Horrendous endoscopy experience? Any others with similar stories?

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So today I went for an endoscopy. I'm 22, and have been experiencing epigastric pain, and other problems for a while. My GP prescribed Omeprazole, which helped it a lot, and he also booked an endoscopy.

I'd read all the horror stories and honestly thought people must be over-exaggerating. I have quite a high pain threshold, and although I'm an anxious person, felt pretty sure I could do the endoscopy without the sedation (as it wasn't really convenient for me to be sedated anyway.)

I waited 3 hours in a boiling hot, cramped waiting room. The nurses attending to me checking my notes, seemed quite nice though. Eventually I was called in, I was starving hungry and thirsty having not been able to eat or drink since early in the morning, and by the time I was seen it was going on 4 o'clock (they don't seem to take this in consideration when making you wait for so long to be seen, as I get  hypoglycaemic if I don't eat regularly).  I lay down on a bed, and the nurse said "Right, she's having the spray!".. I got a mouthful of vile tasting liquid that I had to swallow. It didn't make my mouth particularly numb to be honest, apart from I felt like my tongue was swelling a bit. 

Next thing I know, I have a mouthpiece in, and the tube was put down. It was so , I cried the whole way through. There is literally no other way to describe it other than you feel you are being suffocated alive. The tube feels massive, you can feel every manoeuvre, and you are continually convulsing with the amount of gagging, belching, and dry heaving. This, combined with the amount of sheer panic you have that you can't breathe properly, and not being able to stop the procedure... It was very traumatic.

They took biopsies of something, and the doctor oohed and aahed about an "enormous" something or other he'd spotted in my stomach. At one point the nurse behind me (not the one holding me down) started having a casual conversation with another nurse who just waltzed in. I was discharged pretty swiftly after this, in a complete state. My stomach is still full of air now (they pump it full of air, which just makes the gagging worse), and I am sore and worn out, having vomited twice since I got home.

I don't know if sedation would have made it any more bearable, but if you have the option of possibly alleviating the pain and panic,  I would take it.I would most certainly not agree to have another endoscopy without sedation next time. 

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  • Posted

    Sorry you had such a terrible time, Alex. I did too, though my case was complicated and what happened to me was very much a one-off. To be fair, most people reporting in these forums say they had a completely zen experience, whether they had the sedation or the spray. I think you and I were just unlucky.

    I did actually have the sedation but because I'm over 65 they only gave me a half-dose, which made me worse. It seemed to suppress my higher intellectual centres, which might have helped me to cooperate, while leaving the primitive mid-brain in the driving seat. Although I kind of knew what was happening, I felt like a terrified wild animal. It took six people to hold me down and I would have torn the nurse's eyes out if she hadn't been kneeling on my arm.

    However, as I say - my case was different. I'd swallowed my large, spiky denture three weeks earlier, it had lodged in my throat but had no metal parts so wasn't showing up on X-ray. I got thrown out of two hospitals in those three weeks and would have been thrown out a third time were it not for the insistence of the friend who accompanied me, challenging the ghastly woman doctor who was screaming at me that the denture was in my throat, not my head.

    As a result, everybody was pretty fed up with this neurotic time-waster by the time I got into the endoscopy suite for a gastroscopy "to prove once and for all you haven't swallowed your denture". There was then a full-scale panic when they discovered it firmly stuck at the entrance to my oesophagus, with a fair degree of ulceration around the wound it had caused. I was kept in for 24 hours after that, with intravenous antibiotics, two-hourly observations to make sure I wasn't bleeding etc. The young doctor who did my pre-discharge check-up the following day had the cheek to tell me it was my fault they'd caused so much damage to my throat because I'd struggled so much. Nine months on, I'm happy to say I'm fine again, though I still have a bit of trouble swallowing bread, due to scarring.

    I think sedation is probably the better option, especially if you're under 65. But I've heard several horror stories from the over 65s who, like me, were made worse by the sedation. It's called a "paradoxical reaction" but is very rare in younger people. I'm lucky enough to live in a country where you can insist on a general anaesthetic (though you pay the difference in cost) so if I ever have to have one again that's what I'll go for!

    I hope you'll soon be feeling better.

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  • Posted

    I see your point, it's horrific and they only gave me 3mg of medazolam. Why they thought this stupid amount would work I don't know ! It didn't relax me at all and I was wake through the whole thing and the procedure was abandoned as I tried to pull out scope. Now I have to wait for a Barium Meal. Depending on that result, I'll be having heavier sedation or a GA next time. To top it off I was offered a cup of tea (what an insult!).
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    • Posted

      Sian - I don't know how old you are, but if you're over 65 (over 60 in some hospitals) or have any history of heart or breathing problems they won't give you more than 3mg. They might say they're going to, but they won't. I do actually know what I'm talking about, as I'm a former nurse. This type of sedation can be dangerous for the elderly - hence the sad history of Joan Rivers - so they tend to err on the side of caution. (Propofol in her case, but high doses of benzos like midazolam can have the same effect.) Also, some NHS hospitals have a policy of only giving minimal sedation to everyone, to speed up the turn-round time.

      I'm devoutly hoping never to have a gastroscopy again, but if I did have to have one I'd dig in my heels and demand a GA!

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