This year is my 10 year anniversary of having Inflammatory Bowel Disease. I tend to tell people I have Crohn's Disease, but in reality despite me having had the condition for all these years, the doctors still aren't sure if it's Crohn's or Ulcerative Colitis that I have. The treatment is the same so it hasn't really mattered.
Anyway, last week I had the joys of undergoing a colonoscopy. There's a really good video on the NHS website where Lynn Faulds, a TV presenter, is filmed having a colonoscopy if you want to check it out.
During a colonoscopy, a colonoscope is used to examine your bowel. It's a long bendy tube with a camera and a light on the end and it is inserted into your rectum and moved along the length of your large intestine.
You need to eat a special low-residue diet for a few days before the examination and then the day before take laxative medication to empty your bowel.
My colonoscopy was arranged for the Friday, so on Tuesday and Wednesday I had to stick to the special diet (which is described in detail in the paperwork I was sent so I knew exactly what I was doing) and then on Thursday and Friday I was allowed fluids only.
The low residue diet is high in fat, and it wasn't hard to stick to. I had cornflakes and milk for breakfast or white toast and jam (with no bits!)... lunches were potato waffles and cheese or chicken mayonnaise sandwiches and crisps... followed by dinner of macaroni cheese! Plus I had delightful plain scones with clotted cream and jam or tea and ginger snap biscuits.
It was drinking the 2 litres of laxative on Thursday that was tough. I managed all of it, but I threw up half of the last glass!! :-/ My dad's wife Jo had arrived on Thursday morning to help me entertain the kids whilst I did the bowel prep - I doubt I'd have managed it on my own, so thank you very much.
Victoria over on Twitter (@IckleBear_) who also suffers from Crohn's was tweeting me with tips which I found really useful. So I kept the liquid in the fridge to keep it cool and had boiled sweets at the ready to suck after each glass. I also had my book and a blanket in the bathroom for when it started working (which didn't take long after finishing the last glass)! The diarrhoea lasted until about 8am the next morning but thankfully it didn't affect my sleep.
It doesn't taste nice, but I was trying to trick myself into thinking it was a nice cool drink!
I arrived at the hospital at 12.45pm on the Friday and was checked into the Endoscopy unit at Glasgow Royal Infirmary. After changing into my delightful hospital gown I was talked through the consent process by one of the nurses and was asked a few questions about when I had last eaten etc. and was given a wristband to identify me.
A nurse then came along to put a cannula into my hand. This allows the doctors to give me (plenty!) drugs for the procedure. Unfortunately after two attempts I still didn't have a cannula in my arm and I was also in tears (I was really anxious about the whole thing and the cannula issue wasn't helping matters!). A different nurse then came along and in literally a second the needle was in!
|Still managing to smile!|
Shortly after I was whisked away into the room for the procedure.
Now I'm not going to lie. It was not pleasant and it hurt quite a bit. Apparently it shouldn't be that sore and the worst bit for most people is drinking the laxative fluid the day before. But I have very tight turns in my bowel and 9 years ago when I had my last colonoscopy I was screaming on the table whilst the nurses manipulated my bowel to get the scope along. They gave up and have never got round my large intestine, until now that is.
I was given a sedative and painkiller via a cannula in my hand, and given my previous experience I was given a high dose of both!
It's preferable for you to be awake as it allows you to move around on the bed as the procedure progresses. This time I was on my left side at the start, before moving onto my back, then my right side, and then my tummy before going back onto my side again.
I'm thankful that we managed to get round my large intestine though as we've discovered that most of my bowel is healthy, but at the far end there is active inflammation. So the doctors were able to take biopsies and I'll get the results in a few weeks.
I was then wheeled back to the ward to allow me to rest and I slept for an hour or so as the drugs wore off.
I had been looking forward to my tea and toast, but was extremely disappointed to be given a rather crap looking cheese sandwich. It wasn't very appetising.
Now I just need to wait for the biopsy results...