Sigmoidoscopy Day

posted in: Cancer, Cancer and faith 0

Thank goodness I can eat normally until the enema. I have an extra large bowl of porridge and a sandwich just in case 🙂 . Husband drives me to hospital – not long since I was driving him to and from hospital. 6 months ago we wouldn’t have dreamt that we’d find ourselves visiting the hospital so frequently.

The waiting room is clean and bright, with one or two more patients trying not to look too nervous. My name is called. I wave briefly to Husband and have to leave him there, looking a little lost (probably due to several business calls buzzing through on his phone – it’s surreal when we have to remember that we have a business).

The nurse asks if I’ve read the information sheets. She is lovely, with a wonderful sense of humour and a great direct manner. I am desperately relieved to find that I will be given the enema in a little room on my own, with its own loo. I had had visions of having to explode into a bedpan… (based on info sent to me by the hospital – someone really should rewrite it!)

I ask the stupid questions I need to – how long will it take to work, how violent will it be, will I have time to get to the loo? How will I know I’m done???

Answers: hold the liquid in for 5-10 minutes, you’ll soon get a sensation that you want the loo, you will be able to get to the loo in time, it’s not violent (you won’t lose control), stay on the loo for as long as you like.

In the event I manage to hold the liquid for a good 10 mins (the longer it’s held the better the effect apparently and I want to do my bit so that my bowel will make a good clean impression 🙂 ). I’m very conscious of being in the medics’ hands and want to make their job a bit easier if I can or at least not to make it more difficult. I’ve read on the internet that it’s important to clean the bowel well so that the doc can see clearly. Lynn Faulds Wood was clear about the importance of clearing the bowel and I don’t want to let her down after her excellent video.

Well it’s not great but it doesn’t hurt and it doesn’t take long. I spend a while in the loo to be absolutely sure and, wheeling my bag in the little supermarket basket they gave me, leave cautiously (still with scary visions of exploding:-) ).

I gain the adjacent waiting room without drama & a smiling doc appears. More questions about bowel habits and off to the treatment room. The first thing I see is a nurse I have known socially for over 30 years. She very sweetly says hi and asks if I mind her being there. The last thing I want to do is give them hassle. There are times when one has to man up and be a grown up – bodies are fundamentally the same and they do this all the time so … As luck would have it she has to assist poor thing – in for a penny…

Digital rectal exam. No fun for me or the doc. I know he’s found something he’s a bit concerned about but he says nothing intelligible to me. It’s cool being able to see the inside of my bowel on the tv screen – for all of 2 seconds, when a monster polyp comes into view. Of course things are magnified massively but even I know that it shouldn’t be there. It looks ugly & somewhat gothic with what look like cavernous walls & traces of blood. It looks like some sort of battle is being fought in there.

Doc and both nurses are lovely, asking me about my work (it’s okay guys – talking isn’t going to take my mind off this 🙂 . Doc lassos the polyp and removes it without me feeling a thing. He tattoos it for future reference & takes a sample, again utterly painlessly. He works steadily punctuated by the clicking sound of the camera immortalising the ugly gothic polyp.

They offer Entonox (sounds fun) to take the edge off but I’ve had worse period pain. The air they pump in is sufficiently uncomfortable to make me gasp a few times (and then immediately apologise for whining!) but really the whole thing is much better than I’d expected. Of course I’d marched myself in there telling myself that I just had to get on with it whatever ‘it’ was. I try to not fight the swooshing of air inside because I figure fighting it will make it worse. There’s a machine making constant suction sounds ensuring no mess – I’m sure the doc is as grateful as I am 🙂 .

Why do women care so much about mess and giving people work to do? Must be added to our DNA at birth 🙂 .

I feel rather faint afterwards (I always do as a result of pain or stress – part of the ME / CFS I think) so they wheel me into recovery and after a few minutes I’m allowed to get up and sit in another waiting room for tea and biscuits (how is it that hospital tea has magical properties?) Then a quick change in the loo and I’m ready to go. Except they’re not. I’m not sure what the hold up is because I know they’re happy to discharge me. I wait. And wait. Maybe an hour passes. I’ve seen a lot of hospital waiting rooms recently but not as a patient. I do hope Husband knows I’m okay.

I am due to be discharged so they call Husband but I can hear them discussing it: ‘I can’t discharge her because he’s written this’. I wish they’d simply tell me. I really am not that breakable. There will be procedures though and they’re there for a reason.

I have to admit I‘m looking forward to having Husband’s support when doc gives me my little report.

I’m finally allowed out to be reunited with Husband in yet anther little appointment room. Doc is so nice, reminding me of what he’s said during the procedure: I’m to have a full colonoscopy, CT and MRI in the next 2 weeks, samples have gone to Histology and Mr Consultant will see me in 2 weeks when he’s seen the results and discussed them at the board interdisciplinary meeting. Sounds familiar. At least Christmas won’t be slowing things down so I won’t have to wait as long as Husband did. Sidenote: try to avoid getting ill over national holidays!

I ask Doc if he thinks it’s cancer (I wanted to ask what his gut feeling was but it sounded like a poor pun), saying we’d rather have it straight – we learned that from Husband’s experience. He was good enough to say that the texture of the polyp was firm rather than friable and that gives him cause for concern so that’s what the tests will be investigating.

He gives me a copy of the report: ‘stalked polyp, max size 1cm, removed via hot snare polypectomy, site tattoed.’ I now have a tattoo :-).

Follow-up – outpatient (urgent), colonoscopy, CT scan and MRI’.

Probable colorectal malignancy’. So there we have it.

We manage to exit the building with commendable calm. I can’t help but wonder what’s going on in Husband’s mind. He’s been heroically calm about his own cancer but this is another blow.

We go to my mother’s for coffee – this is not a Whatsapp conversation.

Have you got your hearing aid in?’ Husband waits in car while I tell her briefly – it may not be but it quite possibly is. Her face falls and she looks grey, hugs me to her: ‘I birthed you under a bad star’. My voice catches as I admit that my primary worry is that I might not be around to look after husband and dog and that I won’t finish my ‘to do’ list. Seriously. That is a huge burden. News flash to self: I almost certainly will not finish my to do list. So I’d better cull it! If God didn’t put it there it doesn’t need to be there or at least nowhere near the top.

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