There’s no denying that in the past people have said to me, “You’re talking sh*t!” … I’m going to be talking sh*t even more today. 🙂
No one really wants to write a blog post about bowel habits or even mention the word ‘poo’, but I’m mentioning both because I’m not embarrassed to tell you about my recent health scare. The point of this post is to encourage you to contact your healthcare professionals if you think you might have something going on that’s not quite right, poo-related or otherwise.
Remember that no one knows your body like you do.
I had cause to contact my GP about a change in bowel habits. After a chat on the phone, I was invited to pop round to the surgery to collect a FIT test for a poo sample. Subsequent slightly abnormal results saw me referred for a specialist for a face-to-face appointment just 10 days later. I then had a colonoscopy two weeks after that and was able to leave the hospital with the results in my hand and with a great deal of relief.
Even though my Consultant had said that she felt sure there was nothing serious going on, during the wait for the colonoscopy my anxiety was fairly high. Concerns about cancer, obviously, but also because I have just reached the age my dad was when he died. I was reassured by the fact that 91 in 100 colonoscopies reveal no trace of cancerous tumours – the odds felt stacked in my favour.
But even if the odds appear stacked in your favour, please do not ignore any signs or symptoms that indicate something just might be amiss. Talk to your GP as soon as your can.
The colonoscopy in itself is not that much of an ordeal – I had conscious sedation. and the procedure took about 30 minutes, with another 30 minutes in recovery where I was given water, tea and 3 Digestive biscuits. (I also had a currant bun in my bag, ready to be inhaled once I’d left the hospital.)
The actual ordeal comes 24 hours before the procedure, when you are required to empty your bowel completely and the only way to do that is by using a laxative. I took this one. The taste is fairly grim and I chased it down with as much water as I could swallow. Final tally: 2 litres of laxative to 3.5 litres of water.
I then spent the remainder of the day and evening very close to the loo.
Once you’ve managed to get the laxative down, you’re only allowed water until 2 hours before the procedure and then nil by mouth until after the colonoscopy has been completed.
What about embarrassment? I’ll be honest, by the time I reached the hospital and changed into the hospital gown and the hilarious dignity pants (how I wished I’d had my phone with me – they looked like navy Victorian bloomers in a crepe-like material, complete with large vent at the rear 🙂 ), I decided that having a colonoscopy was similar to child birth – leave your dignity at the door and simply get on with it.
You may have the option to watch live streaming of the procedure – the inside of my intestines is not something I would ever see (and that’s not a sentence I ever thought I would write).
For UK readers, be assured that the NHS is still running reasonably normal for urgent referrals. For any Londoners reading, I can report that Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust was superb at every stage.