Colonoscopy without sedation

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Hi everyone, I’m writing this to reassure anyone that may be going for a colonoscopy and is wondering what the the prep is like, how does it feel and what to expect.

I went to the GP with changed bowel habits and some blood in my stool, she referred me down the two week cancer route, so I was scheduled for a colonoscopy within a fortnight after my initial consultation as I had similar symptoms as a person with bowel cancer would have.  Now I’m a 32 year old female so it’s unusual for someone of my age to have bowel cancer as a rule of thumb it usually affects older people (not always the case but you may take some comfort in that!), even knowing that I was still petrified why they had sent me down this quick cancer route - did they know something I didn’t, I was really worried about it to a point I nearly cancelled the whole thing - ignorance is bliss and all that!

I didn’t cancel, I got given my prescription for the MoviPrep collected it and arranged the time off with Work.  Now my appointment was at 2pm, so the day before I ate as normal, avoided red meat, and kind of stuck to the guide they gave me.  I was meant to stop eating at 1pm the day before and I was literally cramming a chicken baguette into my mouth at the last minute.  I got home around 5ish and began my prep at 7pm, I had a split dose, one litre the night before and one in the morning.  Now I’ve heard real horror stories about MoviPrep, and let me tell you I didn’t experience any.  The taste really isn’t that bad, it’s a bit like salty lemon, I wouldn’t go buy it from a shop if I had the choice, but it’s really not that bad, I just chugged a glass of it every 15 mins until the litre was gone.  Now then even after 3 hours I only had one bowel movement and that was it.  I had a bit of stomach cramp (it does make you bloated!) and I went to bed with the idea in my head to call and cancel in the morning if the second lot of prep didn’t work!  The bonus with MoviPrep is it fills you up so you’re not hungry either, I went to bed woke up at 6 and began my second litre, now during the second litre is when movement began to happen.  For me I found it easier to just sit on the toilet for a solid hour, I didn’t get any stinging as some people do, but by the end when you know the MoviPrep has done it’s job it is literally like having a wee through the other end where nothing but clear liquid comes out.  Now I was concerned because I didn’t get rid of that much and still  convinced it hadn’t worked, but reset assured it had worked and I just didn’t have a lot in my bowel in the first place! 

The moviprep finished about 8:30am then I started to get hungry around 9:30am.  By then everything is out and you’re just waiting, I wasn’t allowed water after midday so I kept my stomach full by drinking plenty of water!  On a side note prior to no liquids and during the time of no food you can have clear liquids, so I treat myself to a glass of white wine (not red it’ll stain your bowel and may be mistaken for blood) the night before. So all in all the prep wasn’t bad.

I arrived at hospital for my appointment, waited 30 mins saw the nurse who explained everything checked my vitals that I’d had my prep, no food or water etc. I then get handed these shorts with a opening in the back, get changed into them, put my pants back over the top and wait again, I reckon by 3pm the doctor came out, introduced himself, went through the consent and asked if I wanted sedation (I didn’t) and said when you’re ready come in. 

So I went in, took my pants off, they keep everything under your bed, there’s a monitor so you can watch and nurses there checking your vitals etc.  So they hand me Entonox (gas and air) and insist you take 5 breaths before starting so you know how to use it, after 5 I was already light headed.  So this is where it begins, you can feel it; it’s uncomfortable and rightly so as it’s not a daily occurrence but it was not painful, at some points especially the corners you can feel it, he asked if I could lie on my back at some point and my front to make the camera round into smaller corners, and the sensation I imagine (I don’t have kids) would be what a baby kicking would feel like.  In total it lasted 30 mins, I was watching and chatting to the nurses during it, I think I hit up the Entonox 3 more times (singular times) but that was it and I probably could have done without it.  So rest assured it is not that bad at all, now everyone’s pain threshold is different and all bowels are different so it may be more difficult to navigate through other ones.  But if you’re scared about it and in debate over sedation then I hope this eases your mind a bit!  I think the Entonox would be sufficient enough for me it was anyway.  So we’re at the end, during he says the moviprep worked really well, had a clean bowel and there was no anomalies, they didn’t find anything what so ever!  He explained that he’s taken routine biopsies as he may expect to find a minimal trace of IBS but that’s it, and that can be remedied with diet.

Afterwards they wheeled me out into the recovery ward, I get dressed straight away, go sit down to a glass of water and cheese and crackers (the best cheese and crackers I’ve ever had after 28 hours not eating!).  They do say if your bowel is full of air release it as it’ll cause discomfort later on, now I know during the procedure he was pumping air in for a better view so i was expecting some, but nothing.  I felt 100% fine just hungry and thirsty.  After 30 mins the nurse went through my report, explained a few things, asked how I felt, checked my vitals and I was free to go.  You can drive after, I went home had a pizza, drinks and went to bed.  Woke up fine the next morning and went back to work.  I had no discomfort afterwards, I wasn’t in any pain it was like it never happened.

As I said everyone is different, but I read so many horror stories before mine which probably didn’t help prior to having mine, but if you’re trying to scour the internet for information as I was I hope this helps! Any questions just ask! 

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  • Posted

    I had one 2 and a half weeks ago the worst part is the prep just going to the bathroom alot I had to take 4 durcolax and also do the Mirlax and Gatorade you have to have 64 oz. but here they only have 32 oz. so I got 2 of those and you can also use Powerade as well it all works make sure your cleaned out it either has too be yellow or clear that is what they told me and I even had a nurse check it and I was ready to go. The only side effect after it was done was the straggering and the room spinning around it only last a couple of days and then I was fine I didn't have any bleeding which was good this is my experience on that.

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  • Posted

    Thanks for the info Carolanne - I just got my moviprep pack through today - have my colonoscopy early next month in the afternoon (not an urgent referral) - and reading what you wrote made me feel a lot less worried and made me laugh too! What a gem! I am going to go the entinox way too -I managed an endoscopy with the throat spray and I've heard endoscopy is more uncomfortable than colonoscopy. Not what you would want to do on a normal afternoon - but necessary when you have back door problems eek

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    • Posted

      Ahh no problem 😆

      Glad it’s eased your mind a tad, I know how anxious I was prior to mine! 

      Good luck with yours, I’m sure you’ll be fine!

      I’ve also heard that about having an endoscopy, during my recovery period I met a lady who had also just had a colonoscopy and previously had an endoscopy.  She said she didn’t have sedation during the endoscopy and the colonoscopy wasn’t half as bad! 

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  • Posted

    Hi I had one today without sedation, no gas and air, it was all fine. I found it quite interesting watching the screen & them taking biopsies etc is completely painless. The worst part really was drinking the moviprep laxative, it's like very artificially sweet thick dioralyte, it's pretty gross by the 4th pint. Then of course it all needs to be evacuated from your bowels which is quite a funny process. I was anticipating those horrible straining stomach cramps like when you're ill with diarrhoea but it was OK.

    Then the colonoscopy itself I would not describe as painful at all, just a high level of discomfort at the start and a couple of times throughout. Basically feeling bloated and like you need a massive fart, with mild pain from your bumhole as you fail to keep relaxed and grip the scope with it!


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  • Posted

    Hi Carolanne,

    I'm in the United States, but thank you so much for sharing your story and also, all the details.  Huge help!


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