Where no probe should ever go – Sigmoidoscopy, Gastroscopy and Gynaecology part 1

The last two days I have had tubes, fingers and whole hands shoved up places that no human being should ever boldly go. I mean even if I was abducted by aliens I think they wouldn’t have the balls to explore the places that the multitude of doctors have poked and prodded over the past two days.

Ready for my close-up

Ready for my close-up

I’m not a fan of surprises for many reasons…mostly because surprises when it comes to Crohns/Colitis are usually bad things. And because my illness is exasperated by stress, surprises are in many ways unhelpful to say the least. Ok, I’m a girl and I like the shock of a bunch of my favourite flowers, freshly made dairy-free cakes, and oh sparkly jewelry and bottles of wine (no hint intended)  – those kind of pleasant surprises don’t make me ill. I’m talking shock leaks, diarrhoea, meetings, and the worst of them all – surprise tests and examinations.

This week has had a lot of bad surprises. As if my abscess ordeal last week wasn’t enough yesterday I was subjected to the first lot of ‘invasive’ examinations since my operation six-months-ago. And when I say invasive I mean full on shove your whole hand in with a plastic glove kind of thing – like a farmer delivering a calf. It was a surprise, not because I had forgotten about it, but more that the appointments for these ‘invasive’ procedures were so close together – ok so at least they are all over and done with but I’m not a big fan of feeling bruised in every possible entrance after two days of pain and embarrassment.

So on Wednesday morning, while the rest of the newsroom continued to chase stories and proof copy for deadline, I lay in a very undignified position being probed by a gynaecologist. This was an appointment I had waited a long time for, due to a number of weird pains which have been coming and going since way before my operation, but not one I had been looking forward to. I’ve had a few bog standard examinations in that department in the past and they have never been pleasant, but this was entering a whole new ball game, a world where I imagined my feet being stretched into horrific metal stirrups and a weird man poking and prodding around.

Before the investigation

Before the investigation

Luckily it wasn’t quite like that. But it wasn’t far off. I still had to deal with a weird plastic implement being lodged up there, something which made me yelp and squirm with pain. And then a very undignified digital examination to check for all kinds of things. It was a truly horrible experience, but it was over in a matter of seconds, so really it was worth it to be told that they hadn’t found anything at that the pain was probably just scar tissue or adhesions forming due to my colitis and surgery.

I guess most people would have left that as a good job. But not me! Me and my mum raced down to the day surgical ward for me to be poked and prodded again. This time I was having one of the most dreaded of all investigations, the Gastroscopy – often referred to as the gag scope! The most horrific thing about this is knowledge that you will use all your will power not to gag, but there is not a chance in hell that you will be able to avoid it. But the real fear is in the waiting. I got there at my appointment time, 10.30am, had the needle in my arm (after the last time, retching and gagging, I thought I would go for the sedation, so I could feel happy drunk) then spent two hours watching rubbish TV in the waiting room, wondering if it was ever going to be my turn and also to becoming increasingly anxious about the massive amount of flexible tubing about to be shoved down my very small throat.

Eventually I was taken into the room and it went fairly smoothly. Which was a surprise

The Countess of Chester - where signs go to die

The Countess of Chester – where signs go to die

in itself. I refused the sedation (didn’t want to feel drugged-up for the rest of the day) and went for it. My GI consultant Dr Harris did the scope, unfortunately she has the ability to make me laugh at the most inconvenient of moments, but apart from a few horrible moments where I giggled with the tube down my throat (not recommended for the pain and the unbelievable amount of saliva generated) and the obvious pain and soreness of it all it went rather smoothly. Unlike last time I stayed very calm, unnaturally calm for me, and managed not to gag, actually swallowing when she said to swallow, something I found impossible last time.

Ok, I gagged as they were removing the tube and at the bit when they pocked around in the stomach, but that’s excusable, right? Anyway in the end no matter how horrible these things are for IBD patients the ends always justify the means…I mean she got to satisfy her itch for a good poke around with a tubey thing and I got to find out no damage has been done to my throat and stomach by the years of throwing up and ulcers. AND, thankfully my crohns/colitis hadn’t spread any further than my bowel.

The only tricky moment was with my ileostomy bag. Having the scope requires the doctor to pump the patient full of gas. Gas + Ostomy bag = disaster. While she was prodding around I hung on for dear life to Winnie as she swelled beneath my jeans, and by the end of it my bag was full to the point of nuclear explosion. In fact that’s how it remained all day long….it was like i’d swallowed a gas canister – I’m honestly surprised I didn’t float away.

Tomorrow…my sigmoidoscopy – first time look at my bowel post sub-total ileostomy.


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