The waiting was over and the prep nurse came to roll my bed to the procedure room. I was a bit cool as I was hungry and thirsty. I'm sure my pulse quickened with nervousness though I did not reconsider my medication decision. I was still committed to a fully conscious scoping.
Once my bed was positioned in the area next to the doctor, the wheels were locked down and the right side was lowered to face the doctor who still had his back to me. The nurse connected several heart monitor pads to my chest and connected leads to them. A pulse/ox placed on my index finge rand she fixed an oxygen tube behind my ears and into my nostrils. I could feel the cool gas as I breathed in deeply. Next an arm cuff on my non-IV arm was setup to read my blood pressure.
The doctor turned to face me and told me that this was his first colonoscopy without anesthesia and he was going to be use more water and less air to make it more comfortable. Other docs in the clinic had done them sober but this was his first. I thanked him for that and said it was my first without drugs as well. They asked me to roll over on my left side and another disposable pad was placed under me. He asked if i wanted to watch and replied that I did. The monitor was angled so that I could get a better view.
The doctor spoke to me throughout the experience, explaining everything they did or where about to do. They had me pull my legs up toward my chest to give them a good shot at my backside. I was given 2 seconds notice before a well lubed, gloved finger was slipped up my rear. That caught me a bit off guard but I knew at some point it was coming. The screen was currently out of focus because the scope was still hanging in a cradle but it soon showed my hairy bottom in great detail before I felt and saw it slip inside of me.
The first sensation was of him navigating the turn just inside the rectum with a little water then air to puff the sigmoid open to snake it deeper. I could feel it shoving farther into me when I finally felt it running up my left side through the descending section. More air and water were used to expand the turn through the splenic flexure to my transverse colon. I could see veins and tissue quite clearly on the monitor. It slithered along easily to the ascending colon. The sensation in my abdomen was oddly interesting, feeling like digestion going the other way. The gas was mostly what caused any discomfort and it was minimal to me.
At the hepatic flexure bend to the ascending colon he had a bit of a problem and had to add more air and water to get that turn. After that he shoved it all the way in and was able to see the cecum and my appendix. He could see the ileo cecal valve and tried to turn toward it. I felt like he was hitting the end of the scope against my rear so it seemed like it was fully in but every time he tried to make the ileo cecal turn, I could feel it expand through the entire length of my colon. I can only imagine it is like trying to shove a garden hose through a section of pipe, the hose kinks up and doesn't go exactly where you want.
He even had one of the nurses press on my stomach to try to get it to go where didn't want to go. That was very odd in that I could feel her press on my left side at the splenic flexure and feel it pushing out at the cecum! Ten years ago at my last colonoscopy, I awoke the next day to a sore belly with bruises in this area. Perhaps that's why most doctors won't do them with the patient awake.
Finally, after a 3rd try and the most discomfort I would experience, he started to thoroughly examine my colon as he removed the scope. I'd rate the pain at a 3 out of 10 if a bee sting was 5 and an enema cramp was a 2. It was just a dull pressure pain.
The scope coming out was quite easy. He indicated the prep at the cecum was not as good, calling it only fair but he was able to wash off foamy green looking slime to see the nice pink colon wall and get a good look. He also took pictures on the way out. At one point they had to put another towel behind me as I suspect some of the water was leaking. Several spots showed a light yellow fluid that he suctioned up and was able to view the colon wall.
The doctor continually explained that it all looked normal and the rest of my colon was very clean. I could sense the muscles in my abdomen as the scope retreated. He examined the length and breadth of my bowels until he reached a point and said he was about to turn it around and examine my rectum. On the screen the image was squirrly for a bit as I felt something wriggling my lowest gut area. Then the view showed a black shaft exiting my sphincter from the inside! He flipped it back around and removed it completely. The scope was done!
The nurse told me she was going to clean me up and then I was rolled over onto my back. They also informed me to let it out as much as possible. The doctor felt my abdomen and said it wasn't tight so I should be OK.
He said that due to the cecum and ascending not being as clean, he wanted to do another one if 5 years. I'm not so sure I'll follow that recommendations but I'm glad I got to see it and I'm glad I wasn't drugged. He also said I was a superhero for doing it without drugs! We both survived our first colonoscopy without medication!
Recovery for me was a breeze. They rolled the bed directly to the row of recliners as I didn't need have the drugs wear off. The nurse let me dress then had me sign out and went over the information. I received two pages of colon images to take with me. Without the drug warnings, no driving, legal decisions, etc, I was free to go.
Total time from rolling into procedure room to walking out the door was approximately 40 minutes. Actual time with a scope inside of me took maybe 20 minutes tops.
To be honest, I should have stayed a few minutes longer and went to the bathroom one more time. I still had a lot of gas inside me and the ride to a late breakfast was a little uncomfortable. Not as bad as the ileo cecal attempt but just a nagging fullness. At Dunkin' Donuts, I went to the toilet and a lot of air escaped and things were much more tolerable for the ride home. I'm glad I had a driver as a few gas bubbles might have made for interesting swerves or panic stops.
I would certainly have a drug free colonoscopy again but I'll probably ask what needs to be done to get the cleanest colon and suggest some enemas or a colonic might be warranted.
I will entertain questions as best I can if you have any.