Surviving an Endoscopy

In an attempt to be able to give some relief to those who may be in the same boat as me, I want to document a procedure that I had recently: an upper endoscopy.

Some background: After having years of dealing with nausea, I was diagnosed with acid reflux in 2007, and I have been on Aciphex ever since. It really helped to heal the nausea symptoms until recently. At the end of the school year, I started having some serious nausea again (no, I am not/was not pregnant). I attributed it to the end-of-the-year stress, as it went away once the summer started. Well, it started up again, and I decided I needed to go to a specialist. He recommended having an upper endoscopy and an ultrasound.

What is an endoscopy? Well, I get rather grossed out easily (I only recently had my blood drawn for the first time), so I will only go into a little detail. I truly didn’t want to know lots of details. In an endoscopy, they pass a small tube down your throat into your stomach. They can take samples for biopsies during the procedure.

The prep: I was told that I could not eat or drink after midnight the night before. That also meant that I could not take my Aciphex pill. This was a source of anxiety for me, as I need to have my bland breakfast and pill as part of my morning routine. On mornings where I do not eat or take my pill, I can feel the acid building up, and the nausea starting. The night before my procedure, I was a good little patient, though, and ate up until I went to sleep at 10:30. I usually don’t do this, but I thought that it would be helpful for this situation. I didn’t want to feel any more nervous or shaky on the day of the procedure.

Arrival: Tim drove me to the appointment that morning, as I would not be allowed to drive after the procedure was over. When we got there that morning, I had to fill out paperwork, including a form that said that I would not drive or sign legal documents for the rest of the day. At that point, I chuckled, thinking: What kind of drugs are they going to give me? They attached my plastic medical bracelet with my information on it.


After all of the forms were filled out, I waited. And waited. I saw others that were waiting get called back. Then I would see family members get called back, re-enter the waiting room and leave to pull cars around to pick up the patients. At this point, I started to get nervous. I wasn’t all-out shaking yet, but butterflies were buzzing all around in my stomach.

Prepping in “The Big Room”: Finally, they called me back. I started to go back while Tim wished me luck. I almost left without looking back at him, but then my superstition got the best of me, and I ran back to give him a kiss.

They took me to a very large room with curtains separating the patients. Eek! I did not want to be able to see anyone or have anyone see my nervousness. They brought me to my own little area, had me lay on the bed, and they closed the curtain. I asked the nurse if, as soon as they gave me the IV, I would fall asleep. She responded that I would. Phew, at least I wouldn’t have to pay attention to that needle in my arm.

Then, she had me get into the dressing gown and asked to see my arm. Ok, I thought, I am going to be going to sleep in just a second. I must have said something to her about that, because she corrected me that, no, I was not going to sleep yet. Um, I thought you just said that I would go to sleep once the needle entered my arm! She told me that I still needed to talk to the doctor and the anesthesiologist first. I must have started to look nervous, because at this point, she assured me that I wouldn’t even feel the prick of the needle to get the IV started. I then assured her that it wasn’t the pain that I was worried about. I simple cannot stand the idea of a needle going in my arm AND STAYING IN. Yes, I knew it would come out eventually, but I don’t like the idea of it just hanging out there under my skin. Ick!

Then, as I was waiting in my little section, I overheard the gentleman next door talk to the nurses. He was getting a colonoscopy (poor man!), and he was also very nervous about the IV needle. Phew, it’s not just me! They tried one arm and couldn’t get a good spot, so they had to go to the other. He was basically talking about every single thing that they were doing: every prick, prodding, and everything to get that needle in. That was certainly not what I needed in my nervous state. I tried square breathing: breathe in, hold, breathe out, hold. Finally, they must have gotten him taken care of, because he was quiet and had been moved out.

Then another lady got moved into that “room.” Guess what? She was nervous about her IV too! And SHE ALSO went through a play-by-play of what they were doing to her. Oh my gosh! Why was I placed next to these people? I don’t want to hear about it. Just stick her in the arm, wheel her away, so I don’t have to hear it.

At this point, although I was laying on the bed, I started shaking. I tried square breathing again. Yep, the shaking continued. I thought of being at the lake, the beach, a cruise, anything else. I couldn’t get that shaking to go away. I must have been absolutely white, so she brought me a cold washcloth for my face. I asked if I could have some oxygen. [When I had my wisdom teeth out years ago, they gave that to me to help calm me down before the IV went in. Side note: it didn’t help, and they had to give me laughing gas to get the needle in my arm.] Nope, I was not having trouble breathing, so no oxygen in The Big Room for me.

Once the IV went in, I put my arm under the sheet. If I couldn’t see it, then the needle wasn’t in there, right? The shaking continued, but the washcloth certainly helped the nausea that had swept over me. I also think that whatever fluids they were giving me helped to calm my nerves. Still, that shaking continued. I also felt a little chilled at this point.

Now that the IV was in, I realized that I really couldn’t feel it at all. I knew it was there (if I thought about it), but there was no feeling associated with it. Could an IV really be not that bad? Was I just really nervous before because of my bad reaction at the dentist all of those years ago? Maybe. Hey, maybe I could do this! The shaking still continued, no matter what I did to try to stop it.

Staff Checking In: In “The Big Room,” whenever someone would come into my room, they would ask for my name and what procedure I was having done. It made me feel pretty good to know that everyone knew I was getting an endoscopy. They made sure that it was me and my info was correct. No medical mix-ups here! I met with about 2 other nurses and the anesthesiologist, just to check that I was good to go. Once that was done, a nurse wheeled me out of that room and into a private room down a long hallway. Ah, there was a radio in this room! No more patients with horrible IV issues!

It’s Time: Once I was in my private room, I started concentrating on the radio. I didn’t care what was on the channel, I was just happy for the distraction. I listened so intently, that I really started to feel calm. The shaking continued, but that radio was a miracle. My doctor came in to check on me. He made some joke that I looked nervous. He could tell because I still had that washcloth over my forehead. I was able to laugh at how ridiculous I probably looked, and that was a good sign. Boy, that radio was so needed for me!

One of the nurses gave me some oxygen for my nose (Oh great, now they give me the oxygen, once I’m doing ok!), and I just got to close my eyes and relax for a few minutes while they prepped around me. I have no idea what they were doing, but I was very relaxed. Finally, a nurse came to me and introduced herself, saying that she will be with me the whole procedure. She asked for me to turn over to my left side, and she let me know that they were going to give me the medicine to put me to sleep (I think it was propathol). She let me know that, although they didn’t warn me, it would sting as it went into my arm. I braced myself for the sting, but it never came. I simply remember the radio getting quieter for about 10 seconds. I specifically remember thinking, Oh, they must be turning down the radio…

All Done: (The rest of the events in the section were just moments that I slightly remember. They occurred in “scenes” that faded as I was regaining consciousness.)The next thing I remember, I opened my eyes to a nurse asking if I wanted a soda or coffee. I asked if I could have just water, as I’m not a soda or coffee drinker at all.

(FADE TO BLACKOUT)

Tim was in the room and I think I had the biggest smile on my face. I asked if it was all over, which (of course) it was. I asked how I did, and he responded. I do not remember what he said.

(FADE TO BLACKOUT)

I had a cup of water in my hand (How did that get there? I thought at the time). Tim was still in the room, and I asked if the doctor had come in to talk to us, as he promised. He had, but I wasn’t awake to remember. I was so proud of myself for being done and doing a good job, and I wanted to document it with a picture. I wanted the picture to have the wires on me. I reached back behind me to get my oxygen, because I wanted that in the picture as well (Someone took away my oxygen!). Tim then stopped me from reaching around and helped me “find” the oxygen (I later found out that when I was reaching back, I was grabbing at my IV, and the oxygen was nowhere to be found. I think he just gave me an unused tube to put near my nose, so I would think it was the oxygen tube…it worked). I asked if they found anything, and he responded. I do not remember what he said.

(FADE TO BLACKOUT)

Tim was gone, and a nurse came in and told me to change out of the gown. How I did that in my delusional state, I have no idea.

(FADE TO BLACKOUT)

The nurse was in my room again, and she asked me to get into the wheelchair. As she wheeled me down the hall, I told her how nice she was. I still had the water in my hand, somehow.

(FADE TO FUZZINESS)

My thoughts: The sun is so bright! How in the world did I get here? These people are so nice! Hey, there’s Tim! Is that his car? These people are so nice! Am I finished?

Yes, I could not think of one thing.

In the Car: Once we were in the car on the way home, I started remembering what was happening. We called my mom, where I learned that everything turned out well, and there were no issues found. My stomach looked good and healthy (“No cancer?” I asked Tim. “No cancer!” he responded). In this drugged-up state, I think I was very worried that they were going to find something. I do remember asking him this question about 3 other times that day and night.

Getting Home: Tim helped me up the stairs and instructed me that I was not allowed to get up for the next 2 hours, and I was absolutely NOT allowed to go down the stairs until lunchtime. I also could not be on Facebook, as he was afraid of what I might type (with good reason). He brought me some toast and water, which tasted amazing. Toby came to cuddle with me, and I tried to go to sleep. I simply could not sleep at all, so I made a date with the second season of Downton Abbey, and I watched just about every episode.

Side Effects: At about 4 PM or so, I started to feel some nausea, and I believe this was probably caused by the procedure and them jumbling everything up in my stomach. It felt like after you vomit, that acidic buildup in your stomach. I tried sitting up, but that didn’t seem to relieve it. Out of the entire experience, that was the only thing that was remotely uncomfortable. I was a bit tired through the day, but I woke up from the experience feeling rested (if not a little dizzy) and very happy. I can see why my mom had said that it was the “best procedure you could have.”

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