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Preparing for and Endoscopy

Updated on December 25, 2011

This is not the most pleasant of procedures. I’ve personally had two of them and both experiences were entirely different, one better than the other. I will touch on them a little later and hopefully with a bit of guidance you’ll have an idea what to expect and what to choose.

What is an Endoscopy?

This is a procedure where the inside of your body is examined using an instrument called an endoscope. The Endoscope is a long thin tube with a video camera on the end that is passed through your mouth and down into the stomach up to the first part of the small intestine (Duodenum). This procedure is to check for underlying conditions that are to do with the digestive tract. In my case it was to find out what was causing acid reflux and to investigate whether I was Celiac and to test for Helicobacter pylori (Bacteria that can cause peptic ulcers).

How to prep before the procedure

The doctor will schedule an appointment. The appointment should give you some guildlines on what to expect and how to prepare for the procedure. The main thing it should tell you is that you have to stop any medication that is to do with your stomach, by this I mean Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPI) or any other acid reducing drugs. These must be stopped ten days before the procedure. This is so that they can identify any abnormalities of the stomach and the production of acid within the stomach. The medication interferes with this by reducing the acid in your stomach and this would give an inaccurate diagnosis. The appointment letter should also state that if your procedure is in the morning you should refrain from eating and if it is in the afternoon you should at least allow six hours without any food before the procedure.

Arriving for the appointment

You’re probably nervous as hell. I was on my first one. I had two different experiences which I hope will help anyone who is due this procedure. The first time I decided to have a sedative, so I took a friend with me to drive me home after the procedure. I felt this was a big mistake and my reason is this:

On arrival I was seen by a nurse who tired to convince me to do the procedure without sedation. Bear in mind I’m shaking in my boots about the whole procedure. After a bit of talking I decided that perhaps she was right. So I was taken into a different room and in that room I heard the absolute painful thing. Someone was obviously having the procedure done and it sounded awful. That was a bad move on the surgery’s part. Next the doctor came in, unfortunately he wasn’t that friendly and by that time I’d got cold feet about doing it without any sedation. He went through the procedure as if reading through a script, he didn’t connect with me and I was even more terrified than before.

I laugh now but I was the longest patient in there and held up everyone else. As I entered the room, I saw the size of the endoscope. Size of my little finger my arse! It’s quite a bulking tube. The sounds and the doctor standing over me with throat spray to numb my throat just froze me up. I refused to open my mouth and the doctor told me it was one or the other the numbing spray or the sedative. It took me a while to calm down and decide but finally I went with sedation.

On my part I think that was a bad move. Even though sedation is supposed to calm you down you still feel everything. I felt everything, the air being pumped into my stomach, the loud and uncomfortable belching and the wrecthing! It was awful and unpleasant. Even though the procedure is only four minutes it was the longest four minutes of my life. To top it up I had to wait another forty five minutes before I could leave just so they could make sure I had no reaction to the sedative. The rest of the day I wasn’t fully functional. After that I must admit that sedation didn’t go down well with me.

Unfortunately a few weeks later I had to go for another endoscopy because the previous doctor had not checked for celiac or Helicobacter pylori. I was devastated and terrified. This time I had to drive myself so there wasn’t the option of having sedation. This time my procedure was at a hospital. This time I sat down with the doctor and he talked me through the procedure. He was calm and confident and told me that if I follow his instructions I would be fine. To top it up the two nurses in with me were brilliant. So bold and prepared I took the throat spray (Bitter banana flavour) and had the endoscopy. The truth is, it wasn’t that bad nor was it as bad as when I had it under sedation. With the sedation it felt like I was having a really bad dream but without it I was in control.

Why do I think having it with out sedative was better for me:

The doctor spoke to me, he instructed me to take in deep breaths. What happened when I did that, it stopped the gagging reflex. Each time I felt the gag come up he told me to take a deep breath and it would stop. I felt everything but it wasn’t sore or uncomfortable just strange. I was aware but I was also in control. Yes I was nervous but each time the nurses and the doctors encouraged me to keep taking in deep breaths the tube went down just fine and came out faster it honestly wasn’t that long. The best part was when I got to walk out without having to wait another forty five minutes for the sedative to wear off.

I don’t like the procedure nor do I wish it on anyone but if I have to do it again I would do it without sedation. I was in control and was able to take deep breaths making it easier than being out of control and the doctor shoving the instrument down my throat and gagging through the whole procedure. Whatever you decide always make sure it’s what you want and not what someone else is pushing for.

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