Smile for the camera

There’s no delicate way to put this, I started 2021 with a colonoscopy. It’s an experience I’d never had, and hopefully won’t need for a while, but it was not as terrible as I’d thought.

Two weeks before Christmas, I went to the toilet, wiped, and saw red. Lots of it. Like a silly amount of it. I was frightened by the volume and the mess of it all but I tried not to worry.

After dealing with this, I sat for a bit and checked in with Dr Google, which brought me to this page on the NHS site. Where the advice states to see a GP if there’s blood for more than three weeks. I’m obviously not a doctor, but this seemed an awful long time.

As it continued to show with each of my bathroom visits, some of which were nothing but blood, I thought better of waiting and called the GP surgery who quickly booked me in for some tests.

Three days later I attended the surgery, where the nurse struggled to find a vein she could use. It took a lot of flexing, slapping and tapping before one decided to appear. We finally got the needle into a vein on the inside of my left elbow… then it popped out. The needle slid and blood trickled down my arm. I was then met with an unprofessional but very human exclamation of Shit! I laughed.

Fine then, time for the other arm! This one went a lot better, even with the resultant bruising. As a prize I was given a faecal sample kit, I’ll spare you the details but it was tricky to use.

Now I don’t mind telling you, I was terrified. I waited for my results and convinced myself I had bowel cancer. I went down a dark path of what that would mean, what treatment I would need, and thoughts of leaving my daughter and wife behind should I die.

That’s even with the assurance that in 9 out of 10 cases bowel cancer is treated successfully but that’s the curse of imagination.

I got a phone call two days later from my GP. Who started with ‘Hi Mr Logue, unfortunately…’

Now that’s a hell of a way to start a conversation about medical results. He went on to explain that my blood sample has been contaminated. I fully suspect the nurse handed in the vial of blood attached to the needle that’d come out. I was asked to attend again three details later.

I got the same nurse and we spoke about what could have happened, but you know what? It doesn’t matter. Things go wrong, that’s life. We had a laugh about it, and I spoke of how I’d write about this.

Two days on I got another call from the GP, the bloods were clear but the poo sample showed some inflammation, he suggested a colonoscopy just to check for any polyps or irregularities. I love being in my 30’s.

Christmas came and through the week I got a call notifying me of an appointment for the 6th January in Glasgow but I had to go for a Covid-19 test in Greenock on the 3rd January first.

Johnstone to Inverclyde Hospital – Johnstone to Stobhill Hospital

Two days later this arrived…

The appointment in Greenock was at 9.30 am on a Sunday, meaning I had a nice scenic winter drive. On the way I just had to stop and take these photos.

The covid test was pretty much the same as I wrote about in Worst drive-thru ever. With this now being my 3rd test. I wasn’t concerned. It’s uncomfortable as and eye watering but so’s everything they show on BBC Scotland.

Two days later I got this text:

One test I’m always happy to fail

Meaning I could go for my colonoscopy.

Then it was time for the clear out. I had 4 litres of Klean Prep to drink and many many trips to the toilet. I had to fast from 1pm the day before the procedure, with the appointment being at 1.30pm. I considered eating all the food but then I thought that I’d still need to “process” it.

As it was the biggest glass I could find, the mighty beer stein found a new use.

Still better than Tennent’s lager

To keep myself distracted, I played God of War 4, a story involving a great deal of water and man of great strength. Pretty appropriate I thought. I had to drink 250 ml every 15 minutes until the first litre was gone. Then I waited an hour and did the same again.

By the second drink of of round two, I’d fought two gods, slayed several monsters and travelled across Midgard. Now, with a rumbling stomach, it was time to travel to the toilet.

Pretty accurate..

I’ll spare the details but imagine that pipe Augustus Gloop travelled up in Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factor, you know, or don’t. Every time it abated, I’d go back to the PS4, down a bit more of the liquid. level up, and wait for the stirrings. I went 7 or 8 times, before it stopped. I played for a bit more, set an alarm for 6 am to start the cycle again.

I couldn’t wait for the next day.

I got up about 5:45, went through the routine of beating up a bunch of demons, going to the toilet, demons, toilet, demons, toilet, Demon Toilet. Over the course of this I completed one video game and two rolls of toilet paper.

Now I was ready but nervous that it wasn’t over with, that I’d go in the car. I’d never been so scared of passing wind.

Tracy drove me to the hospital, the journey was mostly me talking myself round and making jokes about the situation, that’s my way of coping. She wished me well and off I went.

Reception pointed me to an escalator and a flight of stairs. You know, handy for me. I took the lift instead and signed in and the Endoscopy unit. The nurse spoke to me first, going through a medical checklist, letting me know how it would all go and providing me with a new outfit.

Unlike the costume upgrades in God of War, my ass stuck out the back of this one for ease of access.

I make this look good

I agreed to sedation as part of the process, after a trial trying to find veins and subsequently having them insulted I’ve seen better, we got the cannula in, now hospital issue GI Joe was ready.

Vodka goes here

I was taken to the operating room, placed on a bed and sedated. As the sedative took hold, I felt weightless, I didn’t even feel the camera enter, only the slightest application of pressure as the camera was threaded through my intestine – that’s a sentence I didn’t expect to write. The procedure lasted about twenty minutes – I won’t lie I was too buzzed to notice the passing of time.

Actual footage

One thing they warned about was the fact my bowel would be inflated as part of the procedure. They introduce air to expand the bowel and allow for better imaging. Unfortunately they don’t remove it, that was my job. I was told to expect some discomfort.

They wheeled the bed round to recovery where the nurse spoke me through their findings, while saying I probably wouldn’t remember the conversation. My first thought was, so why are you telling me?

The final report was that they’d found a single polyp, they had removed it during the procedure using the small wire attachment on the colonoscope, and they would send it off for analysis. This is standard and not indicative of cancer and there were no concerns.

I was left alone to get dressed and deal with the wind, wary of every movement, not trusting my own butt. The trapped air caused an ache I could feel through the sedation. I leaned over the bed, let go and… Let’s just say a mop was needed.

As horrible as it is, this happens and I’m certain I’m not the only person to do this that day. Now that I’ve spoken about it, please don’t be embarrassed if this happens to you. Shit happens.

I was just grateful I hadn’t changed yet.

When I was suitably clean, I groggily got dressed while the nurse phoned my wife. Tracy came to collect me and wheeled me out. In the car I was still a bit burst from the sedation and had some trouble speaking, but no trouble eating. The cramps were still there and they really hurt. Tracy even offered to pull over but I knew I’d be alright.

We picked the wee one up from her grans and went right to McDonald’s so I could eat some trash and have a milk shake, I’d earned it. After I was done stuffing my face, I went to bed and passed out until 8pm. I swear the sedative still had its grip but the rest helped.

A day on, at the time of writing. My bowels are still a bit funny I’ve no pain at the entry site and I feel well.

If you ever need an investigation like this, please try not to worry. Sure it’s a little gross but I’d sooner have a reality show camera crew up there, than ignore changes and potentially miss a chance to catch cancer at the earliest stage.

Your health is worth so much more than your pride.

Thanks for reading.

It might also to interest you to know I’ve started a Teespring store, you can see what’s on offer here. With the interest noted on the T-shirts I’ve been wearing, I thought I’d make them available.

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