I Got Scoped. Twice! 

My 2021 included a personal medical safari through hematology to treat a life-threatening anemia, gastroenterology to find the source, and close monitoring with my GP to manage it all.

The hematologist gave me a series of infusions to reverse the anemia and iron deficiency. Based on my labs, extreme fatigue, and family history the gastroenterologist recommended a colonoscopy and upper endoscopy (EGD). Yikes!

None of these doctors have poker faces. They were clearly worried that I had one or more doomsday bombs ticking away in my body.

My GI consult

I met the gastroenterologist in her office for an examination and detailed family history. We also discussed the procedures. Satisfied that I was stable enough for anesthesia she put me on the books.

What happens during colonoscopy and EGD?

During a colonoscopy an endoscopist uses a small camera mounted within a thin flexible tube to access the colon through the rectum. An EGD starts at the mouth and concludes in the small intestine. Both procedures may include biopsies and the removal of small masses.

Colonoscopy and EGD require preparation

The patient’s colon must be empty and clean for a successful colonoscopy. Your doctor will advise you about using your prep kit and the exact time you must stop eating and drinking. An EGD is less involved, but is just as serious.

Hospital intake

The hospital or endoscopy center will call you for an anesthesiology screening. During the call, a specially trained nurse will make sure you have stopped any meds that might cause bleeding, ask about your prescriptions, and discuss recreational drug use. It’s important to keep your appointed arrival time and be honest with the team about how well your preparation went because your preparation determines how well the endoscope can see.

The procedures

The team will review your medications, place electrodes, track your blood pressure, and might do a urine test. The anesthesiologist will check you over and get your consent. And then it’s show time.

Recovery time

You’ll wake up in a recovery room and have something to drink. Your endoscopist will give you a summary of the procedure and advise about next steps.

The benefits

The glorious relief of ruling out colorectal and gastric cancer and other serious conditions made the hassle and dehydration headache worth it! I went home secure in the knowledge that I would likely put anemia and deficiencies behind me.

Insider tips

Speak with your doctor about low-volume colonoscopy preparation. Drinking a gallon of goo is terrible. And you deserve nice things. DO NOT choose an alternative method on your own. It’s not safe.

Use separate bags for shoes and clothes. Hospital-acquired infections can be serious. Even the cleanest hospital is not without risk.

Use 2 gowns, one in each direction, to stay warm and keep covered.

Keep an eye on the clock the night before to get a few last sips in before the deadline. That way you’ll have urine for any intake testing.

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