I'm the Girl with the Colon Tattoo . . .
It was rather a shock when I was told I had an abnormal result following my National Bowel Cancer Screening test.
I've always had a fast transit time. No constipation. No changes in bowel habits. And apart from IBS symptoms that always manifest itself during times of high stress I'd no concerns re my working innards. That was why it was a shock.
I'd had a happy Friday morning playing bridge with friends. Much laughter and a light heart was soon brought down to earth when I found an NHS letter awaiting me at home. I had an appointment at the RD&E hospital on the following Thursday to meet and talk with the Bowel Cancer Screening Specialist Nurse to check I was fit enough for a colonoscopy; GULP.
Regardless of my various aches, pains, palpitations, tension and odd periods of high blood pressure - mainly following the arrival of the letter - I was deemed fit. Even when I was sitting there frightened and anxious my BP was recorded as a 'fine' at 140/86. So I was booked in for 'the procedure' on the following Tuesday afternoon.
To starve from Sunday lunch time. Taking a Senna laxative for Sunday tea followed by 2 other laxatives for Bank Holiday Monday breakfast and again at teatime. Only clear fluids allowed from midday Sunday onwards. It wasn't a pleasant weekend. There are better ways to spend a weekend. I lost count of the number of times I sat on the toilet. about every 30 minutes just passing liquid. I'm sure I was empty after the Senna worked at 1 a.m. The double portion of Picolax had an easy time of it.
I was told that I could have sedation for 'the procedure'. If I had sedation I had to be sure not to do anything for a full 24 hours after. Not to sign any papers (what about my Last Will & Testament?). I would need someone to drive me home from the hospital.
That was a big problem. MyMan has not been able to drive much over the last few weeks. His sudden onset of diabetes meant his eyesight has kept him off the road. Now that his sight is returned to normal his back is in such a bad way I wasn't sure he'd be fit enough to get me home. Friends were on holiday. Or car less. I didn't much like the idea of a taxi. MyMan raised his game and promised to get me there and home again.
I opted to undergo the 'procedure' without sedation. I was told I could use gas and air and if it became too uncomfortable I could change my mind and request a sedative. I knew - and was right -that MyMan once he'd got me there and back home again would more or less collapse in a heap. I couldn't afford to be sedated.
I am happy to say that I managed without any intervention at all. I concentrated on relaxation methods. Painful prods, I told myself were just 'sensations' and nothing to worry about. Turning the corners were the most uncomfortable sensation. Not to mention the amount of air inflating me till I had visions of myself floating away like a big airship. Mrs Blimp.
Polyps were found. Eeach in turn, was cut, caught, removed, cauterised and then a clip or a tattoo applied before moving on to the next polyp. 6 in all; 3 small; 3 large. Overall the procedure lasted about an an hour and quarter. All the air pumped into me started to make me feel nauseous. But after a rest in recovery unit I was given a very welcome cup of tea. And offered toast. By this time I felt I wasn't bothered if I never ate again. But they wanted me to eat one biscuit at least. I forced a digestive down.
On the way home I deposited the cup of tea and digestive biscuit in a layby - outside someone's house. Before we drove on I insisted MyMan wash it away with a bottle of Evian water.