"Colonoscopy at Gartnaval "

About: Western Infirmary/Gartnavel General / Accident & Emergency Western Infirmary/Gartnavel General / General Surgery

(as the patient),

Last month I was dropped off at Gartnavel Hospital to have a routine colonoscopy, this was following up a previous internal bleeding incident a few weeks earlier. The night before the colonoscopy I had to endure drinking several litres of some horrible liquid designed to help to clean out the contents of stomach, rectum etc. It was nasty and effective although even at the end I was finding countless seeds. Makes me wonder about the point of eating seeded bread if none of them are digested!

At Gartnavel I was very well looked after by compassionate nurses who made me feel comfortable, gave me a sedative and let me know the person due to carry out the procedure usually got the job done quickly. It was put to me that it was good that the procedure was being carried out by someone who usually got the job done in 20 minutes as compared to the more usual 30 minutes. Slightly sedated it was not too uncomfortable but was sore occasionally as the endoscope was pushed further and further round my inner, lower workings. No abnormalities were discovered on the journey but on the return (which was much more comfortable) several polyps were discovered in the rectum. By this time I was aware enough to watch the proceedings myself on the monitor and I could see the polyps being looped and sliced off. The loops are designed to cauterise as they slice.

A short time later I was fully recovered and free to go home. While waiting to be picked up I used the hospital toilet and noticed there was blood present. Having read the provided information I understood this was normal. There were no instructions to say that I should rest up or diet etc. and perhaps none of this was required.

By this time it was only about 12.00 noon and a short time later I decided to take a leisurely stroll up to Byres Road to have lunch. After eating it was suddenly necessary for me to visit the toilet and there was considerably more blood than before. On arrival home I found it increasingly necessary to visit the toilet and each time it was the same with a considerable haemorrhage of blood. Later that evening I realised that this was wrong and we drove to the Accident and Emergency department of the Western Infirmary.

I had delayed going because I had phoned beforehand as suggested in the leaflet I had received from Gartnavel and was told I would just have to join the queue and that the wait was about two and a half hours. On arrival I explained the seriousness of the situation and was seen by a nurse after about 20 minutes. However I was sent back to the waiting room and was there for another two hours. In the meantime I had once again to go to the toilet and had to use the incredibly horrible toilet that didn't look like it was designed to cater for the decent general public. Didn't even have a toilet seat. Again a serious amount of blood loss. Needing to go once again before being seen I enquired about an optional toilet to be told there wasn't one so managed to hang on until seen.

First thing on going through to be seen was to find a better toilet and had a similar major haemorrhage. I was not being taken too seriously and it was only when using a commode that staff saw the results and immediately took me through to the resuscitation area and then to ward 7 on the 10th floor. It was now the early hours of the morning.

I went twice through the night to the toilet to the same end result. On a third visit in the morning I collapsed in the toilet and was briefly unconscious lying in a pool of blood on the floor. Despite pulling the emergency cord no-one came until the nurses changed over and I was discovered.

After this incident I was confined to bed and had to use a bed pan which I did on a regular basis throughout the day and night with the same effect. I was now being given blood but it was coming out faster than it was going in. The doctors still thought it was the normal situation after a colonoscopy and that it would self heal. Credit to the nurses who went to the doctor's room with a full bed pan and made the lights come on for them with the result that I was scheduled for an operation in the morning.

The operation was to examine my rectum and beyond to find the source of the bleeding and fix it by cauterisation or sutures, under general anaesthetic. I was disappointed to hear in the recovery room that the source of the bleed had not been found.

A decision was then made to send me for an angiogram and this was carried out a short time later. All the time I was still having bleeds. The point of this was to find the source of the bleed and fortunately it was found. In fact it was found almost exactly where they had been looking in my earlier operation.

The next decision was what to do about it and eventually the chosen option was to enter an artery in my groin and by passing catheters along my artery to the source of the bleed enabling them to deliver coils to the affected are shutting off the blood flow to the affected area. This was very painful but not because of the procedure but because my rectum was filling with fresh blood and clots bringing about spasms.

If I was not in such pain I would have found this whole process really fascinating - well I did a bit. The surgeon was using it as a teaching opportunity and it is pretty amazing that it is possible to navigate through an artery using constant x-ray and following the procedure on a monitor. I caught glimpses myself and could see the coils in place at the end of the procedure.

Fortunately this was a success but was a long and harrowing day. By the end of the week I had received 10 units of blood and my blood count was still very low. Now time for recuperation and iron tablets.

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Response from Paul Cannon, Head of Administration, Acute Services Division, Greater Glasgow & Clyde NHS

Thank you for taking the time and trouble to provide your very kind and thoughtful comments. You certainly have recounted a very stressful and worrying set of circumstances with great clarity. I was very glad that at the end of your procedure and return to Hospital you were able to go home to recuperate.

We will share your very kind comments with those involved in looking after you.

Once again please accept my thanks for sending us these comments. I hope that you have gone on to make a full and less eventful recovery


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