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Just wanted to share my experience of having an endoscopy without sedation yesterday (I'm from the US where sedation is highly pushed on you). Hopefully, this will allow others to not be afraid, as I know GERDers have to have this procedure every so often.
I am a 26 year old male who lives in California. Relatively healthy, though I'm a bit overweight (6'2 and 219 pounds). Went to the office with symptoms of severe upper back pain, chest pain, and swallowing pain/troubles - with the thought that maybe I had progessively bad GERD. Luckily, post procedure, I was found to have probably just had a bout of stress related reflux. Otherwise, I look perfect with no issues in my esophagus (thank God!). For now I am waiting a few months for the biopsy of my stomach (potentially have mild gastritis).
Now, onto the procedure:
I went to the office 30 minutes before my procedure and got my insurance/paperwork squared away. After waiting 15 minutes, reading this great forum for advice [smile] , I was brought back and changed into a hospital gown.
Here in the states, we have GI clinics that can do the procedure as an outpatient visit, VERY cost-effective, but also kinda scary because you walk back realizing you aren't necessarily in a hospital setting if something goes wrong (i.e. I would need to be rushed across the street to the nearest hospital should something not go right).
Once I was changed, I was informed that an IV would need to be inserted, even if I didn't want sedation (which everyone in the office thought I was a lunatic for). I hate needles, so I would've preferred not doing this, but it is relatively easy for me to handle it if I just don't look.
After the IV is inserted you lay down for roughly ten minutes and wait your turn to be wheeled in. I'm sure this varies depending on where you get the procedure done.
After being wheeled in, two nurses introduced themselves and asked me if I had any allergies to sedatives. I informed them that I really didn't want to be sedated, they obliged, but did say they would sedate me if I couldn't handle the procedure.
One of the nurses said she has only had 2 people go through the procedure awake since she's worked there (and she's been there quite some time). That was a near pants-staining statement [smile] . Though in her defense she was super sweet and was just trying to joke with me (I think she thought that I was overconfident, when I was quite the opposite - I was just putting on a brave face).
I was very fortunate that I got the best doctor that works at the clinic, he has nearly 40 years of GI experience. He is also the highest rated GI in the county I live in. Seriously, this man is amazing.
With all of the being said, when he came in, I was asked to describe my symptoms. His eyes got really big, so I thought this was more serious than I thought it was. He said, we'd get to the bottom of it literally, in about 10 minutes.
I then told him that I was foregoing sedation and he said that he wouldn't recommend it, but that he will watch me closely. If my heartbeat got to hight, I vomitted, or starting moving during the procudure, the nurse would instantly sedate me to protect my inner organs.
The female nurse then used the throat spray 2 times to really hold back my gag reflex and to make sure both sides were thoroughly covered to keep any pain from cropping up and so that they could get the thing in my throat without me vomiting. I have no idea if that's normal, but I'm glad she did it!
Then, the male nurse came over and said I am going to hold you down and keep you from moving. That got the heart going a bit.
Before I knew it the GI DR had the endoscope in hand and started feeding it down my throat. I swallowed, gagged, and away he went. I gagged multiple times throughout the procedure, but felt zero pain. The nurses were super supportive and gave me time updates and let me know where they were and that my insides looked excellent. Truly, I had the best team there making sure the procedure was going well and that I was OK. It is one thing to do the procedure well, it is a whole other thing to keep the patient mentally stable at the same time.
They took a few biopsies, which I never felt, and then started feeding the camera back out. For some reason, this was the worst part. I started gagging hard and my heart beat started racing. They got the scope out and I was reminded to think positively and that you made it through the procedure! The male nurse was so funny, he told me to think of my favorite beach to relax me [smile]
Before I knew it, I was sitting up, IV taken out, and I was told the good news.
The female nurse came out and shook my hand and told me that I was awfully brave and handled it really well. She was an absolute sweetheart about the whole thing, and I don't think I could have done the procedure without them.
So, in short, about 10 minutes of your time, versus being sedated and losing a whole day. Plus, you get to know your results sooner and you don't look/feel awful. Everyone I saw who was sedated seemed so out of it.
Glad I could handle it and I hope more folks consider this as a viable option!
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