Joining the Camera Club

Well, it’s the morning after the morning before and I am somewhat relieved – in more senses than one!

I won’t go into all the gory details, but there’s been a few problems with the drains in recent months. Eventually, and way too late being a bloke, I went to the doctor and he ordered a colonoscopy. Instantly you think of bowel cancer, despite the reassurances that it’s probably something more benign – and that’s certainly what’s been running through my head for the last few weeks. Happily, at the moment, I can say that I don’t have cancer and that what I do have can be dealt with easily, even if it cannot be cured.

The reason for writing this blog, though, is to set down the experience of a colonoscopy. Google the term and you can find no end of horror stories about how invasive and painful the procedure can be. I don’t doubt that some people found it so, but what follows is my experience and if it helps someone about to go through it for the first time then it’s worth me spending twenty minutes to write it!

The mechanics of colonoscopy are quite simple. They shove a tube with a mobile head up your bum and have a good look around. The process starts two days before the procedure when you have to eat a low fibre diet and take lots of fluids to soften everything up.

BumCam -1 is when the fun really starts. At about 2pm I had to take ten (yes, count ‘em, TEN) Senna tablets. I’m pleased to report that they seemed to have absolutely no effect whatever! No cramps, no rushing to the bog – Nadah! At 5pm I had to take the first Citramag drink. This is a powder that you mix with hot water which makes it fizz all over the place. They really ought to rename this  “Liquid Pickfords”, because it’ll shift anything!! Within the hour the big clearout was under way, although not nearly as bad as I thought it was going to be and nowhere near as awful as a dose of the squitters. You have to have another dose two hours later and a third the following morning. You also have to drink rather a lot and I found the worst bit of it all was pissing like a racehorse for hours on end!

An interrupted night’s sleep and so to the big day!

The admissions procedure is much like going to hospital for anything else. You fill out a form, they check your medical history, pulse, blood pressure, etc.. Now, you can have a colonoscopy with or without sedation. The one thing I can say without any hesitation is TAKE THE DRUGS!

I have to admit that I don’t remember much of the actual procedure. I could feel things going on and I was aware that, at times, it was rather uncomfortable, but the milk of amnesia they pump into you makes it all pass in something of a blur. I do vaguely remember being fascinated by this pink tube on the screen in front of me and having a long and involved conversation with a nurse, but I haven’t got a clue what we were talking about! When it was all done and dusted they asked me how long I thought it had taken. Five to ten minutes I reckoned and I was more than a bit surprised to find that it had been about three quarters of an hour.

Now on to the worst bit! In order to examine the bowel properly they pump it full of air and getting rid of that can be a bit nasty. I suffered rather a lot of cramping, which brought me to a halt several times on the way home while the guts readjusted themselves, followed by several hours of the most outrageous “great and fruitsome flappy woof-woofs”!

The two major deterrents for many people are “will it hurt?” and the embarrassment factor. On the first I’d say Yes – a bit, but it was bearable and worth it. On the second I can completely set anyone’s mind at rest. The staff who do this are not embarrassed by it and neither should you be. In fact the consultant told me that he had done over 9,000 such procedures. (Bet he’s a bundle of laughs at dinner parties!) To them it’s a familiar, and often life-saving, procedure.

I have to do it again in three years, but next time I won’t get in anything like such a state over it!