"No sedation, No Pain, No Problem"

About: University Hospital Lewisham / Colorectal surgery

(as the patient),

I had a colonoscopy (my first) at Lewisham Hospital in December 2009. I had read all the horror stories and was seriously worried, especially as I was intent on having no sedation. I was also worried about the embarrassment of having people examine and invade my anus, and, as an older person, was concerned about a female doctor doing it.

The bowel prep, which I read on the Internet was a dreadful experience, was very easy. I followed the dietary instructions to the letter before using the Picolax and Senna. No problem. I followed the tip to use vaseline as a barrier cream inside and around the anus to prevent soreness and to use moist tissue instead of normal toilet paper.

I was treated so well at the hospital that I never felt any twinge of embarrassment and forgot the doctor was female. She respected my wish for no sedation but said it was available should I need it. I did have IV analgesic but never needed sedation.

The screen was turned so I could watch, I was asked to lie on my left side and after lubricating my anus the doctor inserted the scope slowly and carefully; I saw the picture as the scope entered and watched as it progressed right round my colon until I could see where my appendix was.

At no time did I feel any pain whatsoever, a very mild feeling of needing to pass wind, and, at times a full feeling. I could tell where it was but was surprised how little I felt. On exiting the doctor looped the scope to see the final few inches from the inside, although she said it might be uncomfortable I felt no pain and have a wonderful picture printed of the outside world from a different angle.

The doctor explained what was on the screen and whilst not an 'enjoyable experience' I felt content, comfortable and safe at all times. The 30 minute procedure passsed very quickly and I was able to change position easily to assist the procedure. I would rate it less stressful than a tooth extraction.

The doctor printed out some pictures of my insides for me which will be great to bring out at dinner parties.

There were two nurses present, one of whom continually looked after me and made sure I was comfortable.

After the procedure I had no discomfort, other than a little wind.

My advice to anyone offered the procedure is to go for it, don't worry, don't be embarrassed; but don't feel you can't ask questions or make decisions. If I need it again I will not have sedation and may even skip the analgesic.

Life is too precious to risk - get it done! Don't be put off by reading adverse comments - it is 30 minutes that could save your life.

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