Thursday, 16 May 2013

The Dreaded Colonoscopy

The final test I had to have done was a colonoscopy. My nemesis. I have had one of these before as well as a smaller version called a flexi-sigmoidoscopy. For those that don't know it involves having a thin tube with a camera and light on the end stuck up your bum and through your large and maybe your small bowel to get a real good look. They often like to take pictures and biopsies whilst they are having a nose around. Most of these types of tests, aren't pleasant but aren't awful. However, my last one was truly horrific, I was in a huge amount of unexpected pain and was left quite traumatised by it all really. The feeling of lying on a bed completely out of control was truly awful and I was not prepared to put myself through that again. Luckily my consultant understood that I really was putting my foot down here and agreed to allow me to have it done under Propofol, which is a light general anaesthetic meaning I should be asleep. Propofol is also what killed Michael Jackson - which is always great to know before you are put under!

The first stage is the dreaded drink. So that they can get a proper look of your bowel, it has to be completely clear. This involves drinking two litres of laxative fluid and not being allowed to eat for 24 hours. So at 7:30am I had my final meal of toast with apricot jam... exciting I know. Immediately I was starving and continued to only think about food for the next few hours. Those that know me know that I already love my food, but the moment someone says you can't eat anything, suddenly all you want to do is eat. Luckily I did have a trip out the house with Dad taking me to hospital to have my pre-op assessment. Here they swab your throat and nose, height and weigh you and ask you a million questions about your health and lifestyle. It was at this appointment that I found out some VERY EXCITING NEWS. I am 5ft3!! I have always thought I was 5ft2, and at my small size, every inch counts. Although, I much prefer 5ft2 than 5ft3 as I am not a fan of the number 3... but silver lining is now I can technically weigh more to be have a healthy BMI and thus eat more!

I returned home to my first jug of goodness. I read one man describe the taste as a mixture of goats spit and urinal cleaner, how he knows what either taste like I don't know, but I have to say I agree with him in that it tastes pretty vile. I chilled the liquid in the fridge for a few hours before downing the litre, glass by glass over the course of the hour. It is very slimy and thick with a hint of lemon but with a very salty after taste. I found it coated my teeth and tongue and so took to glugging down Lucozade to get rid of the taste. Below is a picture of my first jug, innocent looking I know but looks can be deceiving.

After finishing the litre I have to say food was the last thing on my mind as I settled down in front of the TV waiting for the stuff to do its magic. Previously its only taken about an hour before the gurgling started but three hours later there was still nothing. At this point I did have a bit of a panic, wondering when on earth this was going to take effect, but let me tell you I did not need to worry. An 'explosive' 40 minutes later I emerged from the bathroom feeling about two stone lighter and ten years older. Unfortunately I was also due my second litre of the stuff. This lot was much harder to get down and by this point I was drained, exhausted and a bit teary. At the end of it all I treated myself and my poor tummy to a warm bath and a glass of apple juice. 

Me after my final drink.

I woke up bright and early the following day for the lovely colonoscopy. I had to be at the hospital at 7:30am, which is frankly ridiculous but there I was in my sexy gown ready to go. See below for evidence of the gorgeous look.

Please do excuse the Mount Vesuvius that had decided to erupt on my nose on that particular day. I am hardly looking my best!
Next came the most exciting part of the day, my anti-blood-clotting-socks! They were insanely hard to get on, and they had a little gap for your toes at the end, which made me laugh. They were also incredibly tight, subsequently pushing all my leg fat to my knees, as if they needed any more. My day was made even better when the nurse explained I could take them home! Lucky girl!

I met my anaesthetist, nurse and surgeon before being taken down to the theatre. I expected a dramatic send off, with me being wheeled away in a hospital bed or at least a wheel chair. But no, I walked there myself, gown flapping by my ankles (one size fits all is not great when you are a midget). I did have a bit of a cry as I suddenly turned in to a 3 year old and became terrified of the pain I might be in. Flashbacks of the previous test sprung to mind, and I was very worried I wouldn't be asleep enough or would wake up half way through. 
I got to the anaesthetists room where the loveliest anaesthetic nurse took care of me. She apologised for having to undo my gown but when you have something like Crohn's your modesty is pretty much out the window from day one. It took a few attempts to get the needle in my arm, at this point I had to be reminded to breathe and try not to hyperventilate. The last thing I remember is having my oxygen mask adjusted, bum to the world and staring up the nose of one my anaesthetists.

The next thing I remember is waking up to the beaming smile of a male nurse, who I went on to tell all about my dream. I was at a country and western concert, if you must know. Thankfully I do not remember a single thing about the 20 minute procedure. The next few hours are also pretty patchy. I was high as a kite. I remember chatting away to my mum and the surgeon being astonished by how awake I was. I apparently spent a lot of time starring at the needle in my hand and repeated myself a lot. I felt drunk. The surgeon explained that I woke up a few times during the procedure and chatted to him, but I have no memory of this so god knows what I said. He told me he has written it all down and it would be on the net for all to see. Brilliant! I like to think what happens in the operating theatre, stays in the operating theatre. He also described his findings, a thickened and scarred area where my small and large bowel meet, a very inflamed and ulcerated area and a 'horrific bottom'. I do hope he meant my insides and not its appearance.
The stomach cramps soon started as all the air from the procedure worked its way past the poorly bits, and then things became less funny. I spent hours in a lot of pain and slept for a very long while after. Surprisingly I wasn't hungry at all. Although, of course, that did not last long!

Me high as a kite after the procedure. I don't remember this being taken, but Mum says I kept demanding she take photos of me. Apparently I turn in to a right diva when drugged up.

My fascinating hand. They put those wrist bands on both arms. Just in case you lose an arm or something.

The heart rate monitor tab I found over 24hours later. Whoops!

Apologies for the monster post! Thank you all so much for reading!

Lots of love! xxxx


  1. Wow. Really interesting blog. My flatmate has Crohn's (mouth to bum) and its helped to understand what she lives with.

  2. Great well written blog. I have a friend with crohn's Hope you get well soon .

  3. Colon cancer is cancer of the large intestine (colon), the lower part of your digestive system. Rectal cancer is cancer of the last 8 to 10 inches of the colon. Together, they are often referred to as colorectal cancers , and they make up the second-leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States. Only lung cancer claims more lives.

  4. that was a re-assuring post Paul Woddy. Well done Gabrielle im having one on sat have to take the stuff tomorrow :-(

  5. Hi gabi I read ur blog and went back to read this post again as had a colonoscopy today and experienced so much pain that I had to get them to stop. Felt so silly after but really couldnt handle it. Glad to find someone else who says they found it painful too x

    1. Please don't feel silly at all! It can be a horrible experience and you did the right thing to tell them to stop! Hope you are doing okay :) x