First Colonoscopy having lots of anxiety

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I am female 57 and avoided doing a colonoscopy.  My doctor ordered the colon guard test and it came back positive.  Since then I have been anxious.  I was scheduled for a test in the clinic (where my husband went) and sup prep.  The office called and said because of my weight they scheduled the procedure in the hospital and ordered a two day prep of trylite, citrus mag. and dulox pills.  Now I am even more freaked out and can hardly sleep.  My brother died in this same hospital and I can hardly drive past it let alone go in there.  I have insurance but it only will approve this one hospital with 500 co pay.  Otherwise I have to pay much for for out of network.  The colon guard was considered screening the colonoscopy procedure and must have co pay.  It would have been 150 in clinic.  I tried explaining this but the nurse said the doctor will only preform the procedure in hospital and the health network said this doctor was the only one to accept the in network approval.  I was laid of a JR college administration position last month due to budget cutting and am on unemployment.  I have enough money to cover the 500 in hospital copay but out of network would cost more than I can afford.  I am also very upset and don't know if I can swallow the prep because I vomit very easily.  My procedure is scheduled for 10 am this Friday.  Wednesday I start the prep.  My husband has approval from his boss to come home a little early on Thursday to be support while I start the prep and has off work all day Friday.  I am worried about the hospital, the medical staff, the prep and finding cancer.  The positive colon guard has me worried that there is now something there.  I want to cancel this appointment but I know I really can't.  I can not take any anxiety meds I had really bad reaction to them.  I have tried breathing and meditation but I can't concentrate.  I know all this worry is stupid but I am so scared.  Thanks for listening


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  • Posted

    I am in the UK where colonoscopies are performed by the National Health Service which we pay for through our taxes rather than through medical insurance etc but the procedure will be the same.

    I understand your anxiety. I have to have regular colonoscopies at the same hospital where my husband died and it can be hard to walk into the place.

    I hadn't heard of colon guard. I don't know if it is something which is used here but from reading online reports I see it can give a lot of false readings both positive and negative. The only way to know for sure is to have the colonoscopy so that the doctors can do a thorough examination and take biopsies.

    First of all, it really isn't that bad. People have different experiences, some experience some pain other just find it mildly uncomfortable. If you opt to have sedation you may be completely unaware of anything. I don't have sedation as I like to watch what is going on. The procedure is displayed on a huge TV screen. Staying awake and alert enables you to ask the doctor questions as the scope moves around but it isn't compulsory. I think most people opt for sedation and if you are very stressed out it would probably be best. I'm only saying this to reassure that it's do-able without so it can't be that bad.

    As for the prep (or the kind I had called Moviprep), it's a thick drink that's not that pleasant even if it is flavoured with orange or lemon. But you wash it down with plenty of plain water and it's fine. Dashing to the bathroom frequenlty over the following hours is a nuisance and can leave you feeling a bit sore but manageable and an essential part of the prep so the doctor has a clean colon to examine.

    From my own experiences, a flexible sigmoidoscopy - where they only look at the rectum and lower part of the colon up to the first bend takes around ten minutes. A full colonoscopy is about 40 minutes. If you are thought to be at risk of cancer I imagine they are going to do a full examination.

    A nurse will take you through a paperwork beforehand, take a history, explain the procedure and insert a canula if you are opting for sedation. You will then be asked to undress and change into a gown and then you will walk into the theatre where you will be received by the endoscopy team. When you see how high-tech the theatre is you will understand why these services are centralised in specialist locations.

    There are usually four people in theatre. The endoscopist who guides the scope, an assistant who takes the biopsies, an anaesthestist and a nurse who will stay by your side. I don't have intravenous sedation but she's there with entonox (the gas and air they give in childbirth) if I want any.

    So, an hour tops from seeing the nurse to being wheeled to recovery and offered a hot drink. The endoscopist will come out to tell you of any immediate findings. A nurse will explain how to look after yourself in the 24 hours afterwards. if you opt for sedation you need to have someone with you. He or she will give you a factsheet with phone number to call if you have any concerns.

    I've had three colonoscopies now. I have inflammatory bowel disease which could put me at higher risk for bowel cancer so it's something I have to do. Again, I can only speak about my own experiences but I have always received the utmost care.

    Please, please, don't cancel the procedure. You will be in expert and caring hands. A 40 minute procedure could save your life. If it's worst case and they do find early signs of cancer, it's treatable. Best case, the colon guard gave a false positive and you can relax.

    Two tips: Don't be swayed by scary stories you read on here. Yes, some people don't have the greatest of experiences but far more find don't find it anywhere near as bad as they'd expected. Buy one of those plastic portable bidets that fit over the toilet. Great for soaking a sore bottom in between and after the frequent bowel movements.

    Good luck. I hope it all goes well for you and the outcome is positive.

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  • Posted

    Hi Rebecca! 

    Try and sort out the anxieties into a kind of order and not let them all come on top of you. First of all, your fears about the hospital and the staff. I’m very sorry to hear your relative died in this hospital and I can understand that is upsetting. Sadly there is no hospital in which people do not die. However, you won’t die having a colonoscopy so that is an irrational fear and you need to put that one to the back of the line! Next, fear that the prep will make you vomit. That is a perfectly rational fear. We have all had it before taking the prep but most people don’t vomit. Actually, of all the preps, citramag was the one I preferred. I have to take Moviprep now which IS a bit sickly. Citramag is fine and you don’t have to take so much of it. Don’t panic and don’t gulp. You will take it down fine and then it just makes you go to the loo a lot - it’s more boring than anything else. It’s good they are keeping an eye on you because they can watch how much water you are taking and give you some salts if you feel a bit faint. You will be fine and laughing about it in a few days. Take some Vaseline and wet wipes ( and a book to read!) to make sure you don’t get sore. You can get a bit of cramping but nothing like as bad as when you get a stomach bug and eventually you pass just water. The test itself is usually well tolerated (I have had it 6 times now) and isn’t that long. If you do feel any pain let them know. What many people feel is a bit of pressure as they go round the first bend (not pain, but pressure) and then nothing. They put it in quite quickly and then withdraw it slowly to get a good look. When they withdraw it, the tube is going in the same direction as your motions go so you don’t feel anything. Then, the big fear. Is it cancer? Again this is a perfectly rational fear and EVERY PERSON WHO HAS THIS TEST HAS THE FEAR. Most cancers in the bowel begin by being harmless non-cancerous growths and they take many years to become dangerous (and some never do anyway). During the procedure they can usually get rid of any growths. It is totally painless. And then they tell you based on the growth how soon you will need another check up: anywhere between 3 and 10 years usually. It is very unlikely you have cancer: much, much more likely to be something else like hemorrhoids or diverticulitis or inflammation or none of the above and just an irritable gut. If there are any growths (polyps) they can zap them there and then and in the unlikely event there is cancer that can often be dealt with successfully. The earlier it is found the better. So, don’t let all these negative thoughts overwhelm you. 1) you won’t die in the hospital having this test; 2) the prep will be fine if a bit of a nuisance; 3) it will be a good idea for them to keep an eye on you if they think it necessary in case your fluids need balancing; 4) the procedure is actually pretty simple and most people tolerate it very well. If you don’t for any reason let them know but expect a few seconds of pressure in the early part; 5) it is very, very  unlikely you have cancer and far more likely to be something else or nothing at all BUT, if it is cancer, then you are getting it looked at early which often means it can be dealt with there and then anyway or with treatment that will stand a very good chance of success. But it is very unlikely to be cancer at all. So, the fear of cancer is a rational fear we all have but you need to keep it in proportion - it is very unlikely and you are getting it all looked at early. I hope that helps you order the stress in your mind and relax a bit. We all get stressed with this procedure (even with my sixth one!) but it helps and makes the procedure easier if your muscles are not all tensed up. Good luck and let us know how you get on. Very best, David.

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    • Posted

      What a wonderful reassuring and sensible post. I am due to have a colonscopy very soon, and also suffer from severe anxiety. However the anxiety worrying about what could be wrong with me , vastly outweighs the stress around the actual procedure. I was scared out of my wits reading some of the posts here, but this one and a few others have been amazingly reassuring . Sincere thanks .

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  • Posted

    Hi Rebecca

    The help and advice given to you by others on here is extremely useful and pretty accurate, so do try and take it all in.

    I've been diagnosed with Anxiety, and I hate the thought of any hospital procedure, trust me I'm a total wimp when it comes to hospitals, doctors and treatment. However I have managed to push myself through two colonoscopies in the last two years, because the need to find out what was going on inside me was greater than not knowing, having suffered with digestive problems for the last 4 years. Admittedly it was the hardest thing I had to do, and at points leading up to my first one I almost cancelled numerous times, however I fought those feelings and went through with it.

    Both colonoscopies weren't as bad as I thought they would be, the bowel preparation is by far the worst bit, it left me feeling very nauseous, drained and tired, and my bottom got quite sore but as long as you have baby wipes for cleaning up and a soothing barrier cream then this discomfort can be minimised. You just have to make sure you keep up with your fluid intake, so keep the water flowing. The colonoscopy itself was a breeze in comparison to the preparation, although I was offered pain relief and sedation which I took. I was alert through the whole procedure and even watched everything on the TV screen, which was quite interesting really.

    You have to remember the risks of complications are very rare, and I'm sure everything will go well for you. Don't listen to scare stories you hear, people are more than likely to talk about bad experiences rather than good ones, there are thousands of these performed every year because the procedure is generally considered safe. I know this is probably hard for you take in, and if you are like me, your anxieties will be going through the roof until the time it is all over and you're recovering, but I'm sure everything go as planned and you will be like me afterwards, wondering what all the fuss was about.

    Take care and all the best, I'm sure all will go well and hope for a positive outcome.

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    • Posted

      Again what a very sensible and reassuring post. Thank you so much for taking the time to write it . You have helped me to sleep tonight ! I seriously have to ask the question why some people fee the need to post such distressing and negative things, and yet, others like yourself can be so reassuring and helpful. Thank you so much .

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    • Posted

      Yes i remember my first colonoscopy I was scared at first but I did it the only bad part is that prep it only took 20 minutes to get it done which this could have been done in my 40's which I told 3 doctors to order it and they never did so I ended off getting a 5 cm poylp which could have been prevented if those doctors would have sent me off too get that colonoscopy and that away I eould have not had too have that robotic surgery done too have half of my colon removed.

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  • Posted

    Please get that done unlike me I had 3 previous doctor who did not screen me in my 40's for a colonoscopy I just had surgery on this Monday the doctor found 2 polyps one was very small and the other one was 5cm I had too have half of my colon removed so those doctor's better call there lawyers thanks too them if they would have screened me those polyps would have been small enough then too remove and my colon would not have been removed. I have done a colonoscopy there is nothing too it the worst part is only the prep I would do it ok.

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  • Posted

    Hi Rebecca,

    I don't see quite a few very kind folks, gave you some wonderful advice! 

    PLEASE come back after your procedure and post here, how it went!  I am thinking of you!


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    • Posted

      OOPS!  Typo above.  I MEANT TO SAY...………….. I SEE, quite a few very kind folks.   Not, I don't see!  I'm sorry.


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