Thursday 30 January 2014

Be a Pain in the Arse

One of the folks who follow me on Twitter suggested that I do a post about what made me go to the doctor in the first place as it might help people who stumble on the blog do the same. Good idea I thought so here it is. However if you're eating you might want to stop, this is bowel cancer, "icky" comes with the territory.

I'd been feeling a bit tired and lethargic for some weeks and things I'd previously enjoyed like studying for the Open University (I was doing a mathematics degree) were starting to feel like a chore. I didn't think much of it though as it was getting into winter, the weather was miserable and dark and I don't do dark winter too well so I just put it down to a touch of the winter blues. Then a couple of weeks before Christmas the constipation started. Again nothing to worry about really, guzzle a couple of Senokot before bedtime and that'll be fixed. Only it wasn't, my arse end resorted to doing small and frequent micro-poops, very unpleasant cramps accompanied by what can only be described as clear jelly with blood in it. Hmmm... not good but what the hell, it's Christmas, I'll get past that and then we'll see,

Stupid prat of a dragon that I am I put up with three weeks of that before going "well whatever it is I doubt its piles" and trundled off to see my GP who I'd last seen about 5 years ago when I broke a couple of ribs falling off a horse*.  He pokes and prods a bit, shoves a finger up my bum and goes "well it's not constipation" and when I tell him the rest of the symptoms he goes all serious. "You tick all the cancer boxes," he says to me "but I'm not supposed to refer you until you've had these symptoms for six weeks..." 

Here we go I thought, your wonderful NHS death-machine at work...

... "but I'm going to refer you right now." he said, leaping panther-like to his computer keyboard and typing up the referral then and there.  "I just want to be sure, it's unlikely, at your age less than a 10% chance."

Hey I used to suck at passing my saving throws when I played Dungeons and Dragons too.

I guess what I'm trying to say is I had a good GP who was prepared to push the rules a bit. I know the NHS has to ration care but if you do get a change in bowel habit and it lasts more than a couple of weeks then go and see your doctor and be a bastard nuisance. It's your body and they only let you have one. Kick up a fuss, be a squeaky wheel and get yourself seen. Also if you get one of those test yourself kits, use it. I was reading the take up rate is less than 50%. Yes you need to poke around in your poop for a while but hey, just wash your hand afterwards.

This has been a Dragon public service broadcast. Take heed or I'll set you on fire.

* among my many lacks of talent I'm a very keen but lousy horseman.

Wednesday 29 January 2014

Its cancer guys, not leprosy.

I went into work this Monday having taken the previous week off on sick leave so I could get all the tests done. Yes I know I'm "sick" but I can still function and as my job is mainly shuffling ones and zeros into a particular order I'm pretty sure I can do that for now until they start pouring nasty chemicals into me or making holes in me.

To be fair my boss was very understanding and sympathetic when I told him the diagnosis (we've got on well as colleagues for years, even before he became my boss) but he did wonder why I'd come into the office (errrr, because I can?). I told a few other people around the office too when they'd asked where I'd been the previous week and I did get some odd reactions; one in particular started going on about the lead character in the TV series Breaking Bad* but most were "but they caught it early" or "It can be treated can't it?" - I said yes to both questions but in all honesty until I get the scans done and the biopsy results back the honest answer is "I haven't a scooby" - and a general sense of people being uneasy around me, kind of like I was a dead man walking.

Anyway after lunch boss came over and said that I didn't need to be there and he's happy for me to work from home until I get the treatment plan so off I went. Fortunately we don't have much on at work at the moment (lots of reorganisations - won't bore you with the details) so I'll be taking the opportunity to pick up a couple of new skills that might come in useful in the brave new world.

But I can't shake the feeling of there was a sigh of relief when I walked out the door... "Thank God he's gone, he was creeping us out"

* I would not have a clue how to make Meth. I know how to brew beer though, does that help?

Sunday 26 January 2014

The Colonoscopy Diet Plan

Want to lose 3 kilos (six and a half pounds in old money) in two days? Have a colonsocopy!

It's not much of a diet plan I know but last Wednesday, having had a small periscope thing called a sigmoidoscope shoved up my jacksie, they said they needed a proper look with the whizzy camera at the big hospital. No problem there as this camera is a tiny thing at the end of  a fiber-optic line but the kicker is they need you "empty" so they can get some good footage (they probably upload the best bits to YouTube)

So back comes nursie with my invitation to big hospital and a blue box with two sachets of powder in it. "You'll need to take one of these in the morning and one in the afternoon" she says, "stay off work, don't go out and stay near the loo."

Which wasn't quite right, what she should have said was "You might want to run Ethernet to your lav and stream the last two series of Game of Thrones off Netflix because you and your porcelain throne are going to get to be really good friends over the next 24 hours."

Let's jus say last Thursday wasn't the best day in my life although I did get to drink Lucozade like when I was a kid.

Anyway Friday dawns and I weigh myself. 78.5kg, down over three kilos. When you think about it that's an awful lot of stuff working its way through you at any one time. So I'm now allowed to eat again, yay! Trouble is your guts don't seem to like being turned off and on again like your laptop so its rather uncomfortable as everything gets back to normal - plus of course Mr Poo still has to negotiate its way past Mr Tumor and he's still being a bastard so that's uncomfy as well.

However it is giving me a perfect excuse to lounge around on the sofa on a wet Sunday. Might even watch some more Game of Thrones.

Saturday 25 January 2014

"You've Got Cancer"

I'm pretty sure that's what he said, it was quite direct anyway. A few minutes earlier the doctor who just handed down the words nobody ever wants to hear had been fiddling with a camera inside my guts and although I was partly sedated I could see on the screen that they kept returning to this white blob, eventually squirting it with something that made it into a black blob.

I should have figured at the time the gig was up, I blame the happy drugs they gave me as I was away with the unicorns ;)

The Mrs, who we'll call Tiger in this blog* took this news rather worse than I did (in fact I think my only response at the time was to go "On, that sucks" - unicorns you see) and for some reason the doctor giving me the news then seemed to address everything else to her. I almost felt like saying "Hey dude, I'm the one with the disease, remember?" but as I'm currently learning the mere mention of the "The C Word" seems to have the power to make everyone lose their marbles.

So anywhere there you go, that's how this got started.

I'm really not expecting anyone to read this blog, it's really just for me to scribble down thoughts and feelings and get shit off my chest. Hopefully thought it'll be a bit factual if you're going through something similar and maybe I'll squeeze an off-colour joke or two to do with bowel functions that'll make you smile.

But anyway, the colonoscopy is done, the pain killers have worn off and I'm still pretty stoical about the whole thing. I'm not in denial, I know it's there and it's serious its just I seem to have skipped the whole "seven stages of grief" stuff** and gone straight to acceptance (do not pass Go, do not collect £200). I'm just waiting for the next set of tests - that's a CAT scan scheduled for next week - and then all the clever doctors get together to decide a plan of action for treatment.

I'll probably start wibbling around then.

* because its not her name and it gives me the opportunity for very lame "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" based puns going forward.

** do not take that website seriously, they've used Comic Sans, the typeface of morons.