Hey… relax. It’s not as bad as that but if you’re squeamish about medical things, then this blog isn’t for you. Click back and I’ll see you next time.
Let’s start at the beginning. I’ve been suffering for a very long time with heartburn type feelings and lots and lots of sore throats and regular antibiotics. It’s been unpleasant and although I hate anything to do with hospitals, I knew I had to get myself checked out. So I was referred to Oxford Churchill hospital, under the care of a very lovely consultant and very caring nurse to make sure nothing untoward was occurring.
Back in September I had what is called a barium meal or barium swallow or sometimes known as an upper GI. It’s not a nice test. You are taken into an X-ray room and you stand in front of the X-ray machine whilst the radiologist hands you a cup of frothy foaming white ‘stuff’. Barium. It’s supposedly fruit flavoured, but it’s not in the least bit appetising. It’s supposed to be a drink but it’s bloody hard to swallow, it’s like drinking froth. But they make you hold a massive mouthful in your mouth and then start taking a series of X-ray images and then instruct you to swallow so they can see the barium as it travels down from your mouth to your stomach. Then repeat and repeat again. Yuk.
After the distractions of our family holiday abroad, Christmas and New Year, I knew I couldn’t ignore the problems, they were still there and not getting any better. Another course of antibiotics down, feeling better for a week and then back to square one.
The team in Oxford agreed that an upper endoscopy or a gastroscopy was the next port of call. A procedure where a camera is placed inside your mouth, swallowed and then is manoeuvred down your oesophagus and into your stomach. An upper endoscopy gives the consultant a clear inside view and ability to check out the health of everything from the throat down.
So the day came. I knew from the information booklet that I had to be nil by mouth for six hours before my admission. That being set for 3pm meant that I had to go most of the day as usual and travelling to Oxford without any food or water. It sure wasn’t easy but I got there!
Arrived in the waiting room and was met by a nurse who wanted to check all my paperwork, my understanding of the procedure and a general check on my blood pressure and oxygen levels. My blood pressure was reassuringly steady, considering how much I was bricking it.
I then met the consultant and junior doctor who explained I had a choice of doing the test under an anaesthetic throat spray, being completely conscious throughout or I could be sedated so I would be peaceful and barely aware of what was happening. I’m sorry to say I am a complete wuss and the thought of gagging over something down my throat, no matter how numb they make it was out of the question. I opted for sedation and was aware that it meant a few more risks and longer recovery time on the ward.
When I was led into the endoscopy suite, it looked a little bit like a theatre. Bed in the middle. Heart monitors, oxygen tanks, nurses looking busy. But what wasn’t usual was the big massive computer looking box next to the bed with big black cables sticking out of it. That was the machine that was going down my throat?! Eek!
I was extremely nervous as they got me to lay down on my side on the bed. I had a cannula placed in my arm and oxygen tubes resting on my nose. They placed a big waterproof sheet under my head. The nurse giggled and said “this is to stop you dribbling all over yourself”. A plastic mouth guard was fastened around my head and between my teeth, it felt very strange. And then I was told that the sedative was being administered. I was waiting, waiting for the warm feeling of sedation coming over my brain – but it didn’t come. I must admit I started to panic as they were already introducing the camera down my throat and I didn’t like it one bit. I flinched, unable to talk but thankfully I heard the consultant say to someone “administer more sedative” or something along those lines and that’s the last I remember.
I came to in the recovery ward, didn’t feel too bad at all. A little groggy but definitely more alert than I anticipated. A nurse kept check on my blood pressure and seeing if I felt ok. Also a big thank you to her as she saw me shivering and brought me another blanket. It’s the little things that make you feel safe and looked after. It’s crazy that after all day without food or water – I now had zero appetite. I struggled down a few mouthfuls of tea and a biscuit that the nurse had brought me but it wasn’t pleasurable. Not from pain, just a strange feeling inside.
When I felt more myself I was allowed to get up and get ready to discharge with the departments contact details in case I developed any post procedure complications. I got myself home and wrapped up in my big fleecy blanket. My husband ordered us a Domino’s Pizza. I’m still not hungry but I knew as I’ve not eaten all day that I should try something and managed a few bites.
Hopefully tomorrow I’ll be back, appetite and all.