Colonoscopy : A Patient's Perspective Of A "Bum Cam"
A Colonoscopy is a procedure in which a camera device is inserted through a patient's anus into their lower intestinal tract, to inspect the large intestine and colon area for any polyps, cancerous growths or other abnormalities. The procedure is carried out by a specialist physician, usually under full anaesthetic, and it usually requires that you are admitted to hospital in the "Day Clinic." You should be able to go home the same day.
Due to the anaesthetic, you will be unable to drive and so you will need someone to take you home.
Note to the squeamish: in order to make the following sequence of events clear, it is necessary to be somewhat graphic in the descriptions.
The events you will go through are as follows:
1. You will be told not to eat or drink anything for 8 hours prior to the procedure EXCEPT:
2. ..You will be given Magnesium Sulphate (Epsom Salts) which you must mix with 140ml (Just over half a cup) of water. You should drink this at least 6 hours before you admit yourself to the hospital day clinic. You have to drink this vile mixture followed by 3 glasses of water.
3. This acts as a purgative. Now a purgative, for those not in the know, is what will give you the runs, so within half an hour of drinking this, you will be on the toilet, and expect to stay there for about 2 to 3 hours! They expect you to go to the loo at least 10 times. Your stool will eventually be running like water.
3. Once this violent purgative slows down, after about 3 to 5 hours, your so called "stool" should be almost clear liquid. This means that your bowels are clear.
4. Once you book yourself into the hospital day clinic, and have signed all the forms, the nurse will again take your blood pressure and pulse.
5. You will be given a hospital gown of the type that fastens at the back with little strings, and hospital underwear, which is one of those "one size fits all" kind of stretchy blue things.
6. Once they are almost ready for you, they will inject you with a "pre-med" in the buttock, which will make you feel a little dizzy. If you feel really bad, and start to sweat, call the nurse immediately, as this means your blood pressure has dropped too much, and she will then take action to make you feel better.
7. After about half an hour, they will take you to the theater, where you will receive another injection in the arm to put you out.
8. The specialist will then inspect your colon, and once he is satisfied, you will be taken back to the ward, where you were, to recover. A drip will be attached to your arm once you are finished.
9. After about another half hour you should wake up.
10. You should be brought tea or coffee and a sandwich once you are awake enough to eat, and once you have eaten and drunk something, the drip will bwe removed from your arm.
11. You can then, if you are feeling OK, get dressed in your clothes again, and your spouse or assistant can drive you home. You shouldn't drive or operate machinery for at least 12 hours after an anaesthetic.
There is very little pain involved: 2 injections which are not that bad, and the inconvenience of the artificial diarrhea that you suffer.
After this procedure, over the next 24 hours, you may suffer from a lot of winds, some stomach cramps and so on, as your system returns to normal. This is nothing to worry about, but it is advisable, for 12 hours or so, to release your winds on the loo. Otherwise you may get more than you bargained for, due to the fact that the magnesium sulphate solution is still draining out of your lower system.
You can eat and drink normally as soon as you leave the hospital.
Apart from this there are no other problems, except for a little tenderness of your lower abdomen, and a feeling of lethagy and slight dizzyness from the anaesthetic.
This is a very useful procedure, and helps the specialist doctors tremendously in early detection of disorders of the colon.