Oh hi there! I know it’s been like a million years since I blogged properly or regularly, and when I first thought about updating the internet with my medical escapades today, my first instinct was to put a post on Twitter and Instagram. Doesn’t bode well for the long-form blog, does it? But the more I thought about it the more I thought I had to say, so here we are.

Today was the day of my annual endoscopies – a flexible sigmoidoscopy, a gastroscopy, and a capsule endoscopy placed via gastroscopy. So the capsule is normally placed via gastroscopy because if it’s not, it tends to just sit in place and the test needs to be redone. Last year, it kept swimming back up to the stomach when they were trying to place it rather than sitting in the small bowel, and it took them about half an hour to place it before giving up and leaving it in the stomach – luckily it quickly found its way down by itself. Then it didn’t exit until about 7pm, which has been typical since my whipple surgery. And I didn’t get my results until I got PALS involved nearly a year later, because the person who I thought was my consultant didn’t know he was my consultant, or something. I don’t know, that was a whole thing.

I don’t normally have a flexi sig at the same time as the other two, so this was a new one-stop shop kinda vibe. And the appointment was delayed because the person who normally deals with capsules was off sick. But anyway here we were, Peter and I, sat in the waiting room all booked in ready for my appointment. I had done the Moviprep bowel prep the night before, which as always, wasn’t pleasant – though I did get it down quite quickly. My last couple of capsules haven’t given very clear pictures, but from what I saw last night when half the world was falling out of my backside, it seemed pretty thorough to me. We were only seated for a minute when a woman came out to see us – she recognised me as I am a frequent flyer in the endoscopy unit. She said the person who had been off sick who normally does the capsules was not coming back to work there, but not to worry, my usual doctor at the unit could read the results and she was there to help put the equipment on me and put everything in place, so we were good to go. She also said they have recently done capsules without using bowel prep so next time I might not need to do it. That would be great, and I’ve often wondered why I need to do bowel prep, which typically clears out the large bowel, when we are looking at the small bowel and I don’t have a large bowel anyway besides my rectal cuff.

A few minutes later I was called through and taken to a little room where I was admitted. We went through lots of paperwork – each test requires its own form and consent, so it took a while to get through it. They did my blood pressure, which was reassuringly normal, and I got ready for the procedures. I could keep my t-shirt on and put a hospital gown on top, but take off my bottoms and wear “dignity shorts”. I hadn’t heard of these before but they were basically black paper shorts with a hole in the back so that the doctor has access for doing the flexi sig without me needing to show him my entire bum.

I spoke to the doctor before the procedure, who I have seen a few times now for these appointments and he is brilliant. Kind, reassuring, professional and expert. I want him looking after me all the time. In fact, all the staff in the endoscopy unit are brilliant, I couldn’t ask for better care. I took off the hospital gown briefly so I could be kitted out with the recording equipment, and then it was time to go into the room for the procedures, with anxiety levels through the roof. What will they find? If there is something to find, will they see it? Will they need to send something off for testing? What about the capsule, will it be difficult to place again or get stuck or come back with bad results in a few weeks’ time? Add going on holiday abroad in a month’s time, and there felt like there was a lot to worry about.

We started with placing the capsule, so I had throat spray and, as I requested, “plenty of sedation” because a gastroscopy is most unpleasant. When the gastroscopy was done the doctor said it was all good. It was much quicker to place this time and went smoothly. We moved on to the flexi sig, me still happily out of it. I did see my bowel on the screen, and I saw when they spotted a polyp and removed it. I saw it bleed a bit, but I saw it stopped quickly and it looked nice and round. The doctor confirmed they had removed a polyp. I asked if it looked friendly or unfriendly and he said it seemed fine and they would send it for testing, as they do with every polyp they remove from anyone.

I spent a little time in the recovery ward afterwards as the sedation wore off, and Peter came to collect me. I hadn’t eaten anything since 8.30am the day before and hadn’t drunk anything since 10.30pm that night. My appointment was at 8am, I had the tests at around 9.30am, and we left at 11am. I wasn’t allowed to drink until 12.30pm (and even then nothing fizzy), or eat until 2pm, at which point I had some crisps and a bit of tuna, wondering if my chosen snack wasn’t light enough last time and if that was why the capsule wasn’t so clear. At 3pm Peter and I went for a walk, which ended up being about an hour, because I hoped walking around might encourage the capsule to come out faster.

And it did! When we returned at about 4.15pm, I went to the toilet and out it popped, flashing blue in the toilet bowl. Hooray! The capsule hasn’t come out this quickly since before my Whipple surgery. It’s always such a relief when it comes out because I know it’s not stuck, and the battery hasn’t run out in the middle of it still travelling around and taking pictures. It also means I can untangle myself from the cumbersome recording equipment, AND I can put anything I want in my body. I am once again a free woman. So I had some Pepsi and an ice cream sandwich and allowed myself to celebrate. It occurred to me that if the results don’t turn out well, I certainly won’t be celebrating. But that’s a problem for another day, and might not be a problem at all. We have to celebrate the little wins when they come. Every little win is a win. There’s no point just bouncing onto the next worry, especially if it might never come. Find joy now, in getting at least one out of three clear tests, and freedom to eat an ice cream sandwich.