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Sorry for the blog silence over the last few days. I suppose eventually during this adventure I was bound to come up against something I couldn't cope with. I have had a pretty easy ride so far. Some bits have even been enjoyable - the CT scan and choosing lunch from the hospital menu - but then I encountered the PEG.
You already know that I have been dreading it and usually these things turn out to be not as bad as you'd feared.
Not always though!
So I turned up to Ward 107 yesterday at 8am with my little overnight bag and a sense of dread in the pit of my (empty) stomach. They didn't have a bed for me so sent me to the Day Room until they'd had the 8.30am Bed Allocation Meeting. In there I met a chap who was also in for the PEG insertion. I remember that I'd seen him before in the Radiotherapy Suite - he had a CT Scan with his mask just before I did. Another member of the exclusive CUP Club!
We exchanged stories and experiences so far - both very similar. He said that he'd said to his wife the day before "I want this day to go on forever" as he was dreading this morning as much as me. He said also that he was totally determined not to use this thing even though we had to have them put in. I agreed - although I guess one day we might just be glad of them. That's why I hadn't actually refused to have it done - though it was a close-run thing!
He hit the nail on the head when he said the worst thing was that we were going to be awake for the whole procedure. He'd had to stop reading the information leaflet before the end whereas I had read even more on the Internet and watched a video:
I like to know what I'm letting myself in for :-) Nathan said I'm crazy!
A nurse came down and told us that we were being transferred to Ward 105 - which is usually for day cases. It smelt of toast, making me feel hungry despite my nervousness.
So I was taken off to the women's bay as we wished each other luck. I was admitted, with the usual observations - blood pressure, blood sample, temperature and oxygen levels. I received another laser bracelet for my collection and put on the gowns (one forwards, one backwards) and got into bed.
Around 10.30am they came for me! The cheerful men in blue who wheel trolleys with trembling patients to theatre and comatose ones back again. However this time I wasn't going to theatre - I was off to the brand spanking new Endoscopy Suite. They have been moved in there exactly one week. Everywhere is so brilliant white - with the odd pastel coloured wall. I was put in Pod 9. This is like an individual bay. You can tell you're in the new part of the hospital if you're in a Pod :-)
I couldn't see anything except the dazzling bright corridor. I could hear what was going on in Pod 8 though - so tried to concentrate on that instead of what was going to happen next.
There was a sweet-sounding old lady who was in for a colonoscopy. She was worried as she was having frequent bouts of diarrhoea. I bet she'd seen one of those ads on TV right now "blood in your poo or loose poo?" I don't know why but they always make me laugh - something about a grown-up serious man saying "poo" just seems so ridiculous - heehee. Anyway - good on them if they get people to come and get checked out. So she went off to a treatment room, then a few minutes later she was back in the pod. The doctor came back to her, told her she'd done really well and that there was nothing bad in there. She just had diverticulitis which can be treated with antibiotics. She sounded very happy when she left :-) Nice when someone gets some good news.
I was about to get some bad though - as a no-nonsense nurse came in and asked if I knew much about my imminent PEG insertion. I was tempted to say that I'd be abducted by aliens and and have a probe inserted that would stay with me for always. But I just said "not exactly" . She then went into some detail:
I would go into the procedure room, they would pump me full of antibiotics, give me some sedative to make me relax a little (boy I'd need that!) and have some spray squirted on my throat to help me swallow the endoscope. This would go into my stomach, have a mosey around my small intestine just for a look around, then fill my stomach full of air. Then - this is the dramatic bit - they dim the lights! This is so that they can stare at my stomach until they can see the light from the endoscope inside shining through. That's where they dive in with the scalpel and make a hole. They attach a wire (like a cheesewire she helpfully said - which did not fill me with confidence that I'd get out of this alive) the pincers on the endoscope (yes - it's a multi-tool!) will grab the wire and pull it up back through my mouth. They then attach the feeding tube to the wire with some kind of flange on the end to stop it coming out once in place - and then pull on the other end to get it back down my throat and out of the hole they made. Then they pull it out until the flange stops it. Once this is in place they take the endoscope out again.
"See you in there" she said cheerfully as she left.
I lay there taking this all in while another nurse took my blood pressure. "Oh my goodness" she exclaimed "She must have put the fear of God into you - look at that reading it's sky-high."
Pretty soon I was being wheeled along the blinding corridors to Procedure Room 6. They were just about to take me in when everyone came running out of the room saying the ceiling was falling in! Thet were calling the builders, security and even a Fire Marshall turned up. "We'll just park you here while we sort this out" they said as all these men in flourescent jackets rushed in. It seems that one of the big machines on a track on the ceiling - something with lights on and tubes full of bubbling liquids - when moved it actually brought down half the celing tiles!
"We've only been here a week" the head nurse berated the builders "This is your fault!"
They had a look, scratched their heads and then said they could fix it when the room was free. "Well let us do this patient first" pointing at me quaking on my trolley "Then it'll be free. Give us 40 minutes"
As you can guess - this didn't do a lot for my state of mind - although writing about it now is mildly amusing :-)
So I was wheeled in, a canula was put into my arm, antibiotics were put in. They tried to put a mouth guard into my mouth - but it wouldn't fit in! They had to go off and find a child's one before they could start. At last, when everything was ready my throat was sprayed "Bitter taste!" the nurse said and they put the endoscope through the guard and down my throat. There is still some gagging and retching but I was surprised that once they got going it did seem to be over quite quickly. I could feel them pressing on my tummy but the local anaesthetic they put in there meant I didn't feel the cut. It was quite cool when they dimmed the lights though :-)
So I survived and was wheeled back to my pod where I promptly fell asleep for an hour. The sedative had kicked in by then. Hopefully the ceiling got mended.