A Special Experience

When faced with a colonoscopy that I had put off 1 for eighteen years, I asked myself, “Why in the world would anyone do this—allow someone to put a flexible probe, with a tiny camera attached to its end, up into the depths of your colon with no anesthesia?”

Here are some answers I came up with 2 for not having anesthesia:

1) Anesthesia is a fresh hurt that confuses our thinking process and should be avoided, if possible.

2) There is an opportunity of being aware of each twist and turn during the colonoscopy.

3) It provides an occasion to present a little theory about feelings to medical staff and friends.

4) I would rather be clear-headed for the rest of the day after the procedure rather than in a fog. (If you are going to have anesthesia, you have to sign statements that after the procedure you will not drive a car or make important decisions for the rest of the day.)

5) I could have full-out3 sessions on previous surgeries, such as labor (childbirth), as well as on early sexual memories and pre-natal distresses.

6) Generally, the recovery is more rapid.

7) Finally, surgery/recovery is a lot safer without anesthesia.

In my sessions prior to the procedure I chose a direction of “relaxing and welcoming the probe,” rather than trying to focus on fear. I had arranged for a Co-Counselor to come with me during the procedure. It turned out4 that my Co-Counselor was not allowed to stay with me in the operating room, but a wonderful nurse agreed to hold my hand and describe to me what was happening during the procedure. When it started, I grabbed the nurse’s hand and told her that I might make sounds or shake, but they should keep going. I said, “I want to feel everything!” She laughed, and said, “Fine. Squeeze as hard as you want.”

It was a long twenty-two minutes. I watched a screen showing my pulsating colon viewed from the little camera at the end of the probe. There were several “turns” and some were painful. The pain felt like a deep internal cramp. I made a decision not to interpret the sensation as pain. I breathed and counted how many breaths it took before


the sensation was over. After the probe had gone in fully, the nurse told me that there would be no pain as it was removed, and there wasn’t.

I was awake and quite thrilled with myself when they took me into the recovery area. All the staff looked startled to see someone awake afterwards, and when any of them caught my eye 5 I would give a little wave while thinking, “A piece of cake!”6

I soon realized that I needed more sessions after the experience. A part of my body that had never been touched had been somewhat invaded, and I needed to discharge all sorts of vague early material,7 with lots of shaking. The procedure involved intimate sensations and quite a large degree of willed vulnerability. It also reminded me of a “reverse labor” (during childbirth) where something was coming in rather than going out.

A colonoscopy without sedation is a special experience!

 1 Put off means postponed.
2 Came up with means thought of.
3 Full-out means without restraint.
4 Turned out means happened.
5 means looked me in the eye
6 means easy
7 material means distress

Barbara Deck

Newton, Massachusetts, USA

Last modified: 2020-05-05 08:16:26+00