Thursday, 14 March 2013

My Afternoon at the Hospital

Had a bit of a day today. For around 20 years I've had a hiatus hernia which has been well controlled with medication. However over the last year or so the medication wasn't working as well and I've suffered indigestion, pain, difficulty swallowing, fullness and wind. I went to my GP and she referred me for a gastroscopy. I went for that today. I had made the mistake of reading what people said about the procedure on the Internet and was quite nervous and determined to have sedation so I would be a bit out of it - I'm not brave lol! I thought I'd write honestly about my experience here to help others who may need the go through the procedure themselves one day.

I had nothing to eat or drink before my appointment as instructed. After arrival I was taken through to a room and there had an interview with a nurse and she checked details and did basic tests such as blood pressure, blood oxygen, etc.  I then was seen by the consultant, a very handsome, dark, foreign man and he explained the procedure.  He said the examination would take about five minutes and I ended up suddenly being inexplicably brave and said I would have the throat numbing spray instead of the sedation! Maybe I was so given courage by the stunning doctor lol!

I went through to the room where they would do the procedure.  I was greeted by two lovely nurses who chatted away to me, we ended up talking about shoes! The doctor introduced me to a young woman who was a junior doctor just there to observe and learn.  I was sat on the bed and the doctor sprayed the numbing spray at the back of my throat throat.  It was very bitter in taste (I had been fore-warned) and worked quickly and it felt bizarre not to feel anything when I swallowed.

I had to lay on the bed on my left side, one nurse stood behind me and kind of held me, every now and then she gave me a pat which was nice, little things like that mean a lot when you are a bit scared and vulnerable. I think another role she would have had would have been to hold me as still as possible if I'd struggled! The other nurse was on my left by my head with suction just like you have at the dentist which she used occasionally.  A gag with a round hole was put into my mouth and tied round the back of my head with bandage.

Then the doctor inserted the endoscope through the hole in the gag and down my oesophagus.  He didn't mess around and it was momentarily quite uncomfortable as it went down. I was conscious of it there, but it wasn't too unpleasant.  I felt a slight sensation of fullness when they expanded the stomach with gas. The doctor then had a look around my stomach and duodenum. It was really weird because I did have a sensation of something moving about in me. Again it was occasionally uncomfortable but not painful.  The doctor was explaining things to the junior doctor and I was trying to listen but the two nurses were talking so I didn't catch a lot of the conversation.  As the consultant and machine were behind me I couldn't see my insides, I would have quite liked to! He took a couple of photos with the machine.

Then the doctor quickly removed the endoscope and the procedure was over. I gave a massive set of burps as the scope came out because of the gas they had put in and there was a lot of gurgling lol!

I was immediately told that my problem was, as I'd thought, my hiatus hernia. It was very large and accounted for all the physically symptoms I was experiencing.  He said to double my medication and that I'd probably need an operation to sort out the problem.  Not the best of news, but it could have been much worse. He will contact my GP. I was then free to leave and that was that!

I called my friend to come to pick me up - she was shocked to hear from me so soon as I'd told her I would be having sedation and would need picked up late afternoon. She soon arrived and took me home, and, bless her, had brought me some soup (that she was going to heat up for me thinking I may not be able to eat much at first) and my fave coffee creams as a treat. She's a pretty amazing friend :).

I have few after effects from the procedure, the numbness soon wore off and I have slightly sore throat and wind lol! Everyone I saw was wonderful, pleasant and professional. None of my examination cost me anything and if I do have an operation that will be free too. Our National Health Service is a wonderful thing, I'm one of the lucky generation, born a few years after it was created and so it has looked after me all my life so far, and I, as a nurse for over 30 years was also part of that NHS, so it is very dear to my heart. I hope that it can survive by adapting to the modern day needs of the population, it's too special and precious to lose.


  1. I'd had two gastroscopies myself and immediately lived through them again while reading your account. Glad to hear it wasn't too unpleasant! :-) My first one went just as you described yours; for the second one I took the sedation and was completely knocked out the moment it was applied. I couldn't remember anything of the procedure itself but when I came to I found myself sitting somewhat befuddled on a chair in the waiting room with Chris by my side. A bit strange but not too bad. ;-)

  2. Yes, I think I would probably have the sedation if I had to have another Andy! ;)