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I Survived The Barium Enema

Warning:  Explicit information

I read all the horror stories on the gastro forums about the pain, cramping and discomfort people went through during the barium enema test. I prepared myself for the worst.

To prepare for the test I had to go on a two day fast.  My test was on a Monday so I couldn’t have solid food all weekend.  I survived on banana popsicles and lime Jello.  I was starving!

On Sunday at 10:00 am I had to drink a bottle of magnesium citrate.  It took me two hours to get it down.  At 2:00 pm I took four Ducolax tablets.  I spent the rest of the day on the porcelain throne.  It wasn’t a pretty sight.  Monday morning two hours before the exam I had to insert a suppository.

With no food for two days and nothing to drink after midnight Sunday I’m sure I walked into the clinic Monday morning at least five pounds lighter.

They showed me to a dressing room and told me to take everything off even my shoes and socks.  The tech said she didn’t want me to get barium all over my shoes.  What!?

The exam room was small with a table, an x-ray machine and a lady behind a glass window.  I am so glad it was a female because she had a perfect view of the whole procedure.

The technician had me lay on my side so she could insert the enema wand.  As she told me to relax, she proceeded to insert the enema wand into the wrong place!  Yes, you read that right.  I said “hey, that’s not where it goes!”  All she said was “oh sorry”.  I shudder to think what would have happened if I hadn’t noticed.  That barium can turn into cement which is why they want you to expel it out of your colon as soon as possible.

So now I’m really stressed
With the wand in correctly she expanded the balloons to hold the wand and barium in.  That’s when it started to be very uncomfortable.  It hurt and felt like I needed to use the bathroom.  The tech said that feeling is caused by the nerves in that area.

The technician then said she’d get the radiologist.  I told her she’d better hurry because I didn’t think I could handle that wand much longer.  I have to mention at this point that I’ve had a virtual colonoscopy where they insert a wand with expanded balloon, also, and that didn’t hurt.  So I’m thinking the tech this time might have pumped it too much.  So, if you’re deciding on doing a barium enema don’t let this keep you from having this very important test.

It turned out that the wand was the only uncomfortable part.  The radiologist said he was going to start the enema and then used a flat wand to push on my stomach and take pictures.  When he started the enema, I was expecting all the pain and cramping I’d read about.  I even asked him if the barium was going in.  He said it’s all in and he was almost done.  I didn’t feel anything!  It was a piece of cake!  No cramping.  Nothing!

The radiologist left and the technician took a few more pictures then let some of the barium drain back into the bag.  I went and used their bathroom, got dressed and went home.

So, if you’re scheduled for a barium enema don’t believe all the horror stories on the internet.  There’s nothing to it.