by David Fowler
I admit, I was a little nervous. At 43 I’d never been put under full anaesthetic and didn’t know what to expect for my first gastroscopy. Yes, after nearly two years of waiting due to a shortage of gastroenterologists in Kelowna, I was finally getting the gold standard test for Celiac Disease.
What is a gastroscopy? It is an examination of the esophagus, stomach, and duodenum with a long snake like instrument called an endoscope.
My appointment was early in the morning, and I was not to eat or drink after midnight. Not too difficult.
Once I checked in to the hospital as an out-patient, a volunteer lead me to a prep area, which was complete with a stretcher and privacy curtain. She asked me to remove my shirt and put on the gown with the straps backwards. I couldn’t for the life of me figure out how to tie up the gown when the straps were at the back, but there was sufficient material that it then stuck managed to stick together with out tying it up.
A few moments later a nurse came by. She took my pulse and blood pressure. Sidenote: The pulse machine involved a clip on one my fingers. There was a beep from the machine behind me for each heartbeat. When she left the room I tried to relax myself to see how much I could slow down my heart.
After the basic tests, the nurse hooked up an IV. At first they would just be putting in some fluid, but later they’d use the apparatus to apply the anaesthetic. Once the IV was in they put the nostril oxygen on me. The next step was to wheel me into the procedure room. I waited about 45 minutes before that occurred.
Once in the procedure room, they turned on the oxygen which was surprisingly refreshing. I can understand why the Japanese are into those “Air Bars”. Next I was positioned on my side with my head slightly pointed to the ground. A big plastic O ring was placed in my mouth to guide the endoscope. The next thing I heard was “shall I apply the anaesthetic doctor?” Within 10 seconds I was out and the next thing I knew I was waking up in recovery.
It was surprisingly easy. No sore throat, just a lot of grogginess from the anaesthetic. The anaesthetic makes you legally impaired for 8 hours so you must have a ride home. Fortunately my wife stayed for the two hour procedure, and helped guide my wobbly legs down the hallway. The volunteers offered to take a cell number should your driver be off site, An hour after the procedure I was allowed to eat and drink normally again.
In four weeks I’ll have an appointment to follow-up with the gastroentrologist to review the results and go from there.
A big thanks to the staff and volunteers at Vernon Jubilee Hospital.