Monday, June 07, 2010

Adventures in Gastroscopy

At long, long last it would appear that some headway is being made as to how come I've felt so awful since last October. Regular readers of my blog are no doubt familiar/sick of* my jaunty and oh-so-entertaining health reports, but finally I can say today that a milestone has been reached.

Having spoken with a Gastroenterology specialist a few weeks back about my persistent abdominal pains, this morning I went to University Hospital for Gastroscopy. I'd been dreading it for a number of reasons, firstly because I'd heard all kind of horror stories about how uncomfortable the procedure is, secondly because I was worried that they'd find something (stomach cancer is the new popular favourite candidate for illness in my head) and thirdly, that they wouldn't find anything at all and that I'd be stuck feeling like this forever.

The initial stages of my appointment basically involved explaining the pain I'd been having to a nurse which was then followed by the daunting stage of signing various disclaimers (Yes, I was aware that the procedure might perforate my stomach, Yes I was prepared to be rushed down to theatre should the worst happen, No I wouldn't mind my organs being transplanted into somebody more worthy should the worst come to the worst).

Nervous as hell and shaking like a dog shitting glass, I was ushered into the room where the procedure would be carried out. Dressed in just one of those oh-so flattering gowns and my jeans, I was told to lie on a bed on my side. A mouthguard was fitted and then they showed me the tool that would be inserted down my throat for some candid hot oesophagus on stomach action shots.

I'm not kidding you, I'd expected modern technology to make much smaller fibre optic cables. I work with them for a living for data comms and wasn't expecting to see this pencil thickness monstrosity which would shortly be setting up home in my belly.

I was told in advance that there were too methods of premedication; I could be sedated (still concious and aware of what was going on, albeit incredibly relaxed) or have some throat spray (which would wear off after 45 minutes, after which I would be back to normal). I opted for the Xylocaine throat spray which, as I was warned, tasted of banana. The horrible chemical banana taste you get in cheap foam banana sweets. Still, it worked and soon my throat felt very relaxed - so much so, in fact, that I was having difficulty swallowing.

The procedure? Uncomfortable, but only momentarily. As they slid the camera down my throat (with me having to do a big gulp at one stage to politely move my epiglottis aside), my sick trigger was activated a good four or five times. No actual vomit, but painful, harsh retching. Once the initial discomfort was one, it was merely slightly uncomfortable. I couldn't feel anything in my actual stomach but it seemed to last for an age.

A whole four minutes later I was told that they were removing it, and out it came. I was then told I was a brave little soldier and given a wollypop, and all was well. That last bit was a lie. They showed me a photograph of the inside of my stomach (to be specific, at the "area extending from the antrum through the inferior pylorus and lesser curve prepyloric region" - Inferior Pylorus? I've got a fucking awesome pylorus, I'll have you know). The picture I was presented with looked like a huge raw pink blob sitting on a wall of red.

And this is the good news. Looks like I've been suffering from Gastritis (again, to be specific "A mild erythematous/exeduative with no bleeding within"). The camera took a biopsy whilst it was in there, but it looks like a simple stomach infection - possibly (and most likely) H.Pylori - Treatable, and not life threatening. Hopefully within a couple of weeks I'll be shot of this thing for good. It's only taken them eight months to narrow it down to an actual condition within various people trying to convince me it's all in my imagination.

The cinema lied to me. I was expecting Donald Pleasance and Racquel Welch to be launched on a life-or-death mission in a microsubmarine to face the deadly threat of my all-powerful stomach acid :)

* - delete as applicable

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