Small bowel test, otherwise known as Poopoopalooza

Even though I have a history of abdominal adhesions and am experiencing the same symptoms as before, my surgeons must rule out all digestive issues AGAIN before they will agree to surgery.  On one hand, I understand their reasoning.  But considering this isn’t my first rodeo, I feel it is a waste of time and money for my doctors, insurance company, and myself.  With that said, I also recognize that I have to play the game in order for them to do what needs to be done.

At my last appointment, the surgeon ordered my colonoscopy and then asked whether I wanted to do the small bowel series.  He wasn’t sure I would be willing to be put through a test that induced violent diarrhea when I have been suffering from it intermittently for the past year and a half.  I agreed to the test, and here is why.  This test would further prove that my digestive problems were merely symptoms and not my core issue, which will speed up the process of having an exploratory surgery scheduled.  The second reason I agreed is that I am no stranger to diarrhea and figured what’s another day of sitting on my throne.  My third reason is actually the one that made the decision easy.  Under my health insurance plan, this test was covered 100%.  Had this been under any of my former insurance providers, I may have passed due to the hit my bank account would have taken, especially since I know that the results are going to show that nothing is wrong.

Disclaimer: This blog post contains affiliate links. I may earn a small commission to fund my Disney obsession if you use these links to make a purchase. You will not be charged extra, and you’ll keep me supplied with Pixie dust and Mickey pretzels.It’s a win for everyone. I am not a medical professional, and nothing stated in this article should be mistaken for medical advice…


What is a small bowel series? 

It is basically a test in which you drink a potion, and x-rays are taken to watch it pass through your esophagus, stomach, and small intestine.  Click here to read an article at Healthline magazine that explains it in more detail.  To prepare for the test, I was told to not eat or drink for 8 hours prior to the test and that I could have a light dinner the night before.  I didn’t drink for 8 hours prior, and while not necessarily by choice, I hadn’t eaten in over 20 hours due to nausea the day before.  I was told to expect the test to take up to 4 hours.


Welcome to Poopoopalooza! 

When the morning of my test arrived, I wasn’t bothered by the fact that I couldn’t eat because I was still feeling nauseous.  Not being able to have my morning coffee or even a glass of water annoyed me.  Upon arriving at the hospital, I was given more information and instructions.  I was reminded that I could be there for up to 4 hours and that they would be scanning me every 20 minutes to watch their potion move through me.  My tech then shared that walking as much as possible in between scans is best, as that helps the potion move faster.  I had to laugh at this because I was in too much pain to walk that day.  My first thought was, oh great, I am going to be here all day!!!!  Afterward, she performed the first scan before handing me the potion.


Bottoms up! 

When my tech handed me the potion, she warned me that it would taste awful.  She then asked if I would like a straw.  I said heck no, I am going to chug this bad boy down and get it over with.  And that is precisely what I did.  She didn’t lie; it was disgusting!! It tasted like Lysol!!  Later I found out that I didn’t have the same potion that most patients get.  Because I am allergic or highly sensitive to many of the ingredients of the standard potion, my surgeon ordered a different kind.  The good news was that it has been known to work faster than the other.


So far, so good….. 

So far, this day had been going very well.  I didn’t have a reaction to the potion and I didn’t have to spend my morning inflicting more pain upon my body by walking up and down the hall all morning.  Instead of spending four hours in the hospital, I was out of there within one.  As I was getting dressed, the gas pain continued to increase.  My worries were no longer about the test, but instead, I feared not making it home without pooing my pants.  Thankfully the timing of my leaving the hospital was perfect.  I had my first round of liquid poo before leaving the hospital and made it home in just the nick of time.  The rest of my day was spent sitting on the toilet with liquid pouring from my rear.  I had a couple 45-minute reprieves throughout my day, which I used for naps.  My test began at 8:00AM. My diarrhea began at 9:00AM and didn’t end until 11:00PM.  It was an exhausting day.


A little small bowel series advice….. 

I have a little advice for anyone who has to have this test.  The most important piece of advice I have is to NOT make any plans for that day.  Even if I had worn an adult diaper, there isn’t one made strong enough to absorb the amount of fluid that was gushing out of me. Bring clothing that you don’t care about and protect the seats in your car.  Seriously, I can’t imagine how disgusting my car would have been if I hadn’t arrived home at the moment that I did.  But this advice isn’t just for your commute home but also for the test.  I was told that I could leave my underwear on, and I did.  However, afterward, I had to laugh as I told my husband that now that I knew what to expect, next time, I would go commando or wear my most dreaded panties.   HYDRATE!!  Drink lots of water.  I felt like I couldn’t get enough water inside of me.  I also know that because I drank so much water, my muscle spasms weren’t as bad as they could have been.  Take it easy the following day as well.  While I was feeling much better, I was still sore and physically exhausted from the day before.


I should have the results within a week or two.  My colonoscopy is in 10 days.  I will be so glad when I am done being tortured with digestive tests and to have my doctor focus on what it should be, my abdominal adhesions.  Have you had a small bowel series?  What was your experience?

Wishing you a “regular” day filled with many reasons to smile,

The Disabled Diva

Published by Cynthia Covert

Diagnosed in 2001 with psoriasis, followed by fibromyalgia, psoriatic arthritis, endometriosis, and later a botched hysterectomy turned her world upside down. Cynthia shares her experience, advice, and tips for how to make life with chronic pain easier and less painful.

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