to sleep.  I said the sedative they gave during my colonoscopy didn't work, so this time they had to make sure I would be unconscious during the endoscopy.  I practically insisted that they shouldn't start until I was fully asleep.

Once the doctor gave the signal, a nurse gave me the sedative through the IV, sprayed something in my mouth to numb my throat (it tasted a bit like banana flavour), attached a rubber device to my mouth between my teeth where they would put the endoscope through, and the last thing I remembered was trying to swallow.  Hurray, I conked out! ☺

I think I woke up 30 minutes later and my bed was pushed to a recovery room where I went back to sleep.  Finally waking up a few more minutes later, I felt a kind of discomfort in my throat.  It didn't hurt and it was bearable, but it did last until the next day.
post-endoscopy selfie with Hubby
The entire time we spent at the hospital this time was 2.5 hours (just 30 minutes more than my colonoscopy), probably because I took more time to sleep...and since I still felt sleepy because of the sedative, I continued my snooze at home.

As for the results of these procedures, I'm happy to say that both were ok and there's nothing to worry about the polyps and biopsies that were taken out.  However, the doctor did prescribe Pentasa which I need to drink twice a day for a month.  It's granules that need to be dissolved in water and tastes bitter like aspirin, but that's alright.  I'm just thankful that what I have is curable.
So if you're going to have a colonoscopy or endoscopy (or both) soon, don't worry.  If I was able to handle it (and believe me, I have a low pain tolerance), you can too.  I do recommend, though, that you ask to be asleep during the endoscopy, just to be sure ☺
feeling silly after my endoscopy

No comments:

Post a Comment

Popular Posts