Tag Archive for: colonoscopy

What happens during a colonoscopy?

This is one question that I often get asked, that may seem like an odd thing to ask someone but as I am sometimes seen as the voice of poo I get a LOT of poo based questions!!

So you have been told you need to have a camera up your bum and it is TERRIFYING! The reason you are having the test is diagnostic, so doctors can take a look inside your colon.  The actual reason can be so varied but usually because there has been unusual activity, diarrhoea, bleeding, mucus, incontinence etc.

Not only are you dealing with the worry of what they will find (and I know we all assume cancer, and though that can be the case, there are SO many other reasons you are having problems, so don’t scare yourself into hysterics before you get any results!). But many people feel embarrassed to discuss with others and the thought of someone looking up your bum is just mortifying.  This happens with ‘poo diseases’, if you were suspected to have diabetes and were going for blood tests, you shouldn’t feel any shame but because it is from the bottom, it can feel ridiculously embarrassing.

Just remember that these medical professionals do this every day.  They will not be embarrassed, they won’t be giggling or thinking what an odd shaped bottom you have! They see thousands of bums a year and I promise you, they are not judging you!

So what happens? Firstly let me say, I am not medically trained and this is my experience of having many colonoscopies over the past 11 years.  It is really important that if you have any specific medical questions that you speak to your doctor.

Which type?

Well there are a few different ‘up the bum’ cameras.

Flexible Sigmoidoscopy

This is used to look at the inside of the large intestine from the rectum through to the sigmoid but not sufficient  in the ascending or transverse colon (two-thirds of the colon).

Rigid Sigmoidoscopy

This is a procedure done to look at the rectum and lower colon.


This is an examination of the large bowel and the end part of the small bowel with a camera on a flexible tube passed through the anus.

Colonoscopy is similar to sigmoidoscopy—the difference being related to which parts of the colon each can examine. A colonoscopy allows an examination of the entire colon. A sigmoidoscopy allows an examination of the distal portion (about 600 mm) of the colon.

sigmoidoscopy colonoscopy colon


A Pouchoscopy is a procedure to examine the lining of your ileo-anal pouch for any inflammation, abnormal growths or tissue.  This is for people who have had their bowels removed and a ‘jpouch’ or ileoanal anastomosis formed.

j pouch pouchoscopy


The colon must be completely clear of poo for the test to be performed properly. For a few days, you may be  required to follow a low fiber diet and on the day before the scope, you will be given a laxative preparation.

There are different types of bowel prep but all of them have the intention of clearing EVERYTHING out.  Most require you to drink the medication mixed with a lot of water.  It can be really difficult to stomach this but it is vital you complete all the medication given to you.  It will be explained to you how to take your type of medication but if you have any questions, then do speak to your doctor.

You will want to stay at home and close to the toilet once you start your bowel prep.  Trust me on this one, STAY CLOSE to the loo!

colonoscopy prep lol


What next?

Once you get to the hospital, it is necessary to remove your clothes and change into a gown before the procedure.  You will be taken through to the room where there may be a few medical folk in the room.  You will be asked to get on the examination table and lay on your side with your knees up towards your chest, the back of your gown is open to the doctor.

Some people choose to have sedation to help them through the procedure.  In my own experience I could handle the pouchoscopy and sigmoidoscopies without sedation, there was very minimal discomfort.  But for the colonoscopy, I have the sedation as the camera is going further into the colon and I personally struggled without.  You could also be offered gas and air. Speak to your doctor beforehand to decide what (if any) pain relief is needed.

If you have the sedation, you will generally have a canula inserted into a vein for the sedative to be pushed through into your blood stream, once it goes in, it acts very quickly and you may feel light headed and like you are a bit drunk!  You should feel relaxed and perhaps sleepy and in a  dreamlike state.

You may also have a clip on your finger to keep check on your pulse and perhaps a blood pressure cuff.  Staff are with you all the way through, at every scope I have had, there has been a nurse to sit by me and speak to me throughout the procedure.

The first step is usually a digital rectal examination, where the doctor inserts a finger into your anus. The endoscope is then passed through the anus, up the rectum into the colon.The endoscopes have multiple channels for instrumentation, air, suction and light etc.

Colonoscopy position



The bowel is expanded with air to maximise visibility, this can feel uncomfortable and make you have the sensation that you need to poo.  As you lay on your side, you may be able to see the screen the the doctor watches so they can see in real time the inside of your colon, some people may not want to watch the screen but I find it really interesting.

Biopsies may be taken during the procedures, watching this on the screen you see a claw type instrument that ‘grabs’ a section of the inside of the colon and pulls back to remove a tiny biopsy.  Though this isn’t painful, you can feel a little tug from inside which can feel odd.

The whole thing (depending on which scope you have) lasts between 10 and 40 minutes.  Afterwards, some recovery time is usually allowed to let the sedative wear off.  Most doctors require that patients have a person with them to help them home afterwards especially if you have had sedation.

One very common aftereffect is a bout of flatulence and minor wind pain caused by the air that is pumped into the colon during the procedure.  It can feel like you are really full up with wind and the only way to remove it is by passing wind.  You may have a little stomach ache afterwards or perhaps be sleepy after the sedation, it is good to rest for a day or so.

As with any medical procedure there are always the potential for complications, these aren’t common but could include; an adverse reaction to the sedative used during the exam, bleeding from the site where a tissue sample (biopsy) was taken or a polyp or other abnormal tissue was removed or a tear in the colon or rectum wall (perforation).  Your doctor will explain all the risks before you sign the consent form.

colonoscopy sigmoidoscopy

So there we go, I hope this post has helped answer a few questions.  Just remember that it’s a medical procedure, I know it can feel upsetting and embarrassing but it is necessary.  The idea of this blog came from me wanting to #StopPooBeingTaboo and this is why I feel it important to talk about these sorts of issues.  We are told that it is impolite to speak of body fluids and bottoms but it is the social embarrassment and fear that stop people seeking medical help.  The quicker you seek help, the better it is for your health.

If you have any more questions or other aspects of life with IBD that you would like me to post about, feel free to comment below or message me through my Facebook or twitter.

Sam xx


Day two in hospital

Day two starts Nil by Mouth, not the awesome film with Kathy Burke but with me not eating or drinking. It’s not too much of a hardship as my appetite has bottomed out anyway (no pun intended!) So I’m not eating as they let me know Id be having my colonoscopy today.


So after god awful bowel prep I headed down for the camera. I had sedation which is like going sober to pissed in 30 seconds. The camera showed what was expected – active inflammation in my bowel which is open ulcers, bleeding and general soreness.

I had a sleep after and then had a bath as I felt grubby. I managed to pull out my canula whilst in the bath which was fun and meant I needed another put in. I then had more bloods taken – 9 tubes in total this time!! I think I’m secretly feeding all the vampires in Sheffield!


My sister and brother in law skyped me from Australia which was fab and really raised my spirits. Andy told me how since I started blogging he is only just realising what my disease means. He expressed his guilt of not knowing more but I just think it means the blog is working! I want to raise awareness, I want people to know more and be able to talk honestly about this shitty disease!

The IBD nurse has been to see me and has had a thorough and honest chat about surgery. She brought me loads of literature and some ileostomy bags to look at. My surgical consultation has been brought forward. It was meant to be next Tuesday but the surgeon is coming to see me tomorrow now. I don’t know what this means on a time scale thing. I suppose it’s a wait and see what he thinks. Whether he thinks surgery is right for me. Ill update tomorrow.

I’m feeling rough today and a bit sorry for myself. I’m trying to keep chipper and I’m posting quite a lot on Facebook. I hope it’s not becoming too annoying!!

The view from my hospital ward of Sheffield

I was going through my list of meds with my sister and I think she’s a bit shocked. I’m currently having

4 lots of IV steroids a day
8 tablets of mesalazine
2 mesalazine suppositories
1 prednisolone suppository
2 calcium tablets (to counteract the osteoporosis that can be a side effect of steroids)
1 injection of blood thinner (I’m at a higher risk of blood clots)

I’m also having my blood sugar checked daily to deal with the steroids side effects and have the awful task of a stool chart. Which means every time I have a poo, I have to do it in a pan that I then give to a nurse like a present. They then have the unenviable task of examining, weighing and writing a chart on each poo!! So glamorous!!! At the minute due to me not really eating I’m just passing large amounts of blood which makes the whole task so much more grim!

I’m aware this is probably too much information for some but this is an IBD blog and its important to me to speak honestly.

It’s hard to maintain your dignity when you are pooing in a cardboard box. Or when you are on the receiving end of an enema. Or having a camera put up your arse. And to be honest, I’m finding it difficult to write about. I keep thinking about people reading this and I feel embarrassed and mortified that you’ll know these things. But if I can’t be honest on a blog about Ulcerative Colitis then where can I be?

All I keep thinking is that if this helps one person, then it’s worth the embarrassment.

Some great gifts from my IBD Team!

I’m posting this early today as I’m trying to catch up on rest. I’m feeling exhausted and no better yet. I’ve just had a message from the lovely Corinne (AKA Motherscuffer/Motherhood Journeys – google her awesome blog as I can’t figure out how to do links from my iPhone!!!) She is coming to visit me this evening so that’s going to cheer me up no end!!!

I just want to say thank you once again to Caroline and Kay for looking after my kids and to everyone who has sent me messages, texts, emails, phone calls and Skype – every message makes this whole thing a tiny bit easier. It really lifts my spirits so thank you so so much.

As always, please feel free to comment and share my blog with anyone you think it could help.

Much love

Sam xxx