Archive for September, 2011

Ahhh, my good friend the endoscope. Well, I say friend – you’re more like an annoyance who somehow keeps working their way into my life… And body.

On Friday 16 September I travelled up to the lovely new Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham for an endoscopic ultrasound. I was asked to have this procedure by Dr Ferguson and his team as they wanted a better look at my bile ducts.

He said this was only to give them more information – but I know they we taking a closer look at them just to make sure that there was no cancer. Which there isn’t. So YAY for that.

Firstly, I really most congratulate the NHS Trust in Birmingham for creating an amazing hospital. The building itself is breath-taking; and seeing it surrounded by all the old red-brick buildings gives the whole place a sense of history.

On the inside – and I mean this is a positive way – the place looks like a airport. I really wouldn’t be surprised if a Tie Rack popped up around one corner or that there was a duty free shop that sold those huge Toblerones.

I wandered down a big open… concourse would be the only word to describe it… until I came across the endoscopic out-patient department. I was greeted by a lovely lady who booked me and and no sooner had I sat down in the waiting area did I have a nurse calling my name asking me to come through to get prepared.

Anyone who has a procedure in hospital knows what happens next – lots of waiting. But after that I was taken into the room where it would all happen.

The nurses did their best to comfort me – but we all knew what was coming. A big tube was going to be forced down my throat. There really is no way to get around that – or to get around the fact that at least one of the nurses is there to hold you down.

The doctor, just before he was about to start did ask me if I had any issues with blood. When I explained that my clotting was usually slow due to my stupid liver there was a minor panic as he called for some strange machine. A couple of pricks on the finger later and I guess he was happy as we started.

Before they injected the sedative into me I was asked if I wanted the numbing spray in my throat. In accordance with Mark’s first law of hospitals (If you are offered any drugs take them. You are being offered them as the doctor, if they were in your position, would want them) I said yes.

It wasn’t bad. It tasted like banana mixed with chilli. Really not bad at all.

I was then given the sedative and expected that to be the end of what I remember… unfortunately not so. It seems that I have a much higher tolerance to the sedative than most people.

In Oxford for my ERCP I ‘woke up’ multiple times. In this case it really didn’t do anything other than make me slightly woozy. That was it. They kept giving me more and more and at the end they said that they had given me twice the usual maximum dose.

The procedure, for those interested, involves the insertion of the endoscope tube (about the width of your index finger) into the throat, down the oesophagus, into the stomach and out the other side. When there they inflate a small balloon and then a special receiver takes ultrasound images from the inside.

There is a lot of jiggling and moving backwards and forwards as they get multiple images.

I am sure that if the sedative had worked as it was meant to I would have had no problem.

I have another endoscope scheduled for Monday 3 October – this one is to look for oesophageal varices so it shouldn’t take as long. Hopefully.


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It was my birthday! Wooo!

I love birthdays. I am now officially 28 years old, which is just so cool.

I remember when I was a kid and thinking about how far away those numbers were, and now I am here. I don’t know why but I find that so cool. And now, at the age of 28 I look at numbers such as 50 and think about how far away they are. How cool will it be to be them? So cool.

But, will I get to be them? It’s odd, at the age of 28, to be contemplating my own mortality.

A liver transplant is a big operation with lots of things that can go wrong. It’s the kind of operation where they don’t just give you survival statistics, they break it down for you:

Liver transplant survival statistics

The overall 1-year survival rate of liver transplant recipients who receive an organ from deceased donor exceeds 86%, with 5-year survival rates almost 72%

There is no exact model to predict survival rates; however, those with transplant have a 58% chance of surviving 15 years.

Cheery, hey.

Then you have all the medication I get put on afterwards, which could cause a reaction. Or I get an infection that I can’t fight off.

And that is just assuming I get a liver. It’s possible that I may not.

I am still waiting on the transplant coordinators getting in contact to let me know when my assessment is. The referral went to them 3 weeks ago today.

It’s possible that I may get on the list but a liver doesn’t come up in time.

But I am trying to push all of that thinking out of my head. Why dwell on that. I would rather dwell on where I am going to take Joe on our honeymoon when I get better.

So, while my mind occasionally wanders to possible end-case scenarios, you’ll probably mostly find me thinking about birthday presents and holidays.

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