A Flexible Sigmoidoscopy Experience: Fear of a Perforated Bowel

The doctor sent me to the hospital to get a hemorrhoid removed, but once there they decided that I needed a Flexible Sigmoidoscopy. I was really anxious about it because they kept referring to it as a polyp, the removal of which is what lead to the death of my Mother. But I knew it was unlikely something would happen and really needed it gone. I was also a bit afraid of why they were sending me as Google says it can be to check for Cancer.

Flexible Sigmoidoscopy doctor

Preparing for the Flexible Sigmoidoscopy

The Covid-test before going into hospital was fun and so didn’t really help with my anxiety. Plus my letter finally came after I had my Covid-test. This had information such as getting my covid-test, about the gas and air and how to do an enema. On the leaflet it explained that they could remove a polyp during the flexible sigmoidoscopy and this made me confident that it might be frightening but that at least I was getting things sorted.

The Enema

Unfortunately the instructions for the enema did not match up with what I had been sent. I had five packets. Two that mixed together (A and B) and a laxative. I asked nursing friends and one said some instructions on what to do but not why I had been sent the laxative as well. Thinking that it was best to find out for definite what I should do I tried calling the hospital.

The Call about the Enema

Finally I was able to find someone to speak to about it and she said it was a mistake. That not to worry just come to the hospital early and a nurse would give me the correct enema. To bring the packs I had been sent with me. Otherwise I was welcome to come and collect one to do myself. This wasn’t really an option though as I needed to self-isolate!

Thinking about the Past

In the run up to the Flexible Sigmoidoscopy I had had terrible anxiety. Sleeping loads. It made me think about so many things to do with my Mom. Was she conscious when she had it done? And the fact that one of my teens wasn’t much younger than my own brother when we lost our Mom.

Fighting the urge not telling everyone who means something to me that I love them before I went in. In fact I was such a mess that my husband told me that I didn’t have to go through with it. But I thought it signified the end of my problem. It was interfering with my quality of life. It often feels like broken glass stabbing into me. There’s times during family walks I am in so much pain I just can’t go on.

There was also the fact that it was very unlikely to go wrong. It was unlikely when it happened to my Mom, never mind to happen twice. Lots of friends had told me that they had it done too. I just needed to be brave!

The Flexible Sigmoidoscopy Hospital Appointment

So we ended up getting to the hospital an hour early instead of the 30 minutes. I read you should do the enema an hour before so thought it better to go straight in. After the receptionist had said that would be fine I sent my husband home. There didn’t seem any point in him hanging around.

There was a form I had to fill in and I did this then read my book. Time ticked on and no-one came for me. Loads of people who arrived after went on through. I just knew that I wasn’t going to be called until after my appointment time!

More Confusion

Sure enough ten minutes after my appointment time a nurse called me through. She checked some details but mostly about whether I needed sedation. Of course the answer was no, and I explained about my needle phobia and my mother’s death. She confirmed like a gazillion times that I just needed gas and air then.

The receptionist had written something on top of my notes about the enema and I explained what had happened. According to her I should have taken the things I was sent through the post. She explained that she could do an enema now. However, that they may not be able to remove any polyps today.

She went off to speak to someone and came back. We had to finish filling out the form. On it was written about how they may have to remove a polyp or do banding. The nurse had also called it a haemorrhoid and I was unsure whether that’s just what it is or because she was trying to make me feel calmer. There had been some crying up to this point.

The Enema Itself

Then she explained about what to do in regards the enema, inserted it and went. It wasn’t as bad as I had anticipated actually having it but, oh my days there’s no way I could lie there for 10 minutes! The nurse had said try to lie there for 5 to 10 minutes. But the toilet, just a little way across the room, felt SO far! I was worried if I couldn’t make it and would get poo all over the floor!!!

I was able to hold this for 4 ½ minutes lying down and then decided that I would just try to hold it in whilst on the toilet for the over half a minute. Yeah that didn’t happen. But then I was super anxious that I had done it wrong and wasn’t all cleared out. Of course the nurse had gone for privacy!

Cleaning Myself Up

Luckily I bought my packet of wipes with me as there was only toilet roll to clean myself up. When the nurse came back I had had the urge to go to the toilet again! Then by the time I was ready I had lost my nurse!

The Flexible Sigmoidoscopy Itself

It all seemed very hurried. I guess they were working on a Sunday and, me not already having had my enema, had already pushed things back a bit. There was a place on the trolley underneath me for my things. I had been given a bag to put my clothes in which made sense that they would be kept clean under there.

To be honest the whole experience of the flexible sigmoidoscopy itself was rather traumatic – to the point where I couldn’t speak during or even afterwards. The doctor I recall telling me that I needed to relax as I was rather tight before he even started. Not only had I explained to him about my Mom but there seemed to be no gas and air on offer at all! All I could do was concentrate on my breathing. I have never been so grateful to have tried yoga!

downward dog on the beach

Breathing Through It

The whole time I just concentrated on my breathing. Someone (probably a spam caller) was ringing me at one point and my watch and phone just kept going off. The nurse I think said something too – including that I had to slow my breathing down. Yes it was uncomfortable and parts I would say hurt a bit – but nothing I couldn’t breathe through. But knowing that this could cause a nick and lead to my death, whilst just breathing, was a lot for me to try and relax about.

At one point I had to stop myself from screaming at them to just stop! Honestly I am not sure how I didn’t. It must have been not long afterwards that it was over.

All Finished

When the doctor had finished looking he just took it out and was like, “all done,” like that was it. Words just would not form. Hoping I was wrong but knowing that literally all he had done is looked! It was still there, it felt like the whole traumatic experience was for nothing. He did explain that he had only found a polyp or polyps inside. But nothing that needed removing by the sounds of things. So the fantastic news is I don’t have Cancer. But until being called for this there was never any suggestion that I did!

The nurse asked me if I wanted to stay on the trolley a bit and I was just broken, I couldn’t move speak or anything. What I needed to say to the doctor is, “aren’t you going to put a band on it?” But before I knew it the bed was in recovery. Where no-one had curtains round and I just saw the sharps bucket and the nurse with a needle.

“She’s had nothing done,” someone said. And I knew they needed the trolley back. Some guy came to encourage me out but it was welcome. I got changed and had to wait in the coffee area until called to go through it. He said that he was unsure why it would say anything would be removed as that’s a different “list”. That now they “knew” what it was I could just come to clinic for the bands.

The Aftermath of a Flexible Sigmoidoscopy

My notes say it is a stage two haemorrhoid. Not having heard anything to suggest it will be removed I rang the consultant’s secretary to find out what was happening. She told me that my notes are waiting for review but that I would only be written to if they felt something was serious. So it does not seem like I am even getting bands!

Since all this I have had pain down my one side. It feels like my hip is broken or something (probably an overreaction). Anyway yesterday I finally went for a massage. My therapist spent half an hour working on it and I am still really tight. I need to go back again on Tuesday. She says that this will have contributed to it.

5 thoughts on “A Flexible Sigmoidoscopy Experience: Fear of a Perforated Bowel”

  1. Oh my goodness, what a traumatic experience. So sorry to hear it was like that for you. I had the exact same thing done a few years ago and found it a remarkably good experience, considering what was actually being done. But obviously I didn’t have your family history and fear, so it’s understandable why it felt so hard for you.
    Thank goodness they didn’t find anything scary for you. x

    Reply

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