It’s exactly a year ago today that I had my last radiotherapy. As relieved as I was at the time, my body was feeling badly broken from what had happened during much of the preceding six months. I set about rebuilding and trying to get as fit as I possibly could, encountering many obstacles along the way. But by Christmas, I was feeling quite good about myself and looking to put a terrible year behind me. Onward and upward.
I had been having problems swallowing and my throat was frequently quite sore and following an appointment with my GP I was referred for a gastroscopy. A procedure which involved having a camera shoved down my throat. Something I had been threatened with before when taking photographs on my travels.
The procedure came with two options, with or without sedation. I opted for without as I wanted to be able to drive to the hospital and back home again. The hospital staff were wonderful as I have come to expect and they made it as trauma free as possible. One nurse holding my hand throughout. I was told to let them know if it was too uncomfortable and they would pause and assess before continuing. Great.
After the camera was inserted, the nurse holding my hand asked if I was okay. “Argh argh arghh arragh”, I replied, which translated into, “it is hurting a lot”.
“Good” she replied, “well done”, as the camera was pushed deeper into my body. Oh well. I was distracted for a while as I watched on the monitor what was taking place in my oesophagus. Every so often a biopsy would be taken and there would be a flash of red as blood escaped. Fascinating. Then came a moment of major discomfort at which point I exclaimed, “argh argh arghhh arhghgh argh argh”. It is really hurting me now.
The nurse squeezed my hand and said, ” fine. You’re doing really well.”
Soon it was all over. The camera extracted and I was returned to an upright position. “How are you feeling?” asked the nurse as she let go of my hand.
“Argh argh argh argh arrraghh argh argh argahg argh”, I replied. It feels like the camera is still inside me.
“Good”, she said, “You have been very brave”.
The nurse endoscopist, typed up her report and then came to tell me what she had seen. It transpired that I have a condition called Barret’s oesophagitis, abnormal cells which could become cancerous. Everything else looked normal and I was told not to worry. Great.
About ten days later I received a letter saying that I needed to go to the General Hospital for a procedure called a Barium Swallow and that subsequently I would need to have another gastroscopy to remove the nasty cells in my oesophagus which the biopsies were showing as pre-cancerous.
To be continued.