First colonoscopy experience

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I thought I'd post my colonoscopy experience to reassure anyone who is (very understandably!) nervous about the experience. I am a 30 year old female with lower right abdominal pain and had a colonoscopy last Wednesday to try and diagnose the problem. The procedure took place at ********, near Manchester.

I have to say that I don't think I have ever been so frightened about anything in my entire life before. It probably didn't help reading lots of horror stories online but I reasoned that people are far more likely to post about a negative experience than a positive one.

I had to take the Moviprep solution to clear me out as well as 4 senna tablets. I was DREADING this so much! It really wasn't half as bad as I expected, the worst part was drinking the stuff! Like vile, salty, synthetic lemon flavoured water, bleurgh! Mixed it with some orange squash after chilling it in the fridge for a few hours. This was a great tip, def much easier to drink when cold. Had plenty of fizzy soft drinks, clear chicken soup and orange jelly to hand. Hunger wasn't too much of a problem as I was so full from all the liquid I was downing. Best tip I can give for the prep is to have a clear mint ready to suck on quickly after drinking the prep to take the taste away. Buy in plenty of baby bum wipes, put the heating on and get some magazines for when you're on the loo!

No cramping or unpleasant sensations at all. About an hour after the first litre I felt I had to go but with no discomfort. Crude detail (but hey, I'm past any embarrassment on this matter!) when I started to go I didn't even realise it was happening at first! It does literally 'pour out' like water with no pain at all. The sore bum comes from all the wiping instead. This went on for about two hours by which point I was ready for my second litre of the prep. This was a little harder to get down and did make me feel a bit sick but didn't throw up. Again the bowel motions started about an hour later and lasted for about three hours. By this point I was passing what looked like clear water (very bizarre, can only describe as 'weeing out of your bum'!).

I was incredibly relieved when this was all over but by then the panic about the actual procedure had properly set in so I didn't get a wink of sleep at all and spent the entire night watching rubbish tv and shaking. For me, the worst part was the drive to the hospital, I was panicking like mad about soiling myself and the imminent procedure. Got there with no problems despite the non-stop panic attacks!

All the nurses were incredibly kind. I was very nervous that my prep wasn't good enough and I wouldn't be clean. I had some darker (but still all liquid) bowel movements before we left for the hospital which was really concerning me. The nurse reassured me that most likely there would hardly be anything left in my bowel and if there was they would have a little suction device that could remove it. I was still worried about soiling myself as I waited for the procedure but again they were all really kind, said not to worry, if it happens it happens and they'd just get rid of it before I even knew.

A nurse put a needle into my arm for them to put the sedative into and then I was wheeled into the room. There was very little embarrassment factor as the nurses were all so matter of fact. I had had to say that I had really bad piles, the prep hadn't helped this situation much! So they put a little local anasthetic on them so it wouldn't hurt. They gave me some painkiller through the needle port (I believe it was pethidine) and this started to make me feel a little dizzy. They then flushed the port with saline solution (the nurse said this was so they wouldn't waste any of the 'good stuff'!) before giving me the sedative. This starts to work in about three minutes.

I was not asleep at all but felt relaxed. It helped that they played soothing music in the background and had dimmed the lights. I was lucky in that all the people in the room were female which had also put me at ease somewhat. The colonoscopist then inserted a finger into my anus to check that the prep was successful (this made me jump a bit but I can't say that it really hurt). The scope was then inserted. There was no pain at all when this happened. The only point when I felt anything was when she turned a corner and I got a sharp pain which only lasted seconds. I swore loudly but to put it into perspective I was more worried about the swearing than the actual pain and kept apologising to all the staff (the sedative must have been doing it's work by this point!!). When I swore they immediately topped up the sedative.

There were no other moments of pain at all. I was fascinated by the screen and my colonoscopist was great at explaining where the scope was and what was going on. I had four biopsies taken and again this didn't hurt at all. I felt what can only be described as a tiny bubble popping inside me whenever they took the samples. It was all over in half an hour and I was so relieved (not to mention stoned) that I couldn't stop thanking all the staff profusely!!

I had a very high pulse before the procedure (I was described by the nurse checking me as a 'frightened rabbit!) so they left me in bed for half and hour or so and kept checking my blood pressure. I then got up and had a cup of tea. I had no discomfort but a little bit of wind. My boyfriend was then allowed to drive me home and was incredibly entertained by my explosively loud farts all the way home! (Again I thought I would be embarrassed by this but there is no smell as you are empty and the sedative means that you don't really care anyway!). Had a lot of gas and a few trapped wind pains but all was normal and was very glad to be able to eat again.

The next morning I had a perfectly normal bowel motion, and still felt a little groggy from the meds but no complications at all. I know it's very difficult not to get stressed about having this procedure but honestly nowhere near as bad as I imagined it to be at all. I really hope that this will reassure people. Just remember the baby bum wipes!!!!

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2 likes, 8 replies

8 Replies

  • Posted

    Thanks for your post. I was told today that I need a colonoscopy and I'm a bit nervous. Iwas reassured (and amused) by your story. Thanks a lot. Hope all is well with you.
  • Posted

    I believe that if you fear the worst, things won't be as bad as you think. In that spirit I'll be honest.

    My experience (importantly, WITHOUT sedation) was horrendous. It was painful and traumatic, but the whole thing was worsened by the most unsympathetic doctor imaginable. He ignored me saying I was going to be sick repeatedly and then I was, in my mouth (I think this was probably the nitrous gas), and he ignored EIGHT (or more) requests to stop. Nitrous gas doesn't aleviate the pain, it just makes the experience more wierd and trippy, which is not at all what you want, as the whole thing was cold, clinical and horrible enough in the first place.

    He didn't even for a second mask his annoyance at my discomfort, and made me feel 1000 times worse by saying things like "I'm being patient with you, you need to let me do this and stop complaining", and "I'm not even in your small intestine yet and that's going to be worse", which obviously made me feel like I was in a nightmare (enhanced by the nitrous).

    DO NOT go through this without sedation. If it seems I'm being dramatic, I'm not trying to be, I just wish someone had told me what this would be like more honestly and forced me to arrange 24 hour company so I could have sedation (something I could have done, had I realised what I was in for).

    I will be making a complaint about the Dr, even afterwards when I explained that his manner made it worse, he immediately became defensive and said "well, you signed a disclaimer so I didn't do anything wrong" (or words to that effect). I clocked him when I arrived and remeber thinking "I hope that kid isn't the one who's going me today" and of course he was. Awful.

    Thankfully it didn't last long although it seemed to at the time, and it was all clear.

    • Posted

      wow having mine tomorrow ,no sedation as I have to drive myself to and fro and no one to accompany me for 24 hrs..!! this has freaked me out.what to do now ?


  • Posted

    Thank you for your very honest and detailed account of the ordeal, that eased my anxiety abit I cant eat from 1pm today,colonoscopy on 30th.... been up all night with worry,I was even contemplating canceling it,but  now syked myself, I dont want to be sedated though because I am driving myself to and from the clinic,
  • Posted

    I could have written this post! Had my colonoscopy on Christmas eve and like you was terrified after all I had read about it, made worse by having had a particularly painful ct scope done weeks before. Worse bit was the Klean Prep, that stuff is vile😐 The nursing staff and doctor I saw were absolutely superb. I had sedation and painkillers and can honestly say I felt very little. I remember watching the screen and giggling when they took biopsies. I was in for around 40 mins but it felt more like 10. Was monitored for an hour then my partner arrived to drive me home. I had some lunch then fell asleep for a couple of hours, then back to normal with no after effects at all. I would havr no worries whatsoever about having one done again. ☺
  • Posted

    I would love to say i had a good experience but unfortunately it was far from.

    I have suffered from really bad pelvic and stomach pain for 3 years, i have had tests for endometriosis and all clear, so this was the next step.

    The prep was fine, no where near half as bad as I expected although I struggled to drink the laxitive even mixed with flavoured water and juice. I got around 5 hours sleep and ate lots of jelly.

    I recommend chilling it and keep the water in the fridge before you make the drink, have lots of jelly ready and soft/fizzy drinks you like. I did drink orange lucozade and mango juice which seemed ok as no one said anything.

    The nurses were lovely and understood i was nervous. I had a needle inserted into my arm for the painkillers and sedative.

    I have to say i take cocodamol, tremadol and another strong pain killer daily which may be why the pain killer they gave me did not work. I wasn't lucky enough to be topped up and unfortunately was aware of the whole thing. I felt like i was in there forever but was only between 5-10mins as i could not bare the pain. I was screaming and crying from the camera and they only got to 40cm. They were unsure why i was in so much pain, maybe my body just reacted differently.

    The next day i went to work and could not stomach food for over 24hours, when i tried to eat i had really bad pain. I recommend to listen to the doctor and take the next day of work! Due to being tired and no energy. Although i had a final assessment at work i could not miss

    I now have to go back and be put to sleep for it! Please be aware guys i was also in a&e 3 days before and given morphie for the pain i was in. So i most likely had a really bad experience due to the amount of pain and lack of sleep.

    I could not fault the nurses or doctors though, they really tried to calm me down as i started to have panic attacks.

    Hopefully being put to sleep will work better for me and i will find out what is wrong.

  • Posted

    I've posted the same on another thread on this site but I thought I would post again on this thread as I only came across this after the event.  Also I think it is useful to have as many different accounts as possible as everyone's medical history varies.

    I've been reading this and other threads and forums with great interest and curiousity over the course of the past week as I had my colonoscopy today and I was really very scared about the whole thing.  The general consensus on these threads seems to be that the prep was tiresome and unpleasant and the actual colonoscopy was a doddle.  However, there were some stories that would say otherwise.  I have come to the conclusion that having a colonoscopy is a bit like childbirth.  People will tell you what it is like and what their experiences are, but ultimately you will never really know until you have it done yourself.  

    However,  I can now impart my own personal experience, and I will start off by saying that the procedure itself was less uncomfortable than having a smear, and infinitely better than having dental treatment.  However, I do generally have a healthy bowel and my colonoscopy was scheduled as a result of possible 'rrhoids and because I have a history of bowel cancer in the family.  So there was unlikely to be any complications as a result of inflammation or scarring or polyps etc...

    I was so anxious and so worried about it - I really was and I thought about cancelling right up to the last second when the canula was inserted.  It honestly honestly is nowhere near as bad as you think it is going to be.  I did have sedation but I did'nt really notice it, I felt a bit woozy afterwards but not like I would not be able to drive properly, although I didn't. I'm not sure my experience would have been any different without the sedation. 

    As for the prep.  My instructions were to follow  low fibre diet 2 days before.  I ate lots of white bread and butter, cheese, potato and eggs.  I drank more water than usual and black tea.  The following day I was advised to have breakfast in the morning (low fibre) and then clear fluids for the rest of the day.   I wasn't hungry at all in the morning and so didn't end up having breakfast, I just drank plenty of water and black tea instead.  I had to take my first Picolax sachet at 12.30pm and the second one at 4.30pm.  Again I was really not looking forward to this at all.  The first sachet fizzed but did not get hot.  It tasted lemony and it was ok to drink.  I drank it through a straw as some people have said it is more palatable that way.  

    First sign of any action was at 2.55pm.  A bit of diarrhoea and runny water.  I was on the loo a matter of minutes.  During that hour, I went maybe 3 or 4 times - each time for a matter of minutes and I was running pretty much clear water.  After that I was going maybe every 20 minutes or so and clear water - it was like going to the loo as normal.  At 4.30 I took the second sachet - this time it fizzed and did get warm but not hot.  I was expecting a deluge after this, as again forums say it kicked in after the second sachet.  In my experience it just carried on as before a quick trip every 15-20 minutes or so  - although by this stage I was burning so applied sudocreme.  I went reasonably regularly until about 7pm by which time the whole thing was pretty much over.  I didn't go again until around 9pm and then again before bed at around 11pm. In the meantime I just carried on as normal - made the kids tea - did housework, read the paper, watched TV. I woke up at about 6.30 am with a bit of cramping and think I had a bit more diarrhoeay type expulsion - this was actually the longest time I spent on the loo.  

    The whole experience was actually a bit of a non-event compared to stories that I have read, and I was really worried my bowel hadn't cleared, but everything was fine.  The 24 hour fasting again was less of an issue than I thought it was going to be - never have I gone that long without eating and I thought I would be starving - but it was fine.  I sucked a few sweets along the way and all was well.  So all in all my experience was very good - I think I was probably one of the lucky ones in terms of bowel prep, but I would concur with a lot of other people that say the colonoscopy itself is absolutely fine and I now would not fret at all about having it done again. as possible as it seems the process and everyone's medical condition and history is different and experiences will obvs vary according to what state your bowel is in!  I hope this helps someone and if nothing else reassures that in all likelihood the actual procedure is not a big deal.


  • Posted

    Hello everyone.

    I just had my Colonoscopy.

    Being life time smoker and 60 now, i was asked for stool test.

    They found some blood in 3 samples I sent them.

    They asked me to repeat the test second samples had no blood.

    They asked me to sent another batch of 3 samples.

    I normally has no pain or visible blood in stool.

    Then they invited me for a colonoscopy.

    First appointment was to discuss the issue and they explained me the whole procedure.

    They sent me regular stuff for preparation.

    I followed it to thoroughly.

    Don't have any difficulty the strict diet.

    Actually I watched few verious on you tube about all this. This really helped me to understand the whole procedure, from the bowl prep to the actual Colonoscopy.

    I opted to go without sedation.

    On the scale of 1 to 10 for the pain, 1 being painless amd 10 being highly painful , I will say may be 3.

    Uncomfortable, yes I will say may be 4 on the same scale.

    I was nervous or stressed at all.

    Doctor told me that I have well prepared bowl.

    They remove 2 time polyps. 2 and 4 mm.

    I was done in an hour and half, from arriving to the discharge.

    I think my choice for no sedation was good.

    I even enjoyed watching this on the screen. May be this also helped me in not feeling pain.

    Please do not take my experience as a medical advice.

    Every individual is different.

    I am sure they will ask me to go through this again in few years time.

    If I have no other health issues at that time, I will again go for no sedation.

    Only thing I will say to those who will go through colonoscopy, that it is not as frightening as it looks.

    No need is stress or being fearful.

    It not more then a dentist appointment.

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