Two years ago today, the 6th December 2014, is a day I remember very well. The time had come for for the dreaded colonoscopy. The doctors had planned to put cameras inside me “to find out what was going on”. I had been experiencing excruciating abdominal pain for the previous 6 weeks, and blood tests had determined I was anaemic. Anaemia being “unusual for a guy my age”, supposedly.
I went in that Saturday afternoon, yep the NHS were working even on a Saturday, hoping to get some answers and a plan to get back to fitness. My bowel movements had settled in the morning; the laxatives from the previous day to clean out my bowel weren’t as bad as I had anticipated. Luckily, there were no accidents during the several visits to the toilet.
At the hospital the waiting area was not busy, only a few other nervous souls most probably waiting for a similar procedure. When it was my turn to be called, I was taken to a room in a ward which had posters of children’s cartoon characters including Thomas the Tank Engine and Dora the Explorer. Aptly I was being childlike nervously asking if the needle would hurt. They had to put a cannula in the vein of my hand. I flinched as I watched the needle go in. For some reason I wanted pictures taken, so I passed my phone to my sister who snapped away. A customary smile was in order as the cannula was inserted.
A nurse went through the procedure I was about to go through, asking me a number of questions before asking me to sign the consent forms. The only question I had was whether it would hurt. Clearly I was not a fan of pain. Doctor R then came and met me, running through the procedure once more. Once More I asked whether it would hurt.
The wait was over
There were at least 4 of them in the room and they started with the endoscopy, reminding me to stay still and breathe throughout. Easier said than done. I closed my eyes as I surrendered to the ordeal that was to come. They held me down as the scope went down my throat, all I wanted to do was gag. I’d occasionally open my eyes to see I was surrounded by the team wearing green overalls, with goggles on. I would close my eyes again.
Soon it was time to turn on my side for the colonoscopy. If I thought the first camera hurt, the second camera was pain on another level. To say it hurt would be an understatement. It took the 6 weeks of abdominal pain to whole new heights. As the camera went in, air was being pumped. It was sheer agony. They kept telling me to breathe. I couldn’t wait for it to all end. As the air kept being pumped in, the pain intensifying each time. It felt like I was in there for hours, but they told me it was 40 mins.
They wheeled me back to the child’s room, as I waited for Dr R to give me his verdict. When he eventually arrived, his words were to be ingrained into my memory banks for the following week. I repeated the lines to anyone that asked me for an update word for word;
“We couldn’t finish the colonoscopy, there is an inflamed polyp, of which we’ve taken a sample for a biopsy. You either have Crohn’s Disease or Cancer. You will have an emergency CT Scan now which will confirm what it is.”
The CT scan followed promptly and was pain free. They inserted dye through the cannula whilst the scan proceeded. I was then taken to a recovery ward, when the nurse brought over a cup of tea with two digestive biscuits. I hadn’t eaten anything for the what was now a full 24 hours. Those digestives dipped in tea felt so good that I asked the nurse for another pack (of two).
I went in hoping to get some answers, yet I was left with the ultimate question; ‘Is it Crohn’s or Cancer?’ A google search didn’t make Crohn’s sound much fun.
As I went to bed that night, the words playing on loop in my head were “…its either Crohn’s or Cancer”. These were replaced by the words “I’m hoping for the best, but expecting the worst, Are you gonna drop the bomb or not?” lyrics from Alphaville’s ‘Forever Young’ song. I had the entire song playing on loop for the following 5 days.