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Sigmoidoscopy without Sedation



Have you ever had a procedure that typically requires sedation, done without sedation? Sounds cra-cra, doesn't it? I hadn't either until I required a sigmoidoscopy while pregnant with baby boy. Most people don't get a colonoscopy until they're 50, but those of us who suffer with IBD know it's just part of the deal, so needless to say, I've had countless. They have to monitor the activity somehow. When I speak of "activity," I am referring to inflammation, any ulcers and polyps that might be in the colon. Yes, crohnies are at an increased risk of getting colon cancer, which is one reason these oscopies (I think I just made up a word) are performed, but it's also routine to see what else could be going on back there.


This last time, the doctors concurred that just a partial look at my colon would suffice, so I was scheduled for a sigmoidoscopy at roughly 6 months into my pregnancy. I immediately started worrying about being pregnant and having anesthesia administered. Pregnancy itself is a constant myriad of thoughts of "what ifs." The thought, however, never even crossed my mind there would be an option NOT to be sedated. I'm no wimp, but I feel there's a reason medical procedures are accompanied with sedation. Doctors will say, it might be a little "uncomfortable" without sedation, but what they really mean is that it's gonna hurt. I was flaring the first six months of pregnancy this time around. After months of nightly enemas, along with my current medication list of balsalazide and two suppositories, things were still acting a bit funky. Funky enough for the doctors to want to take a look to see what was really going on.


Anyways, back to procedures without sedation. Choosing sedation while pregnant is a very personal decision, and honestly if I were in the same boat again, I'm not sure what I would do. I almost think the stress of the pain endured might affect the baby more than a possible dip in oxygen levels (which is incredibly rare). At any rate, I didn't want to mess around and cause ANY potential harm to the baby. I talked myself up, my husband gave me words of encouragement and thought, I got this. What doesn't kill us makes us stronger, right? Right, but boy, I think I reached my threshold here. I could handle the insertion of the tube back there (also known as butt, buttocks, bum, booty, tail, dairy air), but once they got inside, I could feel every painstaking twist and turn they had to make. I've had two natural births, so the only comparison to the amount of pain I experienced on this particular day was that it mimicked pain felt during labor (except other end). It only lasted ten minutes, but that's a long time while screaming and holding a stranger's hand. Jeez, 10 seconds was a long time. I even shed a few tears, and I'm not a crier.


The nurse happened to have Crohn's disease as well, so that did help a little. We swapped stories while I was on the gurney, and she and my doctor coached me through it. I love my GI doctors, but can we also give a shout out to all our wonderful nurse friends/family, etc. out there! I'm amazed by the amount of compassion and care I've received throughout the years from a variety of nurses. They can truly ease the pain of an otherwise traumatic experience. That being said, that glob of blood on the blanket was five attempts to put the IV in. It happens every time because I have such tiny veins. I felt pretty terrible for this young lady because I could tell she was struggling. Believe me, I understand determination and wanting to stick (no pun intended) to it, but it's okay to ask someone else for help:)


My message here is to ask questions, and when you're done with those questions, ask more questions. There is no such thing as a dumb question, and I've said it before, knowledge is power. You have to be your own advocate for the best outcome possible. It's not that I went into the procedure blind, but I do regret not getting all of the information I would need to make the best informed decision possible. Miraculously, things turned around for me again. I avoided prednisone this time as well as switching to a biologic. I know it's still in my future, but this girl is going to keep on fighting!


Have any of you out there (with, or without Crohn's) had a procedure done without sedation? If so, I want to hear about your experience.

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