There are some things that we can set our watch by: John Lewis releasing its Christmas advert and subsequently social media going crazy for said advert, Starbucks releasing a festive hot beverage that tastes nauseatingly sweet, my children suddenly needing umpteen glasses of water at bedtime, and, finally, me getting my arse out….AGAIN.
I’m Not Talking Snowballs
No, I haven’t hit the festive spirit a little too hard; it was not the result of one too many Snowballs. This bum flashing might not be my most regal act, but even the Queen must poo. Yes, I was having another colonoscopy. For those of you who don’t know what a colonoscopy is, think camera, think bottom and combine the two. I could crack a joke about a brownie camera but luckily for you, I’m not that crude.
Last week saw me gearing up for my second colonoscopy. First time round they hadn’t been able to get into my colon because Phyllis, my massive tumour, had been blocking that entrance.. I knew it was unlikely that they would find another tumour, but I was hoping the colonoscopy would show that I have a sparkly clean colon and there would be no tumours nor polyps in sight.
Preparing For My Colonoscopy
I undertook the usual preparations with a weary resignation: a low fibre diet for three days, followed by the 24-hour fasting and the Movicol (the stuff that gets sh*t moving, literally). I knew that sh*t was going to go down, but at least I knew what to expect this time. Plus, in the grand scheme of things, a 24 hour fast and some frantic toilet dashing isn’t that bad if it could save your life.
This time round didn’t feel as bad as last time as things seemed to move much quicker. Perhaps it’s because I have a smaller bowel or perhaps it’s because Phyllis is no longer with us. Either way, I retreated to my bedroom and commandeered use of the en-suite telling everyone else in the house that they were to use the other toilet and the other toilet ONLY. I found a Christmas film on Netflix and I lit some candles so that I could pretend I was in a glam spa. Unfortunately, I didn’t get the spa vibes as emptying my bowels constantly kind of ruined the relaxed mood. 6 hours later and I was done and by the time my husband decided it was safe to come upstairs I was fast asleep.
The next morning, we were at the hospital for 8:30am. I had opted for the first appointment of the day so I could go and get the colonoscopy done and out of the way and reward myself with a massive brunch afterwards. I’m all about the food. It wasn’t nice being back on the same ward as last time and the memories came flooding back. I suddenly remembered how I felt last February when I saw Phyllis on the screen, and the concerned look on Mr C’s face as I was wheeled back into the room. I could have done without those flashbacks. I looked across at Mr C, he had the same concerned look on his face now. I wanted to reassure him, “It’s going to be okay this time, I promise” However, I couldn’t make that promise because if cancer has taught me anything, it’s that there are no guarantees. Plus, I could feel my throat tightening, I couldn’t open my mouth, I couldn’t utter a word because I was trying to keep my emotions in check.
I shuffled into the toilet, locked the door and took a deep breath. I faced myself in the mirror and whispered my mantra “It’s going to be okay. Everything is going to be okay” I changed into my outfit for the colonoscopy. Sadly, the hospital hadn’t got the memo about Christmas being on its way and there was no red sparkly number. Instead I found myself in the blue hospital regulation gown with the huge pants and the opening on the back so that they can find my bottom and get easy access. It’s hardly glamorous but do you know what? It’s completely fine. A colonoscopy is okay and it’s over within 30 minutes. Nothing to it really and it could save your life. I had been debating asking to be fully sedated as I was worried that I would get upset, but I’m stubborn and I was determined that I would be awake for the process.
Eyes On The Screen
In the operating theatre I asked for the least amount of sedation so that I could be wide awake. I watched as the camera navigated into my bowel and snaked its way into my colon. At first everything looked clean and I felt relieved. Then the first polyp was discovered, followed by another one, and another. In the end multiple polyps were found. I can’t be sure how many as I think I may have fallen asleep at one point, 5, 10? I can’t be sure. Sedation and a 24 hour fast does that to you. The polyps were removed for analysis and the surgeon informed me that he was confident they were benign. Phew!
It’s only when I’ve been wheeled back into my room that disappointment hits. Why couldn’t I have had a sparkly clean colon? Why did I have to have polyps? As I type this it feels a little like I’m back in limbo as I wait to find out that they definitely are benign, and also for clarification as to what this means moving forward. The surgeon has mentioned it means I will need to be monitored more closely, but we already knew that. How often will I be flashing my arse now? Every 6 months, 3 months, 1 month? I am not anxiously waiting for my letter with the results as I’ve found that the best way to silence the voice of doubt is through exercise so I’ve thrown myself into my fitness. I have spent the week attending gym classes, lifting weights and pounding the treadmill.
I’m In A Good Place
I feel like I’m in a good place, I’m excited for Christmas and for the future. Finally, I feel like I’m moving out of cancer’s shadow. I’m no longer grieving for my life pre-cancer. I’m grateful that cancer has reminded me of what a great life I have. I’m lucky I have support, I’m lucky because this time they just found polyps and not tumours.
I can do this.