A ‘TMI’ Post
If you’re of an easily offended nature, please stop reading HERE.
You see, in the past I’ve written about giving birth as many mums do. It’s a very important, life changing experience which involves, to be frank, a fair amount of blood, sweat and tears. As far as I can gather, people are used to reading birth stories It’s a normal blog topic really. This on the other hand isn’t a ‘normal’ blog topic I suppose, but it is something that happens to people, and why the hell shouldn’t I write about it? Giving birth can be traumatic, funny at times, uncomfortable and horrendously painful, but it’s all for the best. I think this post has a little in common with it.
Today I didn’t give birth but I had a colonscopy. This is a medical procedure where they basically use a camera on a long wire to examine your colon to see if it is healthy or not. They insert it …well….where’ the sun don’t shine’ to put it bluntly. I was terrified.
That is why I’m writing this, I’d hate anyone to feel as petrified as I was this morning. Please feel free to pass this link to anyone who may have concerns about going for a colonoscopy. It’s not as bad as you think it might be, although of course, not everyone’s experiences will be the same.
Yesterday I spent the entire day prepping myself for the procedure, this entailed taking copious amounts of laxatives, starving myself, drinking tons of black tea with sugar, and reading a ton of BBC Wildlife magazines in the bathroom. It was fun, fun, fun! Except it wasn’t, it was bl**dy awful, I’ll be honest about that. There’s no real way of glossing over having an officially medicated tummy bug. It’s a bit like the Norovirus, but without the throwing up and the tummy cramps, but with all the rushing to the loo bits.
I was so hungry! After spending all night craving biscuits and having lust dreams about cake, I went in for the procedure at 11am this morning. The nurse told me my mum had a sense of humour after she left me at reception; her parting words were ‘Enjoy yourself!’ I replied ‘I will!’ through gritted teeth. My wobbly legs carried me through to a side room where the nurse took my blood pressure and looked puzzled at me. ‘You feeling ok?’ she asked me. Apparently I had a reading of 86/44 and they were worried I’d faint or something.
When she asked me if I was into keeping fit, I told her I simply wander up and down shed loads of hills with my kids. I always have low blood pressure. This is my excuse for drinking too much wine every now and then, being a social smoker and eating too muchy fatty food. I’m simply self medicating, it’s a great excuse. Because of this I had to lie on a bed in a ward and ‘relax’ for a while. Like anyone can ‘relax’ knowing they’re going to have a camera shoved somewhere undignified in the next half an hour or so! It didn’t help that I had to get undressed and wear one of those stupid back to front gowns. Their next blood pressure reading was just about exactly the same – I’m an obstinate so-and-so you see. After checking I wasn’t about to keel over they decided they’d go ahead anyway.
When I was in tears on the ward, Jackie the nurse put a reassuring hand on my shoulder and said that it was probably the fear of the unknown that was upsetting me, and it was. I didn’t know what to expect, or how painful it would be, or if I’d just end up completely out of my depth being poked and prodded like a piece of meat on a table. I’m sure I’m not the first person to worry about things like this.
They eventually led me into the room where they were going to do-the-do, after I’d casually chatted to the doctor and burst into tears whilst discussing pain relief of course. Gas and air was my drug of choice. It had been my solace whilst in child birth, and I remembered it being like being drunk so I figured I might as well repeat the experience. No way was I going to go cold turkey, and a full anaesthetic sounded like I’d have to be babysat for the next 24 hours, so laughing gas it had to be. I didn’t think it would be a funny experience, but you have to get your laughs where you can I reckon.
I lay there whilst they started the procedure, tears streaming down my face. The nurse was lovely, really sweet. She asked me if I was ok, if I was sure of my pain relief and held my glasses for me. At one point she asked me if I wanted my glasses back so I could see the camera. I refused. I know we’re all full of tubes and flesh and things, but I’d rather not know what they look like. Never once have I managed to watch one of those hospital TV programmes that show operations in graphic detail and I didn’t intend to start then.
At that point it just got ridiculous. The nurse told me that they were using air to pump my stomach so they could insert the camera and view my colon better. They told me to pass the wind back out if I could to prevent painful trapped wind later. So…there they were…two nurses and a doctor encouraging me to fart as much as I could. Not believing my ears, and wondering if the gas and air had sent me loopy, I obliged. The huge, white room, filled with equipment and a tv screen echoed with the sound of me letting loose huge whoopee cushion, bronx cheers.
Despite the uncomfortable feeling in my tummy, despite everything, I laughed. I mean, I know the gas n’ air makes you act a bit stupid, but it was genuinely the most surreal, bizarre experience I’ve ever had, apart from when I gave birth – and there seemed nothing else to do apart from to giggle a little. The doctor reassured me that it was the laughing gas kicking in. I asked them not to tell anyone about the farting. Before the procedure one of the nurses said that they knew someone who lived on the same street as me, and they reassured me that they wouldn’t tell anyone apart from the bloke on my street of course. I hope they were joking, I’m sure they were, they better had’ve been! I remember them encouraging me to ‘Let it all go!’ ‘Get it all out!’ and ‘There, you feel better now don’t you!’ It was completely mad, it certainly went against any social graces I’ve learnt since about the age of 2. It took about half an hour in total and it was disorientating, funny, uncomfortable and not something I’d like to go through again. Unfortunately due to the nature of Colitis, I probably will have to.
Once it was all over the two nurses wheeled me onto the ward. I sat there in recovery, shaking and feeling high as a kite for about half an hour. After taking deep breaths, rubbing my sore tummy lots and talking gibberish at the nurse I eventually felt a little better and ready to go home. Another kind nurse gave me a sweet cup of tea and a cheese and pickle sandwich. From what I remember the sandwich was dry, and the tea was too sweet, but after having been starved, scared to death, blown up like a baloon and examined in a none too pleasant way – the lunch was lovely. I was just so relieved that it was all over with, and could have hugged the nurse for supplying food and sympathy.
The end result is that I have colitis at both far ends of my colon, but it’s not ulcerative which is good news at least. I’m relieved it was nothing worse.
My mum came to pick me up, and my dad drove me home. My sister was looking after the kids. I’m so grateful for the family support I have, for the NHS, for the medications we have in this country and for the fabulous supportive hospital staff who work in the Endescopy unit at my local hospital……and I’m so relieved it’s all over with.