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After reading a large number of unsettling reviews of this procedure I decided after having the procedure myself I'd share my experience in a bid to reassure anyone who may be awaiting their own appointment.
My GP referred me for the Endoscopy after reporting a few symptoms that had been bothering me for the past few years. I am a fit and generally healthy 25 yr old male but since my early 20's I've suffered with heartburn, acid reflux, palpitations, tenderness around the sternum, difficulty getting a full breath and most recently tightness in my throat and trouble swallowing (even to the point where I have choked on my food a few times or its got lodged have way down my oesophoagus and has taken hours to clear!).
Anyway with that in mind I thought that the benefit of having the UGI outweighed any discomfort I might have to endure for what is a very short procedure time.
I am quite a worrisome person and i tend to let my thoughts get out of hand sometimes, so as soon as I had confirmed my appointment date and time, it played on my mind and I couldn't help look at all the reviews previous patients had posted. Unfortunately a great deal of these reviews are extremely negative and do nothing to quash the fears of a worrier.
On the day of my appointment I went to my local hospital's day procedure unit and checked in at the desk.
I had a short wait before a nurse called me in to discuss the procedure and reassure me on the simplicity of it.
I had went with the intention of getting the conscious sedation but the nurse was fairly certain a "strapping young man such as myself" could do it no problem without it.
For me the fact she herself had the procedure a few years ago herself was comforting to me and she described it as a "doddle".
All in all the chat was fairly informal. All the while she was going over the details with me she was monitoring my blood pressure and heart rate and took my temperature.
In general this was good pre-procedure preparation in my opinion as it took my mind off all those horrible reviews I'd read.
She concluded the chat by telling me she had to be totally impartial about offering sedation or the local anaesthetic spray but she did gently try to persuade me to avoid the sedation. I was then told i didn't have to make a decision right there but before I was brought into the procedure room they would check with me to see if I'd decided.
I went back out to the waiting area for a little while and had a chat with my dad and chilled out on the comfy seats.
I always take him with me to these sort of things as he's perfect at helping distract me with a bit of banter and "craic".
After about 45 minutes I was called into a little room beside the procedure room.
An assistant nurse (who was very comforting) talked through the process again with me and I signed a document to confirm I understood everything and the miniscule risk that is involved (as with every procedure).
Once in the procedure room I had a small gown put over me and I met the doctor and the other nurses in the room (there was about 3 or 4 of them).
My throat was sprayed 6 times in total with the numbing spray.
After about 10 seconds it was totally numb and for me personally this was the most uncomfortable part of the whole thing. It genuinely felt like I couldn't breath and i explained this to the nurses but they quickly attached an oxygen monitor onto my finger and the screen's read out showed 100% oxygen. So although it felt pretty weird this did comfort me as I knew it was just my mind playing tricks on me.
It took me a few minutes to calm down as I had worked myself up by this point but the nurses were very reassuring and had me on my side a few moments later were a small mouth guard was placed over my teeth.
I was really worried at this point as to what was about to happen but in reality it really wasn't all that bad.
The tube about index finger width was placed towards the back of my mouth and I was told to swallow.
I literally didn't feel a single gag. (I always thought i had a sensitive gag reflex but for me I didn't gag once the whole time).
The feeling of the camera moving around in your throat/stomach is not something you could get used to it but it is not painful.
To hear of people gagging/squirming and describing the experience as the worst thing they've ever had to go through is in my opinion totally
unnecessary and is simply scare mongering.
The doc took a few samples using a thin peice of wire that is passed through the middle of the endoscope. I felt nothing when the samples were taken. I could feel little trickles of water down my throat as he studied the oesophagus closer (they do this to get a better view).
That was actually quite a soothing feeling weirdly.
I could see the doctor moving the camera around/moving it in deeper and shallower. I could sense something was there but generally it wasn't all that bad. Uncomfortable, but nothing out of this world scary or painful.
On withdrawl of the scope I let out a massive burp and gag but that was the only time during the whole procedure that i did so and it was actually pretty satisfying after having the scope in there for 4 or so minutes.
I might add that the whole time during the procedure the nurses were comforting me; telling me how well I was doing and that it would be over soon. Having one holding onto my hand, one with a hand on my side and one patting my head gently was for me exactly what I needed.
I focused on their words the whole time and tried not to pay too much attention to what was going on.
Afterward the camera was removed the doc gave me a quick summary of his findings (inflammation of the stomach) which i was pleasantly surprised with as I had convinced myself over the years I had a hiatal hernia and all sorts of scarring on my oesophagus.
He recommended 3 months course of PPI medication similar to one I had taken in the past before my diagnosis but I hadn't been able to take due to them upsetting my stomach. (I see my GP tomorrow to hopefully get started on these).
I was then wheeled out to the recovery room and the nurses gave me a small envelope to give to my GP.
I was told not to drink for at least 1 hour.
I was up and on my feet within 10 minutes and for me all the nurses and the doc did an excellent job (even though i was the last appointment of the day) I hadn't once felt rushed or pushed by any of them.
All in all not a bad experience; yes a bit uncomfortable but in the grand scheme of things and of all the things we may have to confront in our lives not a big deal.
Please, try not to worry too much, its short and its over before you know it and generally our NHS staff our amazing and will do their very best to comfort you.
Don't listen to all the drama queens folks. I live to fight another day!
Think positive and all the best with your procedure.
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