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I have read many posts here about peoples experience of an endoscopy and so thought it might be helpful to post my experience as someone who was nervous about the procedure.
I have had some abdominal pain since christmas, had blood tests, stool samples, urine samples, an ultrasound and a sigmoidoscopy which is like a colonoscopy but doesn't go as far up (i think). All had come back normal but the pain still persists an so an endoscopy was the next option.
Today was the day of my endoscopy after my original appointment was cancelled the day before it was supposed to happen. Basically i've been through the build up to it twice, which when you are apprehensive about something isn't really something you want althought the temporary relief when the first one got cancelled was welcome.
Here's how my day went.
My appointment was at 14:50 at a Living Care facility near Leeds. It's the same place i had my sigmoidoscopy a few weeks ago and so i found going there a bit less daunting as that was part of the whole thing that i knew what to expect.
I went to work this morning rather than sitting at home thinking about it, i had a cereal bar at 8am and then that was it as far as food and drink until after the endoscopy.
I came home and collected my other half and my 6 month old son who was there for moral support, my other half incase i decided to go for the sedation to drive me home.
We left with plenty of spare time, i find being where i need to be in good time gives me chance to compose myself. I play in a band and getting to venues early calms the nerves so I put the same thing in to practice for today.
I checked in and went to the waiting room and was called in to a private room after 10 minutes for a pre-assesment by a healthcare assistant who did my blood pressure, which was sky high due to the nerves, then asked me a few questions about my medical history etc. I had left my partner and son in the waiting room and didn't see them again until after it was all over.
I was then moved to something like a small hospital ward, 6 curtained off cubicles where i was told to wait for the Clinical Nurse Specialist who would be doing the endoscopy to come and see me to explain the procedure.
I was waiting for a while, maybe 20 minutes, but being there actually helped me calm down....at least i couldn't read all the horror stories from there. By the time the CNS arrived I was quite calm although when the curtain went back the heart rate went up again.
She went through the procedure and asked if i wanted sedation or just throat spray. I had contemplated both but with a 6 month old to help look after i decided to be a brave daddy and just get on with it with the throat spray. The nurse could tell i was nervous and was doing her best to reassure me. I signed the consent forms and she led me in to the room where i was to have the endoscopy done.... exactly the same room i had my sigmoidoscopy......i hope it was a different camera She introduced me to 2 other nurses who we also very reassuring. One of the other nurses stayed right with me the whole way through and the other one was more to help with the procedure.
I sat on the bed and was given a quick rundown of the equipment, by this point i really just wanted to get on with it. Now one important point...the tube is not as big as i expected. I'd say about 10mm thick at the most.
The nurse who was assisting the lead nurse clipped a monitor on my finger to measure oxygen and heart rate (i assume).
The lead nurse then clipped a spray nozzle on to the bottle of lignocaine and asked me to open my mouth and hold my breath. She sprayed 2 or 3 squirts of the liquid into the back of my mouth and then after a couple of seconds told me to swallow. I'll not lie, it tastes pretty horrible.... not gone off milk bad, but not something you'd order a pint of at the bar.
She waited a few seconds and then asked me to open really wide and stick my tongue out. This time she stuck the nozzle right in the back of my throat and squirted a good few times. This was the worst part for me. I gagged pretty bad but there's nothing to throw up and it was just one heave from the shock. I imagine if you squirted water down your throat like that it would have the same effect.
We sat for a minute or two for the spray to kick in....and it does. It feels like you have a lump in your throat and when you swallow it feels strange, like you know you are swallowing but you just don't feel it.
My main point about the whole procedure is this; if you can keep hold of your senses and keep calm, telling yourself that everything you are experiencing, despite being new to you, is exactly how it's meant to be then the whole thing is going to be fine. This came to me on that first gag when she sprayed the lignocaine into my throat. Expect the gagging and you can cope with it.
So, with the back of my tongue and my throat numb, i was asked to lay on my left side with my chin down, this felt a bit weird.....i was thinking sword swallowers put there head up My right arm was straight down my body and i was told to give myself a hug with my left arm......i already was!
The nurse who was on my team for this match was stood right by my head and had a hand on my shoulder, giving a reassuring squeeze a few times over the next few minutes. The mouth peice was fitted and I took a couple of deep breaths and closed my eyes.
I could feel the tube on the end of my tongue ,obviously going towards the back of my throat, but i didn't feel it touch when it got there.
Then there was a deep breath from everyone in the room as they prepared for the next bit. 'I need you to take a deep breath in and then a big swallow' I had to swallow twice and again this made me gag. This time when i gagged i was much more in control. I knew there was nothing i could do to stop this reflex and i just let it happen and then took a good breath in and relaxed. At this point the nurse said that i could really relax now, the worst bit was done. And she was right too. The rest of it was pretty comfortable. I was very wide eyed and had to really concentrate on my breathing to stay relaxed but you can just tell that the more you relax the easier it is.
As the pipe went further down, you can't really tell, i could just see the nurse pushing it further in. There was one more gag when she blew some air in to inflate my stomach but this one was much less troubling as i'd now got myself under complete control and just rode it out.
I was told there might be one more bit of a push at the very bottom but i didn't feel that one, i now had my eyes closed and was reciting the bass line in my head for a new song we've been working on in the band.
The nurse then said she was going to start bringing the tube back up slowly and was going to get a biopsy to test for Helicobacter pylori whilst she was there but that my insides were very clean looking and that there was nothing to report.
To do the biopsy the assisting nurse passed a long thin wire to the lead nurse who then fed it down the tube. You know nothing about this unless you are watching. When it got to my stomach i imagine she put it against the lining of my stomach, then she asked the assisting nurse to do something which i assume was to operate whatever the mechanism is to take the biopsy. The lead nurse then gave the wire a swift tug to pull the sample away. Now, she did this twice with the same wire down so i don't know if she missed first time or if she took two biopsies. I only felt a very small tug as she pulled the wire. If i hadn't been watching I doubt I would have noticed it.
The nurse then said she was all finished and to relax as she brought the camera back up. She slowly pulled the tube back out, stopping to look at varous bits on the way back. Right at the very end as the tube came out I had a feeling of wanting to gag but I managed to hold it back. There was a distinct feeling of relief that it was over but not because of the procedure itself but more that I didn't need to worry about it anymore.
I stayed laid down for a couple of minutes and let out a couple of burps from the air that had been pumped in and then sat up for a few seconds on the bed before getting to my feet.
We sat back down away from all the equipment and the other two nurses came and gave me some info on what to do for the next couple of hours and also hooked me back up to the monitor for a minute or two just to check i'd survived.
I was told everything looked great and knowing what other tests i'd had done that it may well be a case that my GP looks at lifestyle etc. next.
I went back out to the waiting room to see my lovely partner and son sat waiting for me. It's always good to see them but this was a bit 'gooder' than usual.
Sorry this was such a long post, but I found the details in other posts helped.
To sum up, try to relax, it helps with the actual procedure. It's not painful at all and the worst bit for me was probably the first gag.
I'll keep checking back so if you have any questions, leave them in a reply.
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