The little Big C

As I’ve said frequently before: It’s been a funny old year…

I am rapidly approaching the age where the NHS tend to think that you’re past it and delete you from their various bodily monitoring programmes, so I was, in fact, quite surprised when the little ‘shit test’ package dropped through the letterbox.

Normally I tend to ignore these until my conscience nags enough, but in this case I thought ‘It’s probably the last one I’ll get: let’s just get it over with’, so I took the sample, sent it off and forgot about it.

Until, that is, I get a letter from the shit monitoring team saying “Come and have a chat…”  Gulp!

So I hike off down to the not-very-local Hospital to have a talk to the monitoring team.  They want me to have a scan and a colonoscopy.  Oh, shit – to coin an appropriate phrase.

Scan scanned and colonoscopy scoped, I wait on tenterhooks: such hooks being sharpened by the ‘scopist saying “Interesting… what’s that?” and taking some samples and tattooing the inside of my colon: so they could find it again, they said…

More wait, but remarkably short, and I get summoned back to meet the surgeon: a lovely girl – and she is, scarcely out of College, to my jaundiced eye – who tells me that the sample proved positive and that she wants to lop out a section of my bowel: fortunately, only a small section, just near the bottom – if you’ll excuse the phrase – end.  She says it should be simple and straighforward (goody!) and done with keyhole surgery, so no prick-to-chin incisions…

Back home, both Mo and I start to feel a bit ‘queer’: chesty, coughy, fevery.  A quick test and – bollocks: we’ve both caught Covid from the bloody hospital!

Contact surgery team who say “Oh, dear: we would have done you in a couple of weeks time, but now we can’t do you until at least seven weeks after you test clear.  Sorry!”

Sorry they might be: I’m sorrier!  Still, the ‘lesion’ can’t be seen on the CAT scan as it’s too small, so I’m hopeful.  Most bowel cancers are slow growing so a six week delay in my op date won’t make a difference: will it?

Covid is short, if not sweet, and in less than two weeks we’re both clear.  I, however, have the grandaddy of a sore throat: sufficiently bad that I need antibiotics.  Great.  Still: it doesn’t last more than another couple of weeks, and now it’s all downhill to the op…

In to hospital at the end of March, for a five-night stay.  I must admit that I was surprised that I was given a private room (‘Private’ being slightly misleading, as the blinds to the corridor are left permanenetly open, presumably so passing medics can see if I’ve unexpectedly croaked!), but it’s quiet and comfortable (despite frequent visits from nurses and others to take samples, give jabs and food and check that I’m still compos-mentis as well as breathing…)

I appear to have four scars: a big one below the navel, which has been sewn up as though it had a drawstring: it looked as if it had been cut with one of those wavy-chip cutters that were all the rage a while back.  The others were small and straight: one on the left and two on the right: one on the ‘bikini line’ and the other at waist level.  Still the analgesia was effective and they didn’t seem to be leaking (although, as they were covered by some spray-on plastic they would have struggled to leak!)

Surgeon’s flunky arrives to tell me that it’s ‘all done’ and samples have been sent to the lab: so that’s all right, then.

It’s a bit strange that every nurse that visits askes if I’ve ‘passed wind’ and seem unnaturally happy when I admit that I have: copiously!

They then switch their attention to  my achieving a ‘bowel motion’.  More of an issue, as that part of my gut seems to have gone on strike, and despite them stuffing (remarkably nice) food in one end, nothing appears at the other.  I guess that the inflammation has sort of sealed the colon off…

Anyway, on the day I’m due to be cast forth, the required ‘motion’ occurs.  Medical smiles all round and I’m quickly loaded onto a wheelchair and wheeled down to ‘Discharge’.  I was glad of that wheelchair as, despite having done a reasonable amount of walking around the ward, it was bloody miles!

Wife arrived, loads me into the car and I’m free!

More to follow (ad nauseam): watch this space…

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