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[personal profile] mumsisdaughter you've been warned! Or you could bypass the details and look at some lovely photos from our Norfolk break :D

In England we have the Bowel Cancer Screening Programme for everyone aged over 60. Every two years, a screening kit is sent through the post and once completed (it involves cardboard implements and a set of 6 sealable windows...imagine the rest) it is sent back. The test looks for blood in bowel products. At 60, everything was normal. This time round the test was unclear so I had to repeat it and I was told that was also unclear.

Very quickly the NHS rode into action. Within the week, I received an invitation to meet with a Specialist Screening Practitioner for the following week. That was the week we were going to Norfolk for our first break in 4 years so I rang and was given a meeting for the week after. That was last Thursday.

Very good meeting, explaining the whys, wherefores and hows of a colonoscopy. The husband was with me, for which I was grateful. Then we watched a laptop presentation of what would happen and what would be done if something untoward was found...laser, biopsy etc.

I'm an optimistic character by nature so was not unduly concerned. 30% of such procedures find nothing. Only 10% find a malignant tumour. Then she asked me to choose one of four local hospitals accredited to perform the procedure. When the husband and I chose Chorley she said, "Good, there's been a cancellation. Monday 3pm." Wow, suddenly it was happening! Rather glad I didn't have to wait and get nervous, in retrospect.

Strict diet for Saturday and Sunday until 5pm; the only drinks from a list. Black tea is not my favourite drink. Anyway, THEN came the first of 4 packets of a laxative powder to be dissolved in a litre of water and drunk over an hour followed by a second an hour later. This is REALLY not my favourite drink. It worked though!

Next morning, 2 more packets in 2 more litres of water with the expected effect! By the time we arrived at Chorley and South Ribble Hospital (they need the advert; compassionate people there), I was completely empty. Admission details checked, consent form signed, lower half stripped of clothing and garbed with enormous, navy blue paper shorts with a rear opening (no, I didn't take photos!) then into the Procedure Room. There are two teams working there all day and everyday and between them they perform up to 40 procedures a day. That's a lot of arse, as the husband said.

There were 4 nurses and the consultant in the room with me and all were so kind and reassuring. I opted for light sedation and rolled onto my left side(back problems so my physio had asked for and I was given 3 pillows to support various parts of my body).

The actual instrument is worth £40,000! It is a steerable, flexible tube containing a light, a camera, a carbon dioxide tube for inflating the bends in the colon, a water tube for flushing, a cauterising loop, a laser and a biopsy cutter. And that doesn't count the special cleansing unit for afterwards. I asked how new this procedure is and he said when he was training it was just a footnote to say it might be possible in the future. He became a surgeon then specialised in colonoscopy as the machinery was developed. He has performed 9000 of them!

I could see the same screen the consultant was watching, which I think helped me relax. Fascinating view of one's own body not normally seen! As well as the camera screen, there is a graphic showing the position and shape that the instrument was contorting into. 70cm of flexible tube inside at the furthest point!!! The bends were the most painful point to be negotiated as the gas inflated the colon but the consultant kept talking to me and one of the nurses asked me questions to distract me.

The procedure took about 20 minutes. His fastest ever was 48 seconds! His longest over an hour, if cauterising and biopsies were required. The good news is everything appeared normal :) The bad news is now I have a haemorrhoid, which is very uncomfortable :(

Then the bed was wheeled into the recovery room, where my blood pressure was monitored until it rose back to pre-op level. THEN a cup of tea and two biscuits! All told I had been there 2 and a half hours. I was given the official paperwork to say I was okay then I redressed and handed back the fashion!shorts for disposal and was released back to the husband, who had to keep his eye on me for the next 12 hours. One of the nurses rang me the next day and went through a checklist with me to make sure I had no after-effects. (I've to go to my GP if the haemorrhoid doesn't calm down within the week.)

Not a procedure I'd like to go through again BUT I'm so proud of our NHS and the speed with which they sprang into action.

The reason for two unclear test results? He had no idea, except it could be something as simple as bleeding gums! Both tests had been conducted within a few weeks of my regular dental checkup. Anyway, back on the Bowel Cancer Screening Programme so won't be tested for another 2 years.

I'm not sure which of these three I'd like to live in :D

 photo HPIM0636_zpslsxfyo7e.jpg
Great Bircham working windmill

Oxburgh Castle photo 100_0252_zpsdwducsmy.jpg
Oxburgh Castle

West Stow Anglo-Saxon house photo 100_0267_zpsebnudsi7.jpg
West Stow Anglo-Saxon village

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