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Whats A Colonoscopy Like?

Everyone should periodically have a colonoscopy just to make sure that everything is fine in that area. A colonoscopy allows a doctor the opportunity to take a good look inside your colon and rectum to look for gastrointestinal problems and colon cancer.

If you are having blood in your stool, abdominal pains, or changes in your bowel habits your doctor may recommend that you get a colonoscopy. It is also recommended that everyone over the age of 50 have a colonoscopy every 10 years or so. Many people are afraid of the procedure, but there is really no reason to be.

This is the recounting of a patient’s experience with her husband’s colonoscopy:

It is actually quite a simple procedure, and you will not even be aware of any discomfort.  Because my husband has family history of colon cancer he has already had two colonoscopies even though he is only 40 years old. Before he had his first one he had heard all these horror stories and was scared about the whole thing, but after he had the first one he was no longer afraid of having the procedure done.

Preparation

My husband had his procedure scheduled for 7:30 in the morning. An earlier appointment is more desirable because you will need to fast before the procedure. The day before my husband had to fast, he could have eggs cooked in any manner, jello, clear broth, clear juices, water or coffee and tea but nothing else. After 7:00 PM he was to having nothing but water. At 7:00 PM, the night before he had to drink 3 teaspoons of Fleet Phospho Soda.

He also had to drink at least 3 cups of water, but was encouraged to drink more. At 3:00 AM he had to get out of bed in the morning and drink 3 more teaspoons of the Phospho Soda, and some more water. No food can be eaten until after the procedure.

The Procedure

My husband was brought in to a room and was laid on his side. He was given a medication that is both a pain killer and a gentle sedative. This medication was administered through IV, so you will have to have the IV needle placed in your hand, so you will look like Spider Man. Depending on the drugs used, you could be awake or “out” but you will have no recollection of it once the drug wears off.

You often need to be awake though in case the doctor needs you to change positions or move slightly. If you are “out” then the nurses and techs have to adjust you. When we asked that the doctor explain what he was going to do he told us that he would be inserting a long tube that is flexible in to the rectum.

The tube has a little light at the tip of it. This apparatus is called a colonoscope. The doctor can then see the inside of your colon and rectum area on a video screen. The flexibility of the tube allows the doctor to move it all around easily. While the doctor is in there if he finds any polyps or anything that looks suspicious he can remove the polyps, and can also take tissue samples.

The polyps and tissue samples can then be taken to a lab and tested. Polyps are not always cancerous, and sometimes removing them can help you keep polyps from becoming cancerous. This is why they say on the Public Service Announcement commercials that Colonoscopies can actually save your life.

Luckily for my husband they found nothing abnormal. The whole procedure only takes between a half hour and an hour. Since they didn’t find any irregularities with my husband his procedure took just over a half hour. After the procedure you will be taken to a room with a bed while the sedative wears off. This takes between an hour and two hours.

Other than some possible cramping or gas you should feel fine. My husband experienced no discomfort whatsoever, I imagine if the doctor has remove polyps or tissue that you might have more cramping than if they don’t find anything. After the first hour after the procedure I was allowed to go and sit in the room with him to keep him company. He was a little groggy looking but was in good spirits and was joking around.

After I came in they continued to monitor his vitals for about a half hour, and then came in to give him his results, if they find something you likely need to wait for test results, but because they did not find anything he was told everything was fine. He was given some juice a graham cracker while he was coming down off the meds. They then began removing the IV and the heart monitoring sleeve .

He was then able to go home. I was told to pull up the car and he was wheeled out. Other than being a little tired he was fine, and was able to get himself out of the chair. We were told he should start out eating soft foods for the next couple of hours, and then later on could eat normally. We were told that he may have some gas but other than that should be fine. There were also some warnings of things to look out for like excessive bleeding, or pain, of course if this happens you should call the doctor.

You should not drive for at least 24 hours after the procedure, you should also not make any important decisions, or do anything important, or strenuous for 24 hours, as your thought processes may not be completely back to normal yet. My husband had a short nap when we got home, but other than that is fine and dandy and normal.

He is very impressed with the drugs that he was given and can’t believe they actually even did anything because he does not remember. So if you have reason to believe that you should get a colonoscopy but have yet to do it because you are afraid of the procedure I am telling you that there is no reason whatsoever, to be scared. The procedure is simple, and for the most part painless, and most people have no recollection of the procedure at all after they have had it. You will need a day off work, but other than that, it is simple. Having this done can also save your life.