What happens during a colonoscopy?

Some additional information for my latest blog post: https://africandream01.wordpress.com/2015/06/25/stop-the-bus-i-want-to-get-off/

So Bad Ass

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…

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Stop the bus . . . I want to get off!

Bus Back View

Yesterday I was, and today I am sad . . .

This week marks eight months since my mom’s death. Yesterday (24 June 2015) was exactly one year since finding out that my mom had another tumour and further surgery was not an option. What followed was a whirlwind fourteen months of caregiving and watching how mom deteriorated to the end.

Yesterday, at a routine visit to my own doctor, I was informed that I need to have a Gastroscopy and Colonoscopy as soon as possible. Since mom’s death I’ve been prescribed Vitamin B12 injections together with an Iron supplement and, in spite of this, my iron levels are not increasing and doctor says we need to find out why my body is not absorbing the iron being pumped into it. There may be many reasons for this – but I’m scared . . . Why?

Well, a lack of iron and constantly feeling tired was the very reason why my mom decided to go for a routine Colonoscopy in her late sixties. Fortunately for mom (at that time) her result came back negative. Her gut was so clean the doctor said he wished his gut could look like hers when he reached her age. Her next Colonscopy just over five years later – showed she had a tumour 20mm in diameter and a very aggressive form of Cancer which resulted in a whirlwind fourteen month end to her life eight months ago. From totally healthy to dead in fourteen months!

Today, I cried . . . I cried for the whirlwind fourteen months spent taking care of mom that just wizzed past me as I juggled a full time job, part time studies and taking care of mom in the last fourteen months of her life.

Mother's Day 2014 Rhebokskloof

Mother’s Day 2014 Rhebokskloof

I cried for the grief I feel and mourning her loss for the last eight months.

Crying Baby

I cried today, for the prospect of facing the same journey my mom faced . . . today, I cried.


Part of my grieving journey is to feel immensely sad from around the twenty fourth of the month to around the sixth of the next month. I assume this has something to do with the fact that it was around the twenty fourth of October that mom looked like she was close to the end of her journey but only died on the twenty seventh of October. We had her funeral that same week so my guess is, from a Psychological point of view, why I usually feel sad around the last week of the month. This makes sense to me – I don’t know if it makes sense to anyone else?

Bus Overloaded

What have I learned about Colonoscopies?
A Colonoscopy is a day-case procedure in which the inside of the large intestine (colon and rectum) is examined. A Colonoscopy is commonly used to evaluate gastrointestinal symptoms, such as rectal and intestinal bleeding, or changes in bowel habit. Colonoscopy is also advised for adults without any symptoms to check for colorectal polyps or Cancer. A screening Colonoscopy is advised for anyone aged 50 years or older, and persons with a family history of colon polyps or Cancer should be screened at an age 10 years younger than it was diagnosed in the family member.
In my mom’s case – mom was diagnosed just after her seventieth birthday which means that my first Colonoscopy should be around age sixty (I’m not sixty yet).

What happens before a Colonoscopy?
In order to have a successful Colonoscopy, the bowel must be clean so that the physician can clearly view the inside of the colon. The physician gives very strict instructions regarding a particular liquid you have to drink and a very specific diet you have to follow prior to having a Colonoscopy. Without proper preparation, the Colonoscopy will not be successful and may have to be repeated.


What happens during a Colonoscopy?
The doctor will insert a long flexible instrument into the rectum and will progress to the caecum (beginning of the colon). If necessary, pieces of tissue (biopsy) can be removed for testing, and polyps can be identified and removed. The Colonoscopy may allow accurate diagnosis and treatment of colorectal problems, without the need for a major operation.

The Colonoscope is disinfected between procedures so is completely safe. An intravenous line is inserted (a “drip”) and you have to lie on your left side. A sedative and a pain-relieving drug is given to make you more relaxed during the procedure. Your vital signs are monitored, and you will be given oxygen to maintain a normal blood oxygen concentration. The procedure lasts between twenty and forty minutes on average, and you will be allowed to rest until you are fully awake. You may feel slightly bloated and uncomfortable after the procedure, due to air inserted into your colon to improve visibility.

Bus puffing smoke

What happens after a Colonoscopy?
You will remain in a recovery room for observation until you are ready for discharge from the hospital. You may feel some cramping or a sensation of having wind, but these symptoms will eventually go away. A responsible adult must drive you home after this procedure and you should avoid driving or operating machinery for twenty four hours afterwards. Alcohol should be avoided and a course of pro-biotics is recommended to restore intestinal flora.

Unless otherwise stated by your physician, you may resume your normal eating habits after a Colonoscopy. Wait until a day after the procedure before resuming normal activities e.g. exercise. If any polyps were removed or biopsies taken, you have to avoid using any medication containing aspirin ad anti-inflammatory drugs for two weeks. Anti-coagulants e.g. Warfarin or Piavix can only be taken once your physician has given you permission to do so.

Dolphins in water

If a biopsy was take or a polyp removed, mild rectal bleeding may be noted for 1 – 2 days after the procedure. If heavier bleeding is encountered e.g. clots of blood, or if you have severe abdominal pain, this must be reported immediately. If you are unable to contact the physician, report to the emergency room at the clinic or hospital where the procedure was performed immediately.

Gastroscopy – same as above except that the inside of the stomach is examined and the doctor will insert a long flexible instrument into the stomach through your throat. The rest of the procedure is the same as for the Colonoscopy.

Funny (suprised) face

So in a few weeks I will have the (joy) of having two tubes inserted during the same procedure – one down my throat and one up my back passage. Yay!

The pain of watching a parent age

Nursing (Life of love and compassion)

I’ve been battling to find time to post these last few weeks. I’ve scribbled a few ideas on paper but have not been able to actually finish them off.

This post today has been prompted by a television programme I watched recently where an elderly father wanted his son to take him across State lines to visit a friend and colleague he worked with in his younger days. The friend is dying and the old man just wanted to make sure he saw him before he died. The son is addicted to his job and resented having to tear himself away from his job to help his elderly dad.

Watching this tug-of-war between father and son just brought back so many memories for me of my own relationship with my mom in the last fourteen months before she died. From the time my mom got sick, I made sure my work and my entire life came second and mom came first – always! and watching this tug-of-war between this father and son tonight made me realise how precious our last few months and hours are with our elderly parents.

Nursing Care (how compassion can make a change)

My mom was not really old (she was seventy one when she died) but her illness caused her to be confined to bed for the last few months of her life. Most of what I experienced with mom was part of the natural ageing process but in my mom’s case, was accelerated by her illness. Let me share some of these with you and hopefully you will get the picture.

Loss of short term memory: This is part of the natural ageing process and usually progresses slowly until, in some cases, Alzeimers disease will set in – but not all ageing people end up with Alzeimers disease. In my mom’s case, her short term memory loss was age related but was accelerated by the brain tumour so as the tumour grew, the short term memory was almost completely taken over by her long term memory i.e. she could remember things that happened years ago but could not remember what happened that morning.

Nursing Care (hands)

The urgency of doing things NOW – not being able to wait until later: This is also part of the natural ageing process and gets worse the closer they get to death. Again, in my mom’s case, this was accelerated by her brain tumour to the point where five minutes seemed like an eternity to her, which means I was kept on my toes all the time because mom immediately felt abandoned if left alone for too long.

Child taking the role of parent: I think this is the most difficult part of the ageing process where the child has to take over the role of bed bathing, brushing the teeth, combing the hair, dressing when the parent can no longer move around freely and is confined to bed. This, I think, was the most difficult part of mom’s illness for both of us, when mom had to resign herself to the fact that she just cannot do this herself anymore and also brought home to me just how ill mom really was. I did, however try my best to do this part with as much dignity as possible.
I had to be very subtle in the way I suggested replacing underwear with diapers to avoid soiling the bed and had to ensure this was done in the most dignified way possible.

Nursing Care

Spending time just listening: The closer mom got to her final days, the more she just wanted me to be with her to just listen – telling the same old stories I’ve heard a million times before going as far back as her primary school days. To listen without getting impatient, without saying “yeah, yeah, I’ve heard that so many times before”. I just kept quiet and listened for as long as it took. Preparing the next meal, washing dishes or doing the laundry just had to wait, I had to listen. In the end I was glad I took the time to listen because it kept mom calm and stress free to the end.

This television programme I watched recently showed how impatient the son got with his father when all the father wanted was for his son to spend time with him. The look of sadness and abandonment in the father’s eyes made me feel so sad because even just five minutes would have meant the world to the father and yet the son was not even prepared to sacrifice that five minutes of his time.

The night before mom died she was very restless and could not get to sleep. I continuously had to go into her room just to be there, to lay down next to her, just to hold her hand and tell her everything will be alright. Right up until the morning of her death, mom was like a little girl just needing comfort and reassurance that everything was going to be alright. That’s all that mattered in the end.

My job and my job title did not matter – the only thing that mattered was being there.


We, the younger generation need to slow down, stop and “smell the roses”. We need to stop trying to rush our parent(s) into handing over everything to us so we can take over and control their lives. We need to help them live a life of independence and dignity for as long as possible instead of trying to control them because we want to make things easier for ourselves.

Parents feel they need to be parents right up to the end and that is why we, as children need to take control without them losing their dignity as parents.
We should allow them to remain parents and we should continue to respect them as such right to the end (even though we have taken control of their worldly goods).

Nursing (Love & Compassion_Dalai Lama)

Additional note:
Children are often in too much of a hurry to take over the parents’ house and entire life thinking they are making things easier for the parent when, in fact, the parent struggles to let go because they see this as losing their dignity and freedom which they want to hold on to as long as possible.

Role reversal is as difficult for the parent as it is for the child. As children we need to remember that even though we are having to parent our parent(s), we still need to treat them as parents and not as children. Still speak as a child to a parent and not the other way around.

Children need to be more tolerant and patient when this stage comes and gradually take over once the parent is ready to hand over the reigns – but not to rush in and try to grab everything from the parent(s) all at once.

Relationship styles in children with a disability

Great post written by Colby Pearce worth reading

Attachment and Resilience

Colby Pearce Attachment National Psychology ExamRelationship Styles in Children with a Disability

Based on John Bowlby’s Attachment Theory

By: Tara Hearne (Psychology Intern at Secure Start®) and Colby Pearce

Relational styles in children can be broken down into four main categories:


A child with a secure relational style has an established sense of trust in their primary caregivers and the world. They feel safe in being able to interact with others and explore their environment with their caregiver acting as a secure base. Children with a secure relational style may show distress at being left by their caregiver but on their caregivers return, are easily comforted and return quickly back to play and exploration. Secure children feel comfortable expressing their emotions and seek and accept comfort from their caregivers when feeling distressed. These children have a positive view of themselves and others.


A child with an insecure-avoidant relational style typically does not show…

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The Estate.

A story of life in the e city of Cape Town, South Africa

Jenga Man

Ivan & Fosie

I grew up in a comfortable three bedroomed house in the Cape Coloured suburb of Belgravia Estate. It was part of the greater Athlone area on the north- western fringe of the Cape Flats. But we refused to be bundled together with Athlone and preferred calling it Rondebosch East, which better suited our coloured middle class status. There is no such place as Rondebosch East. But there are suburbs east of Rondebosch. I was born in Rondebosch but the family had to pack up and move when so enforced by the Group Areas Act. Rondebosch became a whites only suburb and we relocated to Belgravia Estate, five kilometres east. It still sows much confusion when asked by my white colleagues where I was brought up.

‘Are you from the Cape Flats?’

‘No,’ I would shrug smugly, ‘I lived in Rondebosch East.’

‘But where exactly?’ they probed.

‘Near the stadium.’


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I am capable . . .

Life_Hand releasing butterfly

When you judge another, you do not define them, you define yourself.
– Wayne W. Dyer

When I started this post, my title was 10 things you need to know about disability, however, once I got started I could not stop and had to add some additional points along the way. I am therefore not going to number the points.

How do you view disabled people – the ones who are physically disabled where the disability is obvious as well as those with hidden disabilities, like those who are Deaf? Do you see them as people with diagnosed conditions which present obstacles that need to be overcome, when, in fact, people are disabled by the lack of accessibility of our environments and through ignorance of able-bodied people?

Disability is not an illness/sickness:
Asking questions like “how’s your health now?” implies that the disabled person is ill. Even if the disability is temporary, it’s still not an illness. The disabled person can be perfectly healthy in all other aspects but be disabled.

Disabled people are not wheelchair bound:
How often have you read a newspaper or magazine article about wheelchair-bound people? Being wheelchair bound implies that the person never leaves the wheelchair, that they have their bums glued to the chair, never to get out of it ever again.

People use wheelchairs as a means to get from point A to point B. Just like someone using crutches or other walking aid uses it to get from point A to point B. People who use wheelchairs don’t shower/bath in them, they don’t sleep in the wheelchair. They sit on a chair or couch just like any able-bodied person would, they sleep in a bed just like everyone else.


I don’t consider myself to have a disability:
• Being disabled from birth, I don’t know any other way of life. Becoming disabled later in life was not by choice, so I have no other option but to adapt.
• Having a disability is different to “being disabled”
• I am not my disability – I am just a person so don’t describe me as “that beautiful girl/woman in a wheelchair”. It’s the same as saying “that fat girl/woman over there” in other words, the words we use discriminate.
• Disabled people are not seen as being equal to those without disabilities, which is a difficult thing to know especially because we have done nothing wrong.

Its not about being more or less able, it’s just about differences:
• Society (generally) talks and thinks about disability as “us” and “them” when, in fact, everybody has a disability – some more visible than others.
• There are physical, academic, social and creative disabilities. We are all just differently-abled.

People actively discriminate against disability:
Discrimination comes as a result of ignorance. We can raise awareness as much as we like but it won’t necessarily change things.

Some simple things are difficult for me, but that does not mean I’m not talented or capable:
• I am extremely talented and creative but things of a physical nature (like walking long distances and climbing stairs) are difficult for me.
• The things I find difficult to do make me compare myself to others more than I should.
• A lot of the prejudice is the result of not being aware of the needs of others because of being too self-centred.

Disability is massively misunderstood:
• Disabled people are a rich and diverse scope of human expression.
• Working with disabled people is one of the most creative environments where all people share a common goal; to learn, to be and to have positive experiences with others. Connecting with others, no matter what the differences are.

Black and white butterfly

I keep my disability a secret:
• Having a physical disability makes me vulnerable to falling easily and leaves me vulnerable to criminals who see me as a soft target. As a result, I stay home more than I should because the environment outside my house is not safe (roads/pathways are uneven or not accessible for whatever reason, buildings are mostly not accessible – doors which are not automated, steps/stairs outside and inside the building etc)
• Many people don’t respect (or give a thought) to what disabled people go through daily. It doesn’t matter what the differences are, it’s about being treated equally and with respect.

Don’t be afraid to ask somebody if they have a disability, but do it respectfully and without judging:
Physical disabilities are obvious, but the physically disabled can read, speak, some can walk limited distances using crutches or other walking aids, capable of being gainfully employed if given the chance, and free to use their brains creatively and constructively.

Things are slowly improving:
• Since the Paralympics in 2012, disability has been portrayed in the media in a more positive way.
• There is still no equality because the environment has not changed to being a fully integrated one. I’ve been in hotels where they have ramp access outside, a room which is accessible for wheelchairs but the television is mounted on a wall bracket high up on the wall so if there is a problem with the remote control unit, you cannot operate the television manually – you have to wait for assistance. The other obstacle I’ve encountered is when I ask for a room with a shower, I’m given a shower where I have to climb into the bath in order to shower – why would I specifically ask for a room with an accessible shower if I could climb into the bath?
• Awareness is better, but education about disability and people with disabilities should become more prominent and the media can and should play an important role in this.
• Everybody does things differently – everyone is unique. Let’s embrace this idea.
• Everyone is disabled in some way, in the same way that everyone is able.

People think my brain is not good enough, but I am more than capable.
There are certain jobs I will not get because people think I cannot do it, but I can and I am very capable. With a few minor adjustments to my working environment, I can do the job.

Living with a disability is unfair:
• My disability makes me feel a lot of emotions that people don’t think about. I am scared, I feel judged, I get nervous and anxious and I think too much.
• I wish I could do simple things like go for a walk (or a stroll in my wheelchair) around my neighbourhood, but always feel like people are staring at me because I’m different. There’s also the criminal elements to worry about being vulnerable and a “soft target” for those who want to take advantage of me.
• I wish I could be seen as equal.

Disabled people are not brave:
• Disabled people are not brave because they are disabled.
• Being disabled from birth is the only life we know. If we became disabled later in life, we had no choice but to adapt. We were forced by our circumstances to adapt.

Love_Text with butterflies

Inspiration porn disables the disabled:
Using disabled people like a “prop” to motivate able-bodied people is equivalent to objectifying people with disabilities. It creates the wrong kind of hero.

Some examples of inspiration porn:
• Shames the viewer by showing a disabled person overcoming basic obstacles, implying that anyone less disabled has no excuse.
• Focus on individuals helping people with disabilities, suggesting that others should help too, centering attention on the helper and not the person being helped. A good example here is “raising funds for the disabled”. The fundraiser is seen as a “saint” or “hero” because they are helping the “less fortunate”.
• Taking a disabled person as a companion to a function (Matric Ball or any other social function) just to make them feel “normal” or “included” – using them as a “prop” to make you look and feel good. Again, focussing on the “kind person” making him/her the hero.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with helping a person with a disability if they have asked for help, but it’s the way the story is told that hides the real issues faced by the community of disabled people. When assisting a disabled person, do you
• Ask permission to help before objectifying the person to your need for an ego boost?
• Do you consider the fact that people with disabilities have the right to expect privacy? Carrying someone up a flight of stairs might boost your ego and make you look like a hero/compassionate person but have you thought about how undignified the disabled might feel?

Inspiration porn highlights the need for more awareness around the social model of disability
Click here

Photo by: Tami Magnin @rumtumtiggs

Photo by: Tami Magnin @rumtumtiggs

Society (in general) still sees disability through the eyes of the medical model, i.e. diagnosed conditions present obstacles that need to be overcome, when, in fact, people are disabled by the lack of accessibility in the environment around us.

• Stigma makes it difficult for people with disabilities to have close friends. The stigma disables.
• The perception of disabled bodies as non-sexy is disabling, not the bodies themselves.
• The person in the wheelchair is not disabled by the wheelchair but by the buildings that don’t have automated doors and wheelchair ramps instead of steps/stairs and a society that does not provide sufficient community-supported assistance.

Disabled people need to be more than token employees and social companions and objects of pity. We need more than policies that look good on paper with no real implementation or monitoring of the implementation to change the current norms.


• I would not be the person I am today (humble and filled with compassion) if I did not face the challenges I have in my lifetime.
• I had a mother who believed I could do anything if I just tied hard enough and she spent her entire life devoted to helping me take that step out of my comfort zone, trying to delete the words “I can’t” from my brain.

Some of this material has been taken from:
Inspiration porn further disables the disabled: Click here