Tuesday, September 20, 2005

What it feels like to get an endoscopy

When my PA first told me it was something that should be done, I was mildly freaked out. My inner geography is something I’ve always preferred stay something of a mystery. I don’t really want to know what my stomach looks like, let alone someone else. But as the days went on and the appointment approached, I learned how to stop worrying and love the accompanying sedation. After all, my primary-care happens to be a specialist in internal medicine, so I didn’t even have to go elsewhere to have it done.

A technician shepherded me into the preparation room this afternoon and told me to take off my shirt, put on one of those blue smocks, and lie down on the gurney. While I waited my turn with the doctor and the anesthesiologist, the classical music played and we talked about – what else – neighborhoods. She asked me whether where I live is actually Manhattan or feels like it even, and I replied yes and a little bit. No, we don’t get many tourists (except those headed to the Cloisters and the occasional especially devout Catholic who knows where Mother Cabrini is enshrined), but there are still numbered streets. It’s just that if they were degrees, they’d be approaching the boiling point here.

Finally, they opened up the doors to the adjacent room and rolled me in. My doctor and the anesthesiologist greeted me and told me what to expect. The only bit of pain was when they put the IV in my arm, and that was slight. They rolled me onto my side, inserted a plastic mouthpiece, and turned out the lights in the room. I felt a slight not-unpleasant tingling throughout my body, and then I was out.

When I awoke, it felt like I’d just woken up from a nap. It had been less than half an hour. I sat up from the gurney, then put my shirt and shoes back on and talked with the technician again. I thanked her as if she had been the one to make the procedure so painless, and realized I was acting like I was a little drunk. But by the time the doctor came in to speak with me later, I was almost back to normal and feeling fine, if a bit hungry. (I hadn’t eaten and drank anything for 12 hours – 6 of which had been prescribed to me.)

The good news was that my stomach looked normal, but the inherent bad news was that if I continue to feel persistent pain, they need to find some other explanation. I’m just hoping that the sample pills they gave me work and make whatever it is that’s bothering me go away entirely. I made an appointment for two weeks from now and left.

For more on the upper endoscopy procedure, the NIH has a site explaining things.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I had it done today, chose the throat spray to get up and go after the nurse said there isn't really a big difference between the two! let me tell you it was one of the most horrible experiences in my life, it felt like I was being tortured in one of those camps, I stopped breathing twice and nearly passed out...my advice to anyone who is about to have it done, never ever chose the throat spray.