WHAT IS A COLONOSCOPY REALLY LIKE? – The Procedure and Recovery

The big day was here! It was time for my 4th colonoscopy!  Yay!

Well, doesn’t everyone have that reaction? If you do, you probably need more than just a medical consult.  Just sayin’.

Because I couldn’t stand the thought of anything with sugar (too much the day before), and because I was still limited to a liquid diet, I started the day off with a bowl of chicken broth. Even though it was the sodium reduced store brand, it was quite tasty and satisfied my need for at least some salt.

I showered, and hubby drove me to the hospital where the colonoscopy was to be performed.

Stopping at the information desk, I was happy to find my name was on the list of scheduled procedures. I expected things to go smoothly.

The lady in Admissions changed my thought process. I swear she was reading War & Peace on that computer monitor and that the occasional clicks on the keyboard were merely done when she needed to change pages.  Registration took forever, especially since the hospital had somehow managed to lose all my current information.  They listed my address and phone numbers as the ones I had years ago, even though I had been a patient in that hospital since that time.  But eventually it was all fixed.

The Admissions lady was at least 10 years older than me (yes, you can be that old, and still be alive and kicking). God bless her elderly soul, when I asked for directions to the GI suite, she got up and escorted me – albeit, slowly.

The GI waiting room was filled.   Can someone please explain to me why anyone would need to bring all three of their young children along when Daddy is having a colonoscopy?  At least one of those kids was school age, and it was a school day.  Granted, they were relatively well behaved, but they were getting tired and cranky.  Mom was doing her best.

Fortunately, my wait for entry into the pre-op area was less than 15 minutes.

Per the prep instruction, in addition to the Miralax mixture, I had drunk as many fluids as I possibly could – but I was still somewhat dehydrated, what with everything else that went on the evening before. The first nurse could not find an appropriate vein for the IV.  The second nurse found a vein and got blood return, but then the flow failed.  She thereupon called for the IV expert.  In my experience, every medical facility has at least one person who’s better at IVs than everyone else.  Mr. J, as I will call him, strolled over confidently, saying, “No problem.  I’ll get her!”  Ten minutes later, he was still trying to “get” me and chuckling about what a tough cookie I turned out to be.  Finally, he did manage to insert that darn IV into the front of my forearm (ouch!), and we were ready!

My procedure had been scheduled for 1:00 pm, and there were other procedures before me for the same doctor. Without placing any blame (after all, things can happen during a doctor’s morning office hours), the doctor didn’t arrive until 12:45.  I have to say the gurney I was on was the most uncomfortable bed I’ve ever had.  As if my butt wasn’t already sore enough.

Finally, I was taken into the surgical suite at 2:00 pm. My immediate reaction was to tell the nurse that perhaps they should consider knocking patients out before they get to that room – it was a tiny room with lots of nasty looking equipment and monitors.  I could have done without that view.

The doctor came in, at which point I took the opportunity to reiterate the call I had made to his office two days prior (and which he knew absolutely nothing about). I had been experiencing serious bleeding for more than a week and had called his office to make sure it was ok to go ahead with the procedure.  Having been told not to worry and that they often do colonoscopies on people who are actively bleeding, I went ahead with the prep and the test itself.  After hearing my story, the doctor turned to the nurse and told her to get a pediatric scope for my procedure.

Infants are tiny and young children are small, so I assumed the pediatric equipment being used for my procedure would be a tiny (or “toy” in my mind) version of the adult scope. That made me happy (be still, my aching butt).  So, imagine my surprise when the nurse came back with what looked an awful lot like an assault rifle.

They’re going to stick that in my ass? WTF?

Onward and upward, so to speak.

The nurse administered Versed and Fentanyl, and I began to feel a wee bit woozy. For about 5 minutes.  I was wide awake during the entire procedure.  Which was actually good, because I got to watch the monitor as the scope wound its way through my innards.  I got to watch polyps being removed and biopsies taken.  There was no pain, just an occasional twinge when something was snipped.  Several times the nurse asked if I was doing ok.  I was – really, I was finding the whole thing fascinating (of course, that may have been the Versed or  Fentanyl).  Although, I’m not sure the doctor really appreciated my occasional questions about what I was seeing.

The whole procedure took less than 30 minutes, and I was wheeled back to the recovery room. Everyone was a bit surprised that I was awake, talking, and pretty much ready to go home.  Most people are totally zonked for awhile after a colonoscopy.  I guess I’m just special.  Or maybe I’m just used to colonoscopies – for my first two, I was pretty well zonked out, for the third I was awake for most of the procedure but then zonked out in recovery.

It’s normal to remember absolutely nothing after a colonoscopy. The doctor comes in afterwards to talk to the patient, and most patients have no memory of what was said.   Many patients would not be able to find their way to the restroom by themselves, much less make their way home.  Which is why it’s required that arrangements be made for a friend or family member to take the patient home.  I really think I could have driven myself – God, those drugs were great!

Granted, once home – and once I had a light dinner – I took to my bed and stayed there until the next day. Best night’s sleep I’ve had in a long time!

Thanks for joining me in my colonoscopy adventure. Hopefully, if you’ve never had one, you can see that there’s really nothing to be afraid of.  Sure, there’s some discomfort during the prep and possibly some during the procedure, but colonoscopies do save lives.  Most health insurance policies cover colonoscopies (routine or otherwise), so there’s really no excuse not to have it done.

If your doctor’s been urging you to get a colonoscopy, schedule it right now.  You’ll be glad you did.

PS: Once home, I thought I would treat myself to one of those nice deli-baked chocolate chunk cookies I love so much.  This batch was extra crispy.  It was only after I bit into it that I realized the extra crispiness was caused by finely crushed nuts in the batter.  Nowhere on the label did it say the cookies contained nuts, and I had been eating them for more than a week. Now I knew why I had started bleeding the week before my test.  Well, at least it wasn’t cancer.


I love to hear from my readers. You may comment on this post, comment on my Facebook or Twitter pages, or email me at cordeliasmom2012@yahoo.com


Image by Cordelia’s Mom

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20 Responses to WHAT IS A COLONOSCOPY REALLY LIKE? – The Procedure and Recovery

  1. Jane says:

    This is good information, reassuring and funny. When I had mine done, I had the cutest male nurse for the procedure. As he was administering the cocktail, I guess I started to flirt a bit…. what ever I said, and continued to say during the procedure, I do not remember. However, in recovery, the doctor came into the cubicle and burst into laughter. Said I was quite funny. Oops. Leaving laughing I guess.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s too funny! One good reason why it’s better to actually be totally knocked out. Fortunately, I had female nurses, and the doctor, while very nice and professional, wasn’t all that cute.


  2. Sympathise with the IV. My veins run for cover, are kevlar coated and don’t give anything up without a fight. When I had my lumpectomy, they had to go in through my wrist!
    Glad all is OK though and that you’re not too uncomfortable.


  3. better rephrase that…………. for the IV for my op they went in through my wrist, not to remove Humphrey!!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. bahelberg1 says:

    Yep. You convinced me! Skip that stuff. And, by the way, a friend of mine — a nurse herself — suffered a hole punch to her gut that ruined her. Nope. Where’s the poop box?


    • Perforations during colonoscopy are extremely rare. I’m sorry your friend had that happen. I still say if your doctor advises a colonoscopy, you should schedule one – but I do understand your reservations. As I said in the introductory post to this series, just the name of the test makes people cringe.


  5. joey says:

    It’s splendid that you’re upbeat about it, which encourages others.
    I’m sorry about those stupid cookies causing the problem, but I love the way you’re proactive about your health!


    • Thanks, Joey. I need to watch my own health – I wouldn’t trust anyone else to do it. But damn, those cookies tasted good.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Karen J says:

        Cookies with ‘secret nuts’ can cause all kinds of problems for folks. I’m surprised they didn’t have some kind of mandated notice about that! Maybe I’ve been shopping at super-conscientious stores?!?


        • There was the usual notice that the cookies could contain nuts due to shared processing in the plant. That means to me that there could be mere traces of nuts, which would be ok. It did not say that chunks of nuts would be blended into the dough. I think someone made an error in labeling.


  6. LOL! I’ve really enjoyed reading your 4th colonoscopy experience, CM! This post should be printed in a healthcare magazine. ヾ(*´∀`*)ノ

    Liked by 1 person

  7. AmyRose🌹 says:

    I was one of those RN who was a whiz at IV’s. Sorry I wasn’t there for you … I would have found a vein for ya! Hubby had a colonoscopy and the experience left him so woozy that he kept saying when he awoke …. When are they going to take me? Honey, it’s been done already. He wouldn’t believe me until the doctor told him so. Great story, CM! With your health history, you are smart for keeping on top of things! Good for you! 🌸

    Liked by 1 person

    • I never realized you were a nurse, Amy. I’ll bet you were an excellent one.

      My husband was totally zonked during his colonoscopy, and for the whole rest of the day afterwards. He didn’t even remember the doctor coming in to speak to us. That’s the normal reaction for most people, I believe.

      Liked by 1 person

      • AmyRose🌹 says:

        Yes, friend, I was an excellent nurse until fate give me a wake-up call and I had a serious back injury on the job. My history was changed forever from that day. Unfortunately, I will not go back to my career because from one day to the next I do not know what my back will be like. I also, have had much heartache and problems with medicine that today leaves me very mistrusting of it. That is a long story… Or should I say stories? …


        • Ah, I knew you had hurt your back, but I didn’t know how. No need to go back to it. You have enough in your life as it is, what with your husband, your critters, your gardening and your photography. Oh, and your blogging, of course!

          Liked by 1 person

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