Have you every received a bowel testing kit? One of those nice little gifts our wonderful NHS sends out to you to celebrate your 60th birthday? My husband received his nearly two years ago. And for eighteen months, I nagged him to complete it and send it back. Well, finally, he did. And that’s when everything kicked off.
I finally had a minor meltdown, and my husband reluctantly got on with it. Neither of us were expecting any problems. That was until we received his results. Blood had been discovered in the samples!
Still, we tried not to worry. More often than not, the colonoscopy that was due to follow would reveal cancer in only about 9% of cases, according to the bumpf we were sent. Nevertheless, we couldn’t completely ignore those nasty little niggles in the back of our brains. In addition, it didn’t sound like the procedure would be a lot of fun. Neither did my husband relish the pre-colonoscopy drinks to clear out the contents of his bowel – although in the event, the Moviprep wasn’t nearly as bad as either of us had feared. He had to self-isolate, as did I, for a week before his appointment. The test was less pleasant but bearable, but to our consternation, revealed that Iain had three polyps. Two were small and showed no sign of cancer. these were easily removed during the colonoscopy. the third one was a different matter.
Iain’s neglect had allowed one of the polyps to grow to a size of 55mm which meant major surgery. More anxious waiting.
His operation was scheduled for 7th Oct. All should have gone well, but he developed very low blood pressure during the operation which took three days in intensive care to stabilise, and meant they had to stick him back together in double-quick time, so instead of a neat sewing job, they used a surgical staple gun on him which has given him a very Frankensteinesque appearance, lol. And a LOT of bruising!
He should have been out of hospital several days sooner as this is usually a straightforward operation, but his blood pressure issues had held up his recovery. Finally, he was able to be discharged last Thursday feeling very sore and sorry for himself (with good reason) and still sporting his staples – all 25 of them! To say he was glad to be home and that I was glad to see him again was an understatement – especially as UK residents will understand, because in this plague year, no visitors are permitted in our hospitals. Although he was so poorly when he was in intensive care that I was allowed one hour-long visit. These are only allowed on compassionate grounds, so you can guess how sick he was.
Happily, he is now on the long road to recovery. His staples have been removed, what’s left of his colon appears to be functioning normally, and, better yet, the huge polyps, when removed and tested, showed no sign of the pre-cancerous cells becoming cancerous.
It’s taken a lot out of him, and he may take up to two months to recover. Certainly, it will be at least two more weeks until he is allowed to drive again – or indeed will feel well enough to want to try.
And now, we come to the moral of the story. Had Iain responded to his test kit sooner, it’s possible that massive polyps would have been a little smaller and been able to be removed by colonoscopy instead of major surgery. Had he delayed much longer, those pre-cancerous cells might have become cancerous. We’ve since discovered many of our friends and family have never used the kits sent out to them, but many of them have now taken warning from what happened to Iain and finally actioned their own kits.
DO IT NOW!
If you’ve received your bowel testing kit, please do not delay. It may be a tad embarrassing, but it only takes a couple of minutes or less to complete. Don’t put it on a shelf and forget about it. Iain has been comparatively lucky, but it’s possible he and I could both have been saved a lot of worry, and he could have been fixed with a minor procedure instead of major surgery. Don’t take the chance. Send off your kit – do it now!
Just two of the pictures of Iain’s many scars.