I've just had a barium enema & had such info from people posting so I'd like to say thanks & add an account of my experience.

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After suffering pain in my abdomen for some time (not all the time) & also passing motions which are generally really loose & sometimes liquid a few times daily for some time - having been a once a day person - my doctor tested my urine & I had blood tests which were taken after I'd fasted. I had a pelvic ultrasound too. The ultrasound showed nothing & blood tests only showed a slight raise in sugar.

1st February: I had more blood tests today & I had another ultrasound arranged to check out above the pelvic area (stomach, liver etc) on 10th February BUT I'd been booked in for a barium enema Xray on 9th & it is this that I was concerned about. I am in Weston-Super-Mare having these tests.

I suffer from anxiety attacks especially when stressed, I couldn't think of anything else but the xray (& the results) & I had been having nightmares & little sleep. I have been prescribed Citalopram daily to try to stop these attacks.

7th February: I was only to eat low fibre food today. As the xray dept didn't tell me WHAT to eat I ate two slices of white toast with the minimal of margarine (& black coffee which I'd have anyway) for a late breakfast then three small white rolls with chicken breast & a teeny bit of mayonaise so it wasn't so dry. I'd Googled for low fibre diets & it said I could eat chicken also mayonaise but I really wasn't sure. I do not want to have to repeat the xrays if I've done something wrong!

8th February: 7.30am I prepared the 1st Citramag to drink at 8am. I had to put 200ml of hot water into a large wide mouthed jug as it fizzes up LOADS! It was like adding water to Andrews Liver salts & it fizzed violently for ages as I stirred it. I shouldn't have looked into it as it had fumes coming from it that almost took my breath away. You could smell the lime & lemon, which it was flavoured with, all over the house.

At 8am it was cold & looked slightly milky. I was expecting it to taste disgusting but it thankfully was very pleasant. It tasted much like a very good lemonade, the one that says "made with real lemons". I was thinking it would be great with ice cubes in the heat in July in Spain sat at a beachside cafe. I'd decided to take my laptop to the bedroom & work from there as it's next to the bathroom for convenience. It wasn't long till I felt heat starting in my stomach then I needed to go. I've not had solid motions in ages & I'm used to having diarrhea, that's one reason I'm being investigated. A while later the fire began in earnest, another trip to the bathroom.

I could have white bread & a boiled or poached egg for breakfast with the same for lunch (plus cheese & clear soup like minestrone with the 'bits' strained out) & I had to fit lunch in before 4pm which was the latest time I was meant to take the 2nd dose of Citramag laxative. So, I made some toast at around 11am & was waiting for it to cool when the need took over & I flew upstairs to the bathroom. OMG! I had such incredible pain in my stomach & felt sick too. I shouted out in pain & yelled "fetch a bucket fast" to my husband who, thankfully, was within hearing distance. Jeez!!! When your stomach is empty you bring up what tastes like grapefruit juice, awful. When the intense pain hit I sicked & crapped together, I was sweating & yet I felt chilled too. I felt desperate. Suddenly the sickness left me as fast as it had come& I managed to eat my toast. I was given a reprieve from going to the bathroom & I could rest on my bed (which is by the bathroom ... just in case!)

I had more toast with a few teaspoonfuls of plain cottage cheese around 3pm - I couldn't face egg - then made up the 2nd Citramag & thought "I'm not looking forward to this, AT ALL!" At 4pm I drank that & waited & waited & waited! It was ages till my stomach stirred, it rumbled rather than felt it was on fire. I never felt any urge (or pain) to go to the bathroom with this 2nd lot, I had to remind myself to go &, by then, it was like shitting through the eye of a needle.

By 7pm I decided my bowels had settled down enough to venture downstairs to watch TV in the lounge with my husband. I kept popping to the bathroom & more came away. At bedtime I'd felt I'd got off lightly with this 2nd dose. When I lay down I felt I had to go & that happened twice before I could settle. I woke a few times during the night to go then too so I didn't have a restful night. I was also feeling shaky about this test &, quite naturally, the results.

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    9th February:I went to the bathroom a few more times before leaving home 9.45am, feeling washed out by then, & was dismayed to see I was still passing bits of faeces in water & I had the worst feeling it was going to affect the Xrays. I can't do this again, I had heard it's the preparation that's the worse part.

    My appt was at Weston Super Mare's General hospital which is the other side of town to us. I'd not even sat down when I was called through into a private changing room right by the waiting room.

    A really sweet young nurse called Cheryl of around 25 said she was going to look after me. She said Steve was the consultant radiologist who was going to do the xrays but she would be with me at all times. She saw I was very nervous .. crying & shaking in fact with fright .. but was very reassuring & said it would take 10 mins if that & they'd stop if I wanted them to. She explained what Steve was going to do. I asked if nothing was found could they please let me know rather than me have to worry up to two weeks for my doctor to get the results especially as I'm meant to be flying to Spain for two months on March 3rd. CheryI said Steve would certainly do that. I was given two cotton gowns, one to wear with the ties at the back, the other to wear like a dressing gown to preserve my modesty. Cheryl called me into a dimmed Xray room where I met Steve - looked maybe mid 30's - who also was very personable. He explained the procedure in greater detail & Cheryl had obviously had told him I was very nervous.

    I sat on the edge of a narrow padded Xray table & then lay down with my head on a pillow, my feet against a metal footrest. Steve explained he would give me an injection of Buscopan into a vein to relax my bowel which makes it more comfortable for me & easier for him to get clearer images. He couldn't find my vein in my right elbow but my left one was fine & I felt nothing, needles don't bother me anyway. Then he asked me to roll onto my left side so he could insert a tube into my anus. He put gel on my anus & very slowly inserted the tube which I didn't see but I think it was probably 1/2" in diameter, Steve said it only goes in about 2". I think his 2" differs to my 2" though. It seemed to be in further than that, it wasn't very pleasant but it was over in seconds. He said he was going to tape the tube to my BTM so it didn't come out as I'd be asked to move positions a lot. Then he said barium was flowing into my colon, I felt nothing at all till he added a bit of air when I felt like I wanted to go to the WC but the air was added very slowly. It didn't phase me & I didn't get cramps like I've read many others experience. The air expands the colon so the barium coats the colon easily. He added more air as the barium moved further into my colon.

    I started off on my left side then moved onto my back then onto my right side then I was tilted so I was almost standing up then flat on my back again then into a position where my head was lower than my legs. I also was asked to position myself partway between flat & each side, that was awkward as the xray machine was just above me so not much room. Cheryl was constantly keeping me reassured. (I was worried I'd fall off the narrow table). Steve asked me if I'd like to watch on the monitor & I watched with great interest. He explained that, if I watched a narrow part of the colon he was pointing out, it would expand as he puffed more air in. Fascinating. He said he'd done around 6,000 barium enema Xrays.

    It was over fast (10 mins Cheryl had said) & certainly not painful or with much discomfort. I'd worried about having the procedure since my Dr had said she was ordering one over two weeks ago. I'd suffered nightmares & anxiety attacks over it too, mainly the results should it indicate cancer, everyones concern. The barium bag was taken down & laid on the floor allowing the 300ml of barium (Steve said only 300ml was required to check 4 ft of colon) back into

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    CONTINUED: the bag. This, I was told, meant I wouldn't have the cramping as bad. I was shown to the WC where I was told to take as long as I liked to make myself comfortable & I was ok within a minute. I was expecting to feel bad & I didn't.

    Steve assured me he had seen nothing of concern, no cancers & no polyps either though he explained he wouldn't see any polyps under 5mm. That was the news I wanted, the news I'd dared to hope for.

    I said I had to return tomorrow to have an ultrasound of my stomach area having already had one of my pelvic area. I said I'd rung to ask if I could maybe have the ultrasound straight after the barium enema but was told the barium would affect the results but I could have the ultrasound the following day as already planned. Steve said the barium can stay in your system for a week so if I couldn't have the ultrasound that day I should not be having it tomorrow anyway (I said I'd rung Saturday & left a message & xray rang me Monday with wrong info then, he said they're only clerks!! I said they should give CORRECT info when patients ask otherwise what's the point?? This is the 2nd time I've been given incorrect info by the xray dept) Steve said it would be ok to have it today & he'd try to find someone free to do it whilst I went to the WC & got dressed. Within 5 mins he notified me that a consultant was free so he would do it & within 15 mins I'd had the ultrasound & then drunk the coffee that Cheryl had made me too..

    I took two Windsetlers gel caps (someone posting on here suggested taking Wind-Eze as soon after the test as possible to stop any cramping, I bought Windsetlers, same thing but almost half the price from Boots Chemists) once in the car & felt well enough, no wind, to go shopping in Aldi on the way home.

    Although most of the barium was drained out of me I was told to ensure I ate high fibre foods like granary bread, Fruit 'n Fibre cereal, baked beans etc which would stop constipation which could likely occur otherwise. I was told my faeces would be white for up to 36 hours too. What they didn't say was the barium was like sludgy clay & could well be a problem flushing it away.

    10th; We thought we'd get round that by keeping a large bucket in the bathroom & chucking water from that into the WC. After Googling I was worried the barium would clog up the WC out of sight, warranting an expensive visit from a plumber, so when it wouldn't flush away I donned a pair of Marigolds & gently put my hand down the pan & carefully managed to retrieve the barium Subsequent 'dumps' flushed away without problems, getting back to normality fast.

    All in all I would never be concerned again about the test but the Citramag, whilst I found very pleasant to drink, caused me pain & sickness with the initial dose.

    It obviously helped that Cheryl & Steve were very caring & reassuring, THAT made such a difference as did what I had read on here, thanks!

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    Hi JaniceW

    I was looking for something else on here and found your posting on the barium enema. Just to say I too suffered from abdominal pain, but it was localised in the lowel bowel area. Years ago I suffered from irritable bowel synndrome and many years later under stress , it happened again.Your symptoms of loose motions and bad cramping were what I suffered, and I also found it difficult to eat. I'm sure your doctor might have considered this. But with relaxation techniques and better lifestyle management, I am now much better. I'm not sure if this is relevant, but I mention it, as sometimes, certain things can be overlooked. Hope you will feel better soon!

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    Hi cabab

    Thanks for posting. I'm sure it's likely IBS. My mum's sister, Eileen, (78 ) suffers from it as did her mum. My cousin who is Eileen's 60 yr old son has same symptoms as me so likely IBS too. My sister's currently under investigations, she's still in hospital after a week there & she was in hospital last August too for the same for a week. They think her problem is diverticulosis now & have scheduled a sigmoidoscopy.

    I'm taking Citalopram 30mg daily for my anxiety problems but am waking with pins & needles down each arm & the jittery feeling still after it going away just before I had the barium enema. It ruins my mornings, thankfully at 62 I'm retired & can stay home. My Dr. has asked me to see a counsellor about the anxiety so I'm going on 27th February. Guess they'll teach me how best to relax.

    Thanks for your good wishes, good to hear you are feeling better. Take care.


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    My friend also faced same problem for two months ago. He suffered with abdominal pain, But it was localized in the lower bowel area and symptoms are loose motions and bad cramping are also faced with severe pain in abdominal, The doctor said take more care while taking food and rest. Then I find the lifestyle management assistant service while searching the websites and the assistant help my friend and take more care in all activities and he follow some relaxation techniques and he recover within few days.
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