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I've posted about this elsewhere on the site, but then realised it was just a reply to someone else's discussion.
I had a colonoscopy without sedation two days ago, and can honestly say I was taken aback by how awful it was. That said, I do know someone who had it done, also without sedation, and found it a breeze.
If you're reading this because you're about to go through it, I'm not trying to make you anxious or afraid, but I wish I'd had more of an idea about what it was like so I could have made more effort to arrange 24 hour company, and therefore had sedation.
The warnings I was given about feeling "mild wind pain" were far from the truth. I found it excruciating and it got worse and worse as the examination went deeper. The natural thing you'd be worried about would be the probe itself, but you can't feel that. It's the air that makes it unconfortable.
Let's not forget you're going through all of this after already having suffered the previous evening's preparation, which is an ordeal in itself (in fact I thought after that, how much worse can the procedure be... the answer is MUCH worse).
I sucked long and hard on the gas/air mouthpiece, which I would advise against, as I ended up vomiting (I told them I was going to vomit and was ignored repeatedly until eventually someone shoved a paper tray under my mouth when I'd already thrown up), and I think it was the nitrous oxide. The gas and air doesn't stop you from feeling anything or aleviate it, I think in a way it makes it worse as it lends a "trippy", dreamlike feel which obviously makes it 100 times more traumatic.
I think my experience was doubly bad due to a particularly callous, young Dr who, in retrospect, perhaps hadn't come across many people not having sedation, or maybe I was just more of a baby than most people about it, but either way he didn't mask his frustration or annoyance, and made it worse by telling me off and telling me such things as "I'm not even in your small intestine yet so you need to calm down", which when you're in the situation translates as "the next bit is going to be worse".
He also asked if I wanted him to stop, I said yes, then he didn't. In fact I asked eight times for him to stop and was ignored (in retrospect that's probably a good thing as I would only have been prolonging the agony or worse still doing it again on a different day).
When I mentioned that his manner made the experience worse, he shrugged and said "you signed a disclaimer".
One nurse in the room was supportive and said the small, simple things which you would imagine someone would ("Don't worry, I know it's not nice", etc) which make all the difference. Unfortunately there was the aforementioned Dr and the other nurse, who when I said "could you just talk to me or something to distract me", barked, "what do you want me to say?".
The room is dark and silent except for the sounds you'd rather not hear, and I would strongly advice anyone who works in the field who might be reading this to consider something, ANYTHING for the patient to focus on to keep their mind of proceedings.
Positive: although it feels like forever, it isn't, it's actually very quick, and without sedation, half an hour later you'll feel totally fine again (after MUCH wind from both ends).
I'm still debating whether or not to pursue the cold, inhumane attitude of the Dr, or whether to let it go. As with most things in life, shortly afterwards, when you've calmed down, you start to wonder whether you're making too much of a fuss. However I've repeatedly found myself wincing when I remember certain moments of what happened, and most of that has to do with the things the Dr was saying. I'm sure he did his best, but even when I think he was trying to confort me he was making it worse by barking frustratedly and adding humiliation to the pain.
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