A man recently stuck a camera up my bum. Not for fun, no. I’ve had a colonoscopy.
You may have read before that I haven’t been well for a while. Having a colonsoscopy was a big moment for me. I’ve never had one before and didn’t quite know what to expect.
Having a colonoscopy isn’t something that get discussed openly or over a cup of tea. They’re not seen as being normal, but they’re as standard as X-Rays.
So I’m going talk about my experience of having a colonoscopy from preparation through to recovery.
Trust me, if I can smile afterwards, then the procedure is not as bad as you think it’ll be.
Preparing for a colonoscopy
The day before the examination, I had to drink Moviprep Orange. Other brands and concoctions are available, but this is the brand I am now unfortunately familiar with. It’s a hefty laxative that leaves your bowel squeaky clean.
Moviprep Orange is a combination of two powders, mixed together in a jug with water to create a litre… You then have to drink it over an hour or two, wait two hours then make up another jug.
Sounds alright as the ‘orange’ part of its name gives you the feeling that it will taste like orange. They wouldn’t ask you to drink that much if it were awful right? Wrong.
Before taking it, the part I was most concerned about was having to also drink 500ml of something else per drink. I needn’t have worried about that part.
Drinking Moviprep orange
After my first mouthful I wanted to gag. It has a salty, medical tang and there’s a lot of it to get through. The clue should have been from the leaflet that explains how to make it more palatable. What they really should say is “Yes, this does taste like crap”.
I found that adding a bit of squash to it helped the taste mildly. I can’t stress the ‘mildly’ enough, but with enough squash you can at least try and focus on the flavour. Nothing can make it palatable really. I then just had to gulp it down as quick as possible – but no more than 3 gulps in a row else it’ll make you want to vomit. I’d then treat myself with a chase of water which REALLY helped.
The leaflet said to drink it over 1 to 2 hours – but to be honest it’s best to drink it within 45 minutes as all hell starts breaking loose at about an hour. You won’t want to have to still be drinking it in between the purge.
The next step in my journey to a clean bowel was the purge. Anyone who suffers from bowel problems will be well acquainted and actually, this part isn’t too bad. You know it’s coming and actually it’s a relief. With a litre of that stuff inside you and a stomach fit for bursting, it’s going to come out and only in one way. Violently.
Just don’t venture too far away from a toilet, prepare with some barrier cream beforehand and maybe some soft wipes if you’re feeling particularly posh.
Now is not the time to scrimp on quality of toilet roll.
After not eating anything but clear liquids since 9am the previous morning, I was starving the next day, but still couldn’t eat. What got me through the morning was the thought of food.
After filling out the paperwork of my medical history etc, I was asked to put the theatre gown on and take off my knickers and trousers. A bit presumptuous on a first encounter, but I did it anyway ;).
I took a magazine and book with me for a distraction as there’s a fair amount of waiting around to do – although I lucked out and had a TV in my room.
The student nurse tried to find a vein in both of my arms (one twice) before finally opting to put a cannula in my hand. I have tiny veins that apparently vanish when they see a needle. I’m not the best with needles as they make me want to gag but I put up with them ‘for the greater good’. I just looked away and thought about the fact that it’d be over with soon.
After that, it was a short shuffle down in my slippers and dressing gown to the theatre – the dressing gown mainly for modesty purposes rather than warmth else I’d flash someone my perfectly prepped bum.
I’ve watched a LOT of Grey’s Anatomy so I was expecting a silver very surgical looking room when they said theatre. What I actually found was more similar to a dentist room with a mobile TV screen mounted next to a gurney. A bit of a disappointment to be honest. Luckily he didn’t ask me to open wide.
After hopping on and lying on my left side, they squeezed the drugs into my cannula – one light sedative called Midazolam and 2 pain killers called Fentanyl. After a bit of pressure in my hand, the woozy head set in within a few minutes. Not quite as full on as other sedatives as I was still alert enough to have normal but sleepy conversations and I didn’t start a sing-song in the room, so no embarrassing bits. I remember it all too, just wasn’t too fussed.
This meant that I could move around when asked – which I can tell you isn’t an easy feat when you have a pipe halfway up your bum like someone in the Matrix.
I was originally a bit worried about the idea of someone sticking a camera up my bum.
After all, I have a very clear rule in life of ‘nothing in the out hole’ and it is quite a private area.
But to be honest, I didn’t notice that bit. The part where they stick the camera up your bum wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. I thought I’d have a shocked response, but honestly I can’t remember it. A student nurse stood by my side the entire time holding my hand, dealing with me squeezing it and chatting to me to distract me. I really appreciated her company. What I didn’t enjoy were the corners and being blown up with gas like Violet from Willy Wonka.
The literature warns you about the corners but MY GOD. As per usual when they say you could have ‘mild discomfort’ they mean that it’ll feel like you want to curl into a ball, hold your breath and moo like a cow. It hurts when they’re trying to push the relatively unbendy scope around the bends and you can feel it. So much so that they needed to push more pain killers into me.
Does a colonoscopy hurt?
So the answer of “does a colonoscopy hurt?” is: For me, yes it did, but that’s why they have some kick-ass painkillers on hand. In all, the pain was such a short amount of time during the colonoscopy – most of the procedure was relatively painless.
Once they reached the end of the road, he asked me if I was looking at the screen so he could show me a few bits. Like a sightseeing tour I saw my own appendix from the inside and the lining of my gut which was nice and pink…. apart from the red bit where he’d just taken a sample from. Not many people can say that they’ve seen their own appendix from the inside, although I can imagine not many people particularly wanting to.
It is such a short procedure that it’s over within about half an hour (at least mine was).
I was wheeled back to my room by the friendly nurse where I was asked if I wanted something to eat. That is the most stupid question you could possibly ask to someone who has been starving themselves for over a day. Of course I wanted a flippin’ sandwich. In fact I actually wanted all the food in the world. Soon, my sandwich arrived and I was fine to go home after about an hour.
The biggest after effect to notice is a LOT of wind.
As they took a few biopsys of my gut, I’m still having a few cramps. They feel nothing worse than a period so completely manageable – just annoying! The laxatives turned my bowels into a slip and slide, so it’s no surprise that it will take my gut a few days to feel normal.
The next morning I passed some blood from the biopsy which was to be expected but nothing serious or to be concerned about.
I hope this has helped to demystify what really happens when someone sticks a camera up your bum. Although a pain in the bum, it’s not worth putting off if you need one.