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I went for my first gastroscopy yesterday and want to share my experience and thoughts if it helps someone else. I asked the nurse for a few statistics: what percentage of people opt for no sedation - answer, about 50%, majority men.
I am female, 50, and decided that I would try it without sedation, so that I would know what it was like, and I would be able make a more informed choice if I ever have to have it again.
I was as nervous as anyone else, but I fear the idea of conscious sedation more than I fear discomfort. I have read lots of stuff from the hysterical to the comforting and am glad I did it without sedation, to make my own mind up.
I am not judging anyone else here, as I am aware that personal circumstances will affect the experience massively. I can imagine if there is any inflammation or damage to the esophagus that it there may be more discomfort than I experienced.
The throat spray works within a few minutes to make the esophagus, throat and tongue numb. I was worried about this but I needn't have been. I was laid down on my left hand side and the mouthpiece was inserted and secured. I was told I would feel the scope pass over my tongue and I automatically swallowed as it reached my throat. This bit is very unpleasant as it passes through, but it is momentary. As the scope is pushed down the sensation is uncomfortable, there is a sensation of pressure and movement in the chest. At this point I had my eyes tight shut and wholly concentrated on my breathing to relax. At no point did I gag or feel unable to breathe. I was fine.
I felt it in my stomach, moving about – a bit freaky, but most of the issues were with my mind, not my body. Keep breathing through it.
Then the camera is withdrawn. As it comes up through the throat this is the first and only wretch but it’s done now. A quick clean up, blood pressure check and I am walking out leaving the patients who went in earlier, recovering from their sedation in their beds. All I have is a bit of a tender gullet – it feels like there is a lump in my throat but that’s it.
Honestly, it is not a pleasant experience – but it is easily bearable. The fear is because you know what’s happening. The procedure is uncomfortable, it is not painful and it is very quickly over. If I had to have it again I would do it again with just the throat spray, no sedation.
I hope this is helpful to others.
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