endoscopy not what I expected

Posted , 9 users are following.

I wanted to reply to an earlier post on the experience of uppergastro endoscopy but couldn't.  I hate to add to the negative experiences but I was really shocked by what a barbaric procedure this is.

Doc and nurse where I had the procedure were very kind and empathetic. Having imagined a very thin wire with a tiny camera the sized of a pea being reasonably smoothly guided down my anesthatized throat I was shocked at the reality of what transpired.  As was mentioned in a previous discussion it's more like a hosepipe than a wire and it felt like someone was trying to shove an iron cage down my throat.

They anesthetized my throat and gave me a sedative which I requested.  I have been very panicky before at the thought of dental treatment but actually was fairly calm today before it as I didn't expect more than mild discomfort and would describe my fear feelings as no more than mild apprehension.  That changed fairly fast once they got started!

I didn't feel like I couldn't breathe.  But I most definitely could not swallow and was gagging like crazy.  They kept saying almost there just swallow and although I tried I couldn't...literally physically couldn't as the camera stuck in my throat.  It felt like a full on physical assault on my body. I don't blame the doctor or nurse they did everything they could to be kind but in the end they are trying to shove a lump of metal with a hose attached down your throat.  I could not swallow it and the idea they would just shove it down anyway is horrendous and barbaric.  

I started to cry...tears just started flowing....it is a very primitve reaction.  The nurse and doctor were distressed too by my state so they stopped and gave me a break and said let's try again in a minute.   I cooperated as I didn't want to 'give up' so soon.  But second time just as bad and the doctor in her compassion stopped the procedure and said lets try some other methods to test for heliobacter, GERD and causes of my reflux/mild pains first.

Thank god for her compassion and humanity because I can't imagine what would have happened if they forced the thing into me.    This was like a form of torture.  I will have to be seriously seriously at high risk of cancer before I would ever agree to such a procedure again and only then under general anasthetic.  

Doctor told me in advance that some people have very little problem and others have a very hard time.  She said it would not be pleasant but still unpleasant is a big understatement to the pain and trauma I felt in my throat and still do after it although it is wearing off and I'm sure will be fine in a day or so.

I realise this is not what people want to read when they are searching for knowledge and comfort about this procedure but surely such a potentially (as it is for many although not all) traumatic and invasive procedure should only be a last resort and under GA....not a routine diagnostic test for heartburn or digestive discomfort.  

The doctor then ordered a series of blood tests for me to check for heliobacter and whatever else I might have.   

If I had only known I would have insisted on other ways to check first.  

Sorry to be the bearer of bad tidings but this is the reality of my experience today and not a word of exaggeration.   I would much rather say it was a breeze but it isn't and it's unfair to mislead people as to the extent of what's involved.

Only silver lining to the cloud would be I will never again fear the dentist so much as it's a walk in the park compared to endoscopy in my experience!

I have very strong gag reflex so I know it's part of the problem. But still shoving something down someone's throat isn't the same as shoving something up either of the orifices at the other end and requires a great deal of sensitivity and preparation for the emotional reaction of the patient.  Not holding them down like animals as I read about in another discussion.  

Even when I take my dog to the vet I'm allowed to hold him (well must hold him) but I'm a human being and any procedure that requires I need to be held down for I'd rather be out cold for thank you very much!

0 likes, 22 replies

22 Replies

  • Posted

    I am not sure how helpful it is to post quite such a descriptive post. I am due a endoscopy on Friday and I am apprehensive but I understand that it is the best way to get a look inside and see what's going on. I will not be having sedation as I want a faster recovery and I respect that your opinion but it's probably just going to scare people who have to have this procedure.

    • Posted

      I am inclined to agree with you Pumpkin1510. I didn't even have the throat numbing and found it it. Yes it was uncomfortable but only for a short time. You just need to take deep slow breaths and avoid tending muscles. Try to dream about Holidays or similar.

    • Posted

      Meant found it ok.
    • Posted

      Yeah I am not sure if I will have the throats spray either still on the fence but I do wonder if sedation can make certain people have a harder time swallowing. I don't know as I have not had mine yet. Not relishing it but I have a 10am appointment so just trying to think that by 11am I should hopefully be all done.

    • Posted

      yes, I'm aware it's scary but it's not my opinion on whether you should have it or not....you should and I wouldn't question that....and it is the most precise way to evaluate your insides....but it's my experience unfortunately and I was rather shocked.

      some people are ok with it.  others are not as my doctor warned me.  just be prepared.   I was not very apprehensive beforehand but I wonder if this procedure is over recommended by doctors for minor gastric problems. there are other ways to do it which are more comfortable for the patient.  especially those with strong gag reflex or who are sensitive.

      I am sorry if it doesn't help you.  I'm sure it doesn't much but it's important to raise awareness about the reality of the experience for such a procedure for quite a few people (see other threads for fairly graphic descriptions also).  that was my intention in posting this.   and also to question the value of it for what may be relatively mild gastric issues.  it should not be used to rule out or screen but rather to confirm what is already suspected by other tests.

      I hope you will be in the uncomfortable but ok with it category and again apologies for raising anxiety but it really shocked me and that as I say is not an 'opinion' it is a real experience of this.  

      good luck in any case and hopefully you can offer more comfort to others who are told they need to have one of these.  

      I guess noone knows which category they will fall into until they have it and see their reaction.

      if it's any comfort to you my doctor and nurse were really very sympathetic and when it got too much for me she stopped the procedure entirely....so the communication with the doctor is very important too.  they can help a lot with their bedside manner.


    • Posted

      I am not sure, I mean you could have only minor symptoms but have a serious life threatening problem and my comment was only meant to say that if someone reads this and decides not to go ahead it could be a very big mistake. There are barium X- rays which could indicate a blockage or mass and stool and blood samples for h pylori but I don't think they are as accurate as a stomach biopsy. I think it's unfortunate that you had so much trouble and hopefully you have a sound diagnosis now plus I am sure you are not the only one who struggled - fingers crossed I willl find it easier but I think people read forums for all different reasons and a horror story can start panic.

    • Posted

      I take your point...it can be a very useful procedure for detailed images and perhaps mean the difference between cancer being caught in an early stage rather than a late incurable stage and my intention writing above as I said is not to deter people from having it but to only question in non-life threatening cases the genuine necessity of having it and to consider alternative testing for diagnosis and only proceed with further testing if treatment doesn't resolve the issue. as far as I know h pylori can be diagnosed via a blood test which I had after the scope this morning so it's not necessary only for that.  

      My father died of cancer of the oesophagus 10 years ago and he had a gastroscopy which I remember him describing as uncomfortable....the thing is he'd already been diagnosed with the cancer via blood tests and xrays by that stage so I guess (I don't know) that the reason they did the gastroscopy was to get a better picture of the tumour, it's location etc.   In my case my symptoms have so far been diagnosed as reflux which is exactly what they feel like and diet and medication has made me feel better for sure.  my doctor, who is great and whose opinion I trust, ordered the endoscopy as I've been complaining for a while about recurring symptoms which were worse a few months ago to be honest but have got better (I'm taking proton pump inhibitors which have made me feel better and continue to take them) and I even wondered if I needed a gastroscopy but decided to go ahead anyway as I had the appointment and it was covered by my health insurance.

      I have a lot of tension around the neck and shoulders due to neck injury and stress in general and the doctor mentioned something about spasm in my neck so that didn't help me I'm sure.  It was definitely not meant to be in my case!!

      I feel bad making you more apprehensive though.  I hope Lily, the retired nurse, who responds below, can make you feel better about it all - she really has a great perspective on it all as you can read.

      I genuinely wish the best for you on Friday.  I'm sure you will be ok. Seems majority are uncomfortable with it and minority struggle as you say so odds are good you're one of the majoritysmile

      let us know how it goes......balance the picture a bit for others I hope. 

    • Edited

      You have my sympathy. I have had quite a lot of endoscopies in the past, all with sedation and good experience with those. Once the sedation had been injected into the vein I didn't remember a thing about it until I woke up in another room.

      However, this week I had yet another endoscopy with sedation. For all the good the sedation did I might have just as well had water put in.

      It was a ghastly experience and I never want to go through that again. I wasnt sleepy at all. I heaved and retched and my throat hurt. I tried to grab hold of the thing and pull it out, but the nurse got hold of my hand. I couldnt even speak. After what seemed an eternity, it was taken out and I cried like a baby.

      Before I left the unit a nurse said I expect you feel a bit sleepy now. Thinking about this after at home, I thought - I want to feel sleepy while it is being done, not after !!

      In my notes given to me I was only given 1mg of Midazolam and when I googled it, the initial dose should be 2.5 mg.

      I have put in a complaint.

      Sorry to bend your ear. Do you know what sedative they gave you ?

  • Posted

    Hello Mary,

    I'm so sorry you had a bad time.

    As a former nurse, I'd like to stress to any nervous people reading this in the run-up to their own gastroscopy that this is a very rare occurrence. Most people who have sedation come out of the experience with no memory of it whatever, and many people are able to tolerate passage of a gastroscope quite comfortably without any sedation.

    However, it has to be admitted that we're all different and a very few people do have problems with the procedure. I was one of them, and I believe I'm the person you refer to in the reference to "holding them down like animals".

    You were actually very fortunate in that the doctor took a compassionate approach and stopped the procedure, rather than continuing on the assumption you would remember nothing when the sedation wore off. When this happens, it isn't done out of cruelty but rather out of a genuine desire to help the patient by completing the procedure. I'm sure this was true in my case, where panic on the part of the medical staff over their previous negligence probably played a part as well. (Mine was the unusual case you probably read: my large spiky denture was lodged in my throat for three weeks because the hospital refused to believe me and had repeatedly sent me away, before finally agreeing to do a gastroscopy to "reassure" me it wasn't there.)

    I perfectly understand your feelings, but gastroscopy is usually the first test done when a patient goes to a doctor with any gastric symptoms, however mild, so it wasn't really overkill. General anaesthesia, though very safe these days, nonetheless carries a minute risk, so it's very unusual for it to be used for endoscopy. I don't know what the situation is in the UK (where I suspect you're based) but where I live we can insist on a GA provided we pay the extra cost. After my own experience, this is certainly what I'd do if I ever had to have the procedure again.

    I have to confess I've always had a fear of the procedure myself, having assisted professionally at a few of them. In the case described above, I realised I had no option and couldn't insist on a GA either. I was severely dehydrated, had lost 15lb and was running a fever due to infection in the wound in my throat, so it was a bit of a life-and-death situation. However, I have always avoided this investigation in the past. I've had clear symptoms of oesophageal reflux for the past 40 years but have learned to manage them with lifestyle changes, like identifying which foods trigger attacks, sleeping with the head of my mattress slightly raised, not wearing tight trousers etc. Perhaps this is something you could consider.

    Don't worry about the soreness in your throat. This is quite normal after gastroscopy and will wear off after a few days.

    I predict there will now be a number of posts from people telling you you're an absolute baby, there's nothing to it and it was all your own fault for not relaxing. Please don't be upset by this natural reaction. Once again, we're all different. I actually have a high pain threshold and am not nervous about medical or dental procedures. Because of a condition that causes calcification in my teeth and blocks local anaesthesia, I once went through a root canal procedure where the local didn't work at all on two of the canals. Not something I'd want to repeat, but I'd still rather do that again than go through another gastroscopy!

    I understand your feelings of violation, but I'm sure you'll soon be able to put this unpleasant memory behind you and move on, as I did. I'm glad your doctor is prepared to do alternative tests, which might well turn up the cause of your symptoms. If this isn't the case, try and identify and avoid what it is that's causing the indigestion. That seems to have worked for me, as my symptoms are still under control 40 years on, without medication, and only the occasional relapse which is always due to dietary indiscretions!

    I hope you'll soon be feeling better.

    • Posted

      Dear Lily,  

      Thanks for your kind reply.  Yes, I did read about your 'denture' experience on another thread today.....fortunately I guess I read it after I had the gastroscopy and not before.  Thanks for reassuring people that mostly it is ok.  As a nurse you are professional and know what you're talking about and yet as a 'patient' you can clearly empathize with me so it's a great reply to my post which I agree has a touch of horror to it but that's the reality of it for some people. The doctors and nurses are of course kind and well-intentioned and want to help and not be cruel.  I felt it was too invasive for me to tolerate but I am quite sensitve about being touched and I need a lot of time to relax and let go which is probably not the 'norm' for many but fact is, it is for some.  At the same time I don't apologize for how I felt and nor should others if they struggle with it.  As you know.

      I am fine now apart from the sore throat.  Obviously I didn't get a diagnosis since we had to abort the procedure but I'm pretty sure it's just reflux and maybe H pylori...I'll have to wait for the results of the blood test.  I'm feeling much better than a few months ago anyway and as you advise diet, clothing, exercise, healthier lifestyle, stress reduction all go a long way towards improving things. I'm sure I will always be susceptible to the occasional relapse due to dietary indiscretion wink but gone are the days when I will bombard my system with fatty, spicy or junk foods  and heavy meals.  

      Re feelings of violation I didn't feel badly treated or disrespected in any way just the procedure itself was quite invasive. The nurse and doctor were very sympathetic to my adverse reaction (could well be psychological and emotional too...especially it brought back memories of my poor dad and what he suffered) and couldn't have been kinder.  'Invasive' is more the word I would use....like I was being pried open.....but I'm resistant so maybe for me I'd need to be strongly sedated or knocked out completely if I thought I have to have this done seriously at any stage.

      For now....I will put it behind me.  Thanks again for reassuring others for majority it's not more than uncomfortable.  My intention was not to frighten but not to hide the reality of it for some people either from a procedural point of view.  And I do still wonder and have read articles from medical journals to this affect if it is overused as diagnostic tool for GERD.  According to the American College of Physicians it is.  

      Thanks for your kind wishes and I am feeling better...apart from the sore throat!

  • Posted

    I've posted several times on this thread to say I was fine with no sedation as have many others so won't repeat.

    I did not think the throat spray was optional and am amazed that dentures are ever left in situ. I was given a leaflet berore being wheeled in. Very clear and emphasised that dentures MUST be rmoved.

    • Posted

      Just to clarify, Betty. I didn't swallow my denture as a result of the gastroscopy, it was the other way round. I swallowed it while eating dinner one night. No one believed me, as it had no metal parts so didn't show up on X-ray. I was thrown out of several hospitals as a time-waster over the next three weeks. When a friend finally took me back, in very poor condition, to one of the hospitals that had already thrown me out twice and insisted something be done, they grudgingly agreed to do a gastroscopy. They said this was to reassure me I hadn't swallowed anything and it was all in my imagination. Once they got as far as the entrance to my oesophagus and realised I'd been right all along, they flew into a bit of a panic!

    • Posted

      I wasn't told about the throat spray being optional in advance. In fact I was just about to be given it when a nurse just happened to mention that it wasn't essential. I opted out straight away.

    • Posted

      Well I suppose all's well that ends well. Why would they think anyone would make up such a thing? And why didn't anyone realise that lots of dentures are metal free so x-ray pointless? Mine certainly are.

      Thanks for explaining

    • Posted

      Betty, I worked as a staff nurse on Casualty at a central London hospital in 1969/70. We were told never to believe elderly people who came in claiming to have swallowed their dentures. The rationale was that all old people are forgetful, they would have got their dentures late in life, wouldn't get on very well with them, so would constantly take them out and leave them around the house.

      One day, I was told to send away a 70-something man who said he'd swallowed his two-incisor upper denture which he'd had since his teens. I took issue with the doctor. I already had my own one-incisor upper denture by then (accident at school at age 12) and knew this was an entirely different case from an elderly person getting a full set for the first time in their 60s. When you have a denture - especially a front one - from an early age it becomes a part of your personality and you would never take it out, except for twice-daily cleaning. I said (prophetically as it turned out!) that if I said I'd swallowed mine in old age I'd be telling the truth. The young doctor said nah - by the time you get to age 70 you won't know what you're doing. Well, fast-forward 45 years and that's exactly what happened. At three different hospitals too - I'd visited two others as well as multiple visits to the one where they finally acted. I hope that poor man fared better than me.

      Oh and this isn't just a British problem. My episode happened in Belgium. In a way I'm glad my somewhat traumatic endoscopy was performed by two young female medical students. Maybe they'll learn from the experience and stop propagating this potentially deadly one-size-fits-all thinking.

    • Posted

      I trained as an infants teacher in the early fifties and our first assignment was to take a census of bust measurements of the entire college. This was to impress  upon us the importannce we should always attach to individual differences and, two for the price of one, the normal curve. ( No pun intended)

      Sadly I inherited my father's teeth. I'd have been better off with mum's; she still had most at 93. Still, let's look on the bright side; I have had dentures for fifty years so maybe I'm safe!

    • Posted

      i had to remove my denture and the throat spray wasnt optional, when i had my endoscopy a few monthes ago, i had mine first to rule out stomach/throat cancer, i had no issue with my test, was anxious did gag a few times and wretched on withdrawel, but in all honesty i would rather have this test again rather than the barium meal swallow that i had later, the start trying to swallow the powder was worse than the insertion of the endocope, but my humour with tears running down my face amused the staff and got me through, i myself have a very strong gag reflex even just brushing my teeth, i do think maybe reading up on something like this can make anxious people worse or assure them.
    • Posted

      I agree. I had mine last Friday and to be honest I went to the appointment a little naive and possibly over confident. I thought it would be a complete breeze, it was difficult - my gag and wretching went into overdrive but it is a very short procedure and they managed to complete it. They found a tiny ulcer and took biopsies. Unfortunately I have to have a repeat test done in 6-8 weeks to check the ulcer is healing which I was disappointed about but it is still the fasted way to check what she going on.

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