Don’t read on unless you really want to know about my innards. This post is mostly so I can record what happened while I still remember it.
What’s worn under my kilt?
Apparently nothing! After we both had a very sleepless night, Elly took me to a hospital on the outskirts of Edinburgh for my sigmoidoscopy. We arrived around 7:30, in plenty of time for the 7:45 start. The receptionist was friendly, reminding me of more of a posh hotel than a hospital. I was collected by a nurse and taken to a private room that was bigger than some flats I’ve seen. It had a large en-suite shower room in which (I guess), wheelchair-bound people could be washed with de-chairing.
I was directed to change into a hospital gown and ‘modesty-shorts’: paper shorts with an access-flap at the back. After the usual checks that I am me by the nurse, a staff member asked me what I wanted for lunch. I replied that I’m vegan and currently avoiding gluten. She suggested a cheese and tomato sandwich. I giggled ‘no.’ She offered tuna mayonnaise and various other meat-containing ideas. Eventually I explained that vegans don’t eat any animal products and we settled on a salad sandwich on glue-free bread, with no butter or other spread.
I was then given an enema. With hindsight, I guess that I didn’t hold it in long enough, or that I should have asked for another dose after the first one appeared to work. However, I felt as though I’d emptied myself at the time.
The doctor then came in to run through the risks of the procedure, and to check I still consented. I did so after confirming that I’d be numbed using nitrous oxide, rather than a local anaesthetic. (My needle-phobia may have been counter-productive here.)
I was walked to the endoscopy theatre, told to lie on my left on the operating bed and introduced to the nitrous oxide mouthpiece. It was vaguely reminiscent of a cartoon duck’s bill. I was told to keep inhaling on it as I needed. I could see the screen on which the endoscope camera would show my innards but I didn’t pay much attention at first. The doctor used a finger to confirm that I have ‘good anal tone and squeeze pressure’, then introduced the colonoscope.
At first it was merely an interesting sensation but after a while the sensation suddenly became one of bloating and pain. (This is why I think I should have opted for the local anaesthetic.) I asked the doctor to stop. I didn’t mean that he should necessarily end the investigation right then, rather just pause probing further forward until I got used to it. However, he stopped at point 2 on the diagram (proximal sigmoid colon) due to ‘formed normal coloured stools’ (why I think I should have asked for another enema) and ‘intolerance despite using paediatric colonoscope’. Once the colonoscope had been removed, I was wheeled back to my room, where I sleep for a few hours.
It’s a mystery!
It turns out that I have no haemorrhoids, no polyps, no structures that are out of place or obviously broken. This, combined with the lack of positive results from blood-tests, is a mystery to all concerned. The doctor has promised to think it all through and phone in a few days. In the meantime, it’s clear that something is wrong: it’s just that it’s functional rather than anatomical. I’m still in pain in different parts of my abdomen if I sit or lie on my back or sides. My brain is still in first gear at best, and I’m tired all the time. I’m still constipated. According to the doctor, it’s very hard to diagnose the causes of these disparate pains. The doctor suggested that I work with my GP and other specialists to manage the conditions. In the meantime, he’s suggested that gentle exercise might help.
Out and about
So I’ve decided to try to get out of the house at least once a day, trying to build up my cycling and walking distances. (I prefer cycling because it should jiggle my guts less.) Also, I want to stay awake during the day and sleep though nights – this hasn’t been happening recently. Today I needed to pass on a copy of yesterday’s results to my GP, then collect a prescription from my local branch of Boots. After a decent sleep, I put on my cycling plumage and went out with Elly. We cycled less than a mile (cyclometer map – the break is where I had to walk from to avoid an illegal left turn) and I’m feeling quite tired, but it’s a start. Tomorrow I’ll do the same route without stopping. My appetite seems to be back just now – I don’t know what I want to eat though.
So watch this space for further news of my innards and outings!