Bulletin (Bull) 1: holding up my end so far, S. Oh, no, gotta go…graphic to follow.
T: NO GRAPHICS!! X Aghhhh, no, Vesuvius…
T: Poor you xxx
Reaching the moment of no return, T. (Bull 2)
x On R3 now, the woman who co-wrote Animal Farm. Night, T. Bull 3. Holding on xx T: Night xxxx
After a stormy night (Bull 4), entering the mince and gravy stage…more gravy. Only good news I can see is no veg. Will keep you posted xx Ooo, have to go…
Haven’t got long to write this…must be down to my last ounce of solid matter, surely..?
How much liquid can flow out of the human arse..? T: xxxx
How are you feeling? Xxx
T: Coughing a lot. x See you at 4.15 xxxx
Are you sure? I can ask our C. to meet me. You can stay in the warm and look after yourself. I don’t want you catching more cold.
T: I’d rather be with you. c u in a bit xx
Ok, love. Me too. It’s at the Gastroenterology unit. I bought some bread and Lancs white cheese for you too. Oops, need the loo…though slowly drying up, if you get my meaning xxx
Xxx Going out for bread and loo roll…don’t ask…would you like cake?
T: In cafe. REALLY early!! xx
Good for you, missed the rain! Which cafe? Still at bus stop xxx
T: Cafe in hospital. First floor x
That’s the Costa, then. There’s another one on ground floor
T: It’s outside the Costa – by the big window x
I know…will come and get you…I’d love a coffee ! Anyway, on the bus! See you soon xx T: No rush. x
There’s the bum rush, T. xx T: Come to cafe 4 coffee. Same one x phone cut out xxx
Well, here I was in the changing room with my partner, T. The nurse in sky blue asked me questions..’Are you allergic to anything? Heart attack in last three months..? Have you been scuba diving or deep sea swimming in last three months? Do you want sedation?’ ‘No…I said ‘No’ on the phone and I’ll stay no.’ ‘You sure?’ She looked at me with all her years of experience. What if it really is painful..? I saw the look in her eyes…and said ‘No’.
My reasons for this were two fold. Firstly, surely they were exaggerating any pain..? It probably was as bad as going to the dentist…or getting your ears syringed. And, secondly, I could get away straight away with T. and have our tea. So plans are formed. ‘You are aware of the risks?’ I nodded. I‘d read the leaflets the night before. ‘You sure then..? Sign here on the screen with your finger.’
‘Right then, change into these sexy blue shorts and night gown. The
hole goes round the back. You’d be surprised how many blokes get it wrong. You’ll have to wait awhile, not sure when you’ll go in. The one before is overrunning and I’m tired’. ‘What time did you come on?’ ‘7am. ‘And onto..?’ ‘7pm.’ ‘That’s a long day’, said S. ‘It’s the lists, you see. They won’t let us alter the lists and staff are off over Easter. And the young doctor in there said I don’t work fast enough!’ And she laughed.
By now, I had heard and read about the ‘procedures’ several times. A gumshield would be put in my mouth. There would be suction (so, it was like the dentist’s then). A tube would be put through the gum shield with a camera on the end. Would I be able to see the pictures, I’d wondered? Would you want to?! ‘The tricky bit is getting it up and over your larynx’, the young doctor said. ‘You’ll feel a slight reflection. That’s natural. We spray it to keep it numb.’ ‘Ok’, I said. ‘It takes about 10 minutes.’ And it did. I didn’t really take in much, as I was baulking a fair bit. ‘Are you ok?’ the nurse asked. ‘Yes’, I tried to say,’ crack on with it. I’m fine’ but it’s hard to talk. So, I waved my hand and gave the thumb’s up. In truth, it was uncomfortable but felt worth it to get checked over.
I’d been referred, following blood tests showing iron deficiency. And before Christmas, I’d noticed an abnormal amount of dark blood in my poo one day. Because I’ve had piles, wiping blood away from my bottom wasn’t that unusual but I’d not seen anything like this before. And it scared me. It wasn’t until the January that I was able to go to the GPs. She checked me over, thought I was ok and referred me to Endoscopy just to be sure. So here I was.
The young doctor said, ‘Right, turn onto your left side for me. I’m just going to pop my finger into your bottom with some gel (he was wearing surgical gloves) to check it’s ok to take the camera. And off we popped!
A colonoscopy takes longer, about forty minutes, but it flew over. They push the tubing in quickly to the far end of your small intestine, the caecum. (I chuckled inwardly; it brought a whole new meaning to the question, have you ever been on the ferry to Secombe (local reference)?) Biology class seemed real to me now and I wish I’d learned or remembered more. ‘We do this quite quickly. The real observations take place on the way back.’
Without the sedation, I was wide awake and began to follow the journey of the camera inside my stomach tubes. ‘They’re fantastic’, I exclaimed. ‘Yes, you’re right’, said the doctor. ‘Although I’ve never done it, I think it’s like caving or potholing.’ ‘Yes, I said, having tried it once…under water.’ ‘Yes, we do it under water sometimes. We flush you with water…’ and on it went through long corridors, opening up into high caverns. Ridges like vaulted ceilings led the way. It was amazing. The stomach tubes have folds, which halt the flow of the food, dropping it into sections, so that it didn’t all squash into one place. ‘Great design’, I thought. ‘So clever and really beautiful!’ And I am usually so squeamish.
And yet they were looking for a polyp; something that caused the bleeding. ‘So far, so good. Those white drops in the lining..? Do you take Safarel..? ‘What’s that?’ I asked. ‘…is the right answer. So, you don’t. It’s a condition, which makes little white droplets, like those.’ I looked carefully at them on the screen. ‘I think they may be quinoa seeds. I have them in my breakfast cereal.’
And yes, we did do the rounds on how do you pronounce keen-wha or Quinn –oh-a, if you’re from Bootle (the posh end, obviously; a spoilt childgood, I thought sadly).
‘You can cook quinoa as well, you know’, Anna said, one of the two nurses present. ‘Yeah, but I just put them raw in my breakfast cereal.’ And that led onto a discussion about breakfast cereals…as the tube progressed slowly backwards, revealing…a pea. ‘Last night’s tea’, I beamed and punched the air. It was so exciting.
As we neared the rear end – I’d barely looked at the clock – the doctor said, ‘I think this may be the cause of your bleeding.’ I looked but…’There it is, a haemorrhoid.’ ‘Ah’, I said, still not seeing very much, till he zoomed in. ‘Oh, there you are, my little friend, my good, itchy, little friend.’ And if a haemorrhoid could smile and offer a hand of friendship, it was, for sure, albeit briefly, as we were off and out popped the tube and the camera…the pictures faded.
‘All done! You have an almost pristine prepared bowel for your colonoscopy.’ I may have started to glow with pride…till more questions. ‘Are you vegetarian, vegan?’ ‘No, I don’t’ eat meat…haven’t for over thirty years…but I do eat fish and dairy, so….’ ‘Pescatarian, then..?’ ‘No…’ and that led into a discussion about what was a pescatarian. Anna said, ‘…sounds like someone belonging to a cult, doesn’t it?’ ‘They mainly eat fish and I hardly eat any.’ Dare I mention that I eat a lot of fruit..? And pictured guiltily the orange whisps on my folds, like flock wallpaper…and thought better. ‘Well, I don’t think I was asked…if I was vegetarian. Lots of questions, but not that one.’
‘Well, I think that’s the cause of your low iron. You may have to take an iron supplement for a while. Talk to your GP.’
And off I went on the trolley. Though short, it was like a sleigh ride. Bells were ringing and we nearly had a 2-bed and a blood pressure unit trolley pile up in Gastroenterology, which would have been spectacular but for the skilfull breaking of my navigator, Anna. She furled me over into a cubicle. ‘Here’s your clothes…you can stay and have a cup of tea and a biscuit in the recovery suite, if you like, but as you haven’t had sedation, you’re free to go.’ ‘Really, can I..?’
My throat felt a little sore. My bottom was a trifle uncomfortable but nothing much. I looked down onto the white sheet, now stained with a small patch of watery poo and started to feel embarrassed, then stopped. This is what comes of bottoms and the doctors and nurses deal with it everyday, no problem.
It felt good to get dressed. I put on my favourite green top and made for the door. Almost out, a nurse called me back. ‘You can have a cup of coffee before you go, you know.’ ‘I know, thanks,’ I said, ‘…but I’m gonna have a pint!’
They say live for today. Be present. Don’t let yourself get absent for who knows about tomorrow…hopefully, full of good stuff. And I rang T. to tell her the good news. ‘All done, on my way, 2 mins.’
PS Text sent the next day…Boss dump at 08.45 this morning, T. It felt soooo goooood. T: Aww, that’s nice xxxxx