Gastroscopy timeline (educational but not so fun)

Oversharing warning!!!

Description of an unpleasant medical procedure on a health anxiety sufferer – Get out now while you still can and go read about puppies instead!

Ever wondered what it’s like to have a camera down your throat? Well, it’s about as fun as you imagine it to be, but it’s not painful, and it’s not deadly and even a freakshow like me can go through with it whilst conscious…so…I reckon pretty much anyone can do it.

Here’s my timeline:

T-6 hours, breakfast and 1mg diazepam 

T-2 hours, last water plus 2mg diazepam

T-1 hour, leave for the hospital

T,  taken for blood pressure and pulse check 

T+45 mins, still browsing the oatmeal for amusing distractions, wishing i’d taken more valium

T+50 mins, taken to the theatre

T+55 mins given lidocaine throat spray and description of what will happen, seriously wishing i’d taken more valium.

T+60 mins, mouth guard in, tube in, and around 4 mins of weirdness and wretching while I hyperventilated and set off the heartrate alarm and the consultant took a video and three biopsies. I wasn’t allowed to watch the screen while they did it 😦 

T+65 mins, breathing and heartrate returning back to normal, results explained (stomach polyps, no sign of reflux), and released home.

T+4 hours, unnecessary irrational concern that the sudden rise in heart rate might have caused damage. 

T+13 hours, wake up overheated, wander around looking for thermometer in case I have a deadly fever. Cant find one, go back to sleep because it’s probably just the valium wearing off. 

T+18 hours, eat breakfast but discover mild vague stomach soreness and consider perforation, cancel horse riding, even though it’s probably muscular pain from the wretching.

T+20 hours, order myself a cute handbag as a reward for being so brave yesterday

T+24 hours, observe dull heartburny chest discomfort that I worry is either my heart or some esophageal tear. Take gaviscon, it gets better.

T+30 hours, starting to get a grip because I’m not displaying any dangerous symptoms…still checkimg temperature and avoiding exertion :/

****

I’m intrigued as to the biopsy results but expect them to be normal..Someone could have told me they were going to check for celiac because I’ve been gluten free for over a month! I also anticipate another day or so of vague discomfort while my insides heal from the bruising and the little fleshy chunks they cut out. Lets be honest here through, even if these mild and largely non-worrysome symptoms don’t improve overnight I’ll still be on the phone for some medical reassurance as soon and the department opens tomorrow! I like to get my money’s worth out of the NHS!
 

Phew! What an adventure. I’m glad I did it, but I’m not voulenteering for another any time soon. I highly recommend the sedative that I declined this time. If there’s a next time I want to be out cold (as long as I can control my tube pulling-out reflex).

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In which I forgive myself and don’t refer to myself as a pathetic idiot

If you get triggered by descriptions of medical procedures then probably don’t read this…

Today was hard for me. I mean really hard. I had to go for a hospital procedure that is basically my idea of hell. I’ve been losing sleep and taken up a whole therapy session fretting over it. Despite much reassurance my anxiety rather got the better or me. I was pretty much holding it together right until I went for some admission tests, y’know the boring blood pressure etc and then the eye faucet was opened. 
Oh dear. Well that wasn’t super helpful but I was unreasonably stressed and couldn’t understand the nurse very well (a combination of anxiety worsening my attention, and a nurse with hayfever and a heavy accent). 

I got my shit together and read my kindle for a bit. An elderly lady with a stick was ushered in and asked to change into a gown. I wondered if she was agile enough to change herself but she managed it OK. As I was called to have the canula put in I got freaked out and the lovely nurse was very nice to me while I sobbed about stopping breathing and dying…so I was put back in the waiting room uncanulated. Being somewhat teary I got a concerned look from the old lady across from me. Despite the effort for her to get up and hobble over to me, she did so and gave me a hug, asking of I was OK. In her thick Scottish accent she told me she was 90 years old had stomach surgery for cancer 40 years ago and had been a regular attendee at the clinic ever since. She said I’d be fine and I almost believed her. People can be so lovely.

I went through to the theatre and the nurse in charge of the actual tube down throat manoeuvre tried to calm me and with some hesitation I agreed to them going ahead. I was shaking so much that no sedation was out of the question.  It took three nurses and three attempts to get the stupid canula in due to being dehydrated. So that was a bit painful and sore so I got dizzy and teary again. They sprayed some godawful demon banana flavoured anaesthetic down my throat, flushed out the canula with saline then gave me sedative, within a couple of seconds I was relaxed, they put in a mouth guard and then I came to in the recovery area a few mins later. 

Apparently it did not got to plan.
Sedated pickledsparklymooseprincess did not enjoy having a camera being pushed down her throat and so she started trying to pull it out with her hands. I don’t know how many times they tried or how much sedative they gave me, I asked why they didn’t just hold my arms down but during the chat the head nurse had with me afterwards. She rather suggested that I was uncontrollably uncomfortable and it was impossible for them to restrain me enough go continue.
Eek.
So basically I went though all the hunger, thirst, build up, the tears, the stress, fear, needles, sedation and presumably gagging, plus associated throat soreness that come free with the procedure without ACTUALLY managing to have it done. 

A large part of me is disappointed and not very sympathetic about this turn of events, however I am proud of myself for agreeing to the procedure, going to the hospital, having the canula put in, having sedation and trying to have the scope. Sadly it wasn’t my day and I might need a general anaesthetic if they decide I really need it done that badly.
So there we have it. Not what anyone wanted but I almost made it. On the plus side I’ll be less scared of canuli and sedation now (and hospital procedures in general). So for the next few days I’ll be stopping myself mid-thought when the words idiot, stupid or pathetic come to mind. Lets face it, this was not a pleasant morning but I got through it and even without the rose tinting of time, would try again (though the nurses may disagree!) 

Posting and trotting

I’ve been having quite a run of creative and at least partially edited stuffage on the other side, but as I only ever intended to post there every two weeks or so I think I need to cool it, lest I start to post even poorer quality efforts due to the growing addiction to the satisfaction of being able to press ‘publish immediately’.

I like to think I am making some progress regarding attempts to add a sense of movement and progression into my short story-esque scenes, but there is always this overwhelming sense of stagnation and treading water, like my characters are trapped in a moment. It’s a terrible bind to have so many strong emotions and thoughts to set down, but no storytelling skill at all.

Just ask my colleagues. I can’t tell them about anything withour their eyes wandering and yawns setting in. My pub banter is atrocious. Even if I’ve done something awesome, my ridiculous on-the-spot loss of verbal command leaves me and everyone else wondering why I was trying so hard when I am clearly just not novelist material. 

Anyway, enough about that here’s an example for you. My four legged ride was determined to test me this weekend….having still not quite recovered from broken-nose-gate, whenever his royal highness is feeling a bit fresh it sets my anxiety off big time. Last weekend’s ride waw lovely and reassuraning with controlled, sedate canters down the bridleways and good communication. This week was quite another story. I bravely opted for a route that when last week took it, the horses took off at high speed (with me almost being taken out by a low branch that I hadn’t noticed coming up) and wracked my nerves but I figured I have to challenge that. Unfortunately It was not the right day. If you’ve ever ridden before you may he familiar with the turn for home causing a massive increase in speed and enthusiasm, so when we did just that and had a nice open stretch in front of us the horses were dead set on having a big old race. Now. I wasn’t up for that, so we tried to make them walk, but actually ended up more jogging along and having to turn them into the hedge and stand there a bit a few times to chill them out. Nevertheless the temptation was just too much for them at one point and sparked off each other they bombed into a fast canter that took quite some strides to pull them up from. Most of the rest of the journey I felt like I had a horse with no head, he was behind the bit and not in contact with me, so no communication there, and I kept having odd flushes of worry that he’d bolt and dump me on the floor. Of course being spring with the grass shooting up both horses were in fine spring-loaded form, but aside from that one burst of unwarranted cantering, they just about coped with just walking and trotting the rest of the way home, even though they were visibly frustrated about it. I was half tempted to just jump out of the saddle and run away at one point but I stayed put and rode it out (ha!). My point is that despite being a little suboptimal on the communication and control side of things, I could handle Buster well enough to prevent a bolting situation, and by the time we got home we had both calmed back down to normal levels and I handed over the requisite number of polo mints for a ride well survived. Obviously I was kind of scared for a chunk if the ride, but I’m clearly not as wretched as a rider as I think as we actually did just fine overall. Next time I just have to remember that I can cope, and that my steed is in fact a (slightly hyperactive) superstar and not a monsterous bucking/bolting machine.

Today I spent however many hours there are in the second half of season five of Haven, watching TV. It’s OK,  I got up regularly to make cups of tea so I didn’t get DVT so I call that a bank holiday Monday well spent.

Laboring through the inevitable fear

The end started its approach on Monday, it didn’t take long to pick up momentum, waves of sticky and infectious anticipation slamming relentlessly into me. That was when I first realised that I’m dying.

I feel my heart atrophy, burning into ischaemia after every cup of coffee, every sip of wine,
Each faltering beat convulsed with another gripping stab in my chest that is far too severe and rhythmic to be heartburn.

A narrow escape lets me see Tuesday.

Just when I think the coast is clear, I feel my chest implode and I can’t breathe, some heavy cinch has grasped me tight, and the blood rushes faster as I struggle to inhale, shoulders to my ears but lowering won’t help me, aren’t you listening to me? I can’t damned well breathe!!!

A fluke recovery meant Wednesday rose to met me.

But in Wednesday’s maw is a terrible fate. Into a small cut that I obtained, leapt staphylococcus and streptococcus. They swim from that cut right up to my brain! Lending headaches and feverish ranting as my grey matter becomes violently colonised.

I don’t know how I survived that meningococcal experience, but Thursday knocked on my door nonetheless.

The sun rises with a stab in my thigh, a throbbing ache that portents of a clot. Perhaps I didn’t move all night, and as I rub to test if it’s muscular, the clot detaches and heads for my lungs.  shortness of breath is quick to follow, accompanied by dizziness and all things severe, but once the worst of the embolism is passed, I get out of bed and cycle my weary self to work.

Friday approaches with a rash in tow and infact on my toe, but I’ve had enough. I’ve already had two strokes, five ulcers, two brain haemorrhages, pneumonia and toxic shock this month, No-one can be expected to die every day of the working week. I’ll resign from the Billy Witch council, I’ll join health anxiety anonymous, I’ll write poems in strawberry shampoo, paint a platypus on my knee, whatever you want, just fucking get me off this adrenalin-sapping horror show!

Maybe let me Google that rash first though first, just in case…..

Mingling with anxiety

image

Dear person who I have not yet met,

When I first see you I am intimidated, I see all the traits that you have and I do not. My heart races regardless of who you are.

When you make eye contact with me I want to run away because I believe you are either about to humiliate me, or have mistaken me for someone else.

When you walk towards me, my stomach flips over and I want to vomit because I’m afraid that you are going to do or say something that will make me feel inferior.

When you speak to me, I can’t focus on what you are saying because I’m too busy forcing myself to stand still and not shake.

When you smile at me, I can’t breathe and I feel paranoid that you are actually laughing at me, or smiling at someone else behind me.

When I need to reply to you my mouth fills with the sand that is trickling out of my brain. I’m so scared of saying something stupid that I crack a ridiculously poor joke instead, then replay what I’ve just said over and over, thereby missing what you said next :/ sorry…

When you try to ask me questions about myself I give short answers because I don’t think I’m interesting enough to warrant longer ones. I’m also too busy stopping myself from fidgeting to remember much more than my name and date of birth.

When I ask repetitive questions about you I’m not obsessive, I just need a few seconds to gather my thoughts because my cerebral hamster wheel has got all tangled up.

When you look over my shoulder at someone else I panic that you don’t like me, so I do something weird to grab your attention, like pull a strange face or say something inflammatory that I don’t even mean.

When I look over your shoulder at someone else it probably isn’t because I’m bored it’s because I’m looking out for assassins and trying to get respite from your focus.

When you walk away I can breathe again and recommerce being awkward without an immediate audience.

When you walk away I wish you hadn’t left so soon

I know there are more interesting, intelligent and attractive people out there for you to meet who won’t require so much effort.

Damn, meeting new people is exhausting when you crave social interactions but yet are terrified. It was so much easier when I could drink alcohol. I wonder, does everyone else feel the same?

If you know me already we can hopefully (but not always) skip the foreplay and I can just stand awkwardly and limpet-like beside you while you roll your eyes until such a time as it is almost socially acceptable for me to run away and hide.

Blah mental ouch blah

image

Now I wait.
I wait to discover whether the miasmic pain and fatigue of late are from a source physical or psychological. Bets are still being taken. My money is split between anxiety-provoked organ dysfunction and wholesale pancreatitus.  Thanks Dr Google. You always know just what to say at times like this. GPs money is on gastritis (again?Oh come on that’s just not fair!)

I wonder how the psychological asessment process designed for grossly normal people who are stressed or depressed, will cope with all of this (gestures to ludicrous potentially staph infected face). It doesn’t bode particularly well that they didn’t want to see me initially because of my eating disorder history, but I’m certainly not going to go knocking on ED services’ door for health anxiety help!
To be honest I’m a bit nervous about this whole thing. Nervous in an uncharacteristically rational way.
I haven’t had a psychiatric or psychological assessment like this for quite a few years and the last one didn’t go so well. I fell into the gap between two services that wouldn’t help me and so wound up going private. The contradictory stories were that I was too complicated for one department buy not sick enough for the other. Sigh. I’ll have to get the balance right this time.

The form I had to pre-complete scores me as moderately severely depressed and moderately severely blighted with general anxiety disorder.
How weird. I don’t feel that depressed. I haven’t thought about killing myself or anything equally dire for ages, I can still get out of bed of a morning and haven’t gone into the weird slow motion utter braindead phase, so I figure I’m just fine on that front. Adequately functional thank you. Hopefully they won’t try to focus on that shit because this level of depressed or non- is actually perfectly tolerable. What is not tolerable is freaking out at stupid illnesses that I will never get, and about going somewhere where I will have to interact with actual people in a social setting. I really want to be able to do that…to be able to go to a party and not spend the whole time nauseously shaking and clenching my every muscle for fear of falling apart, and double thinking every damned word and movement for fear of rejection or inadvertently falling dreadfully ill. I’m such a shit person to go to the pub with. Seriously. That 1 in 100 times I actually go and don’t make some lame excuse, it’s really not worth it for everyone else’s comfort and conversation! It would be easier if I could have a few drinks and be less of a corner-hugging wide-eyed weirdo but sadly my current internal organ rebellion refuses to allow even than concession. If anxiety is to blame I’ll be pissed off. Bastard self-preserving anxiety stopping me from tolerating cns depressants.

Checking my grades for the phobias and social adjustment mcq it says I have severe social functional impairment (no shit) and who knows what the phobia questions say.

Yuck. All those categories. I know how the game works though. I’m supposed to have lower scores at the end of whatever course they give me. If they even so much as suggest I also still have an eating disorder, I’m likely to punch them in the face. Ok maybe not but at the very least I won’t be impressed.

Creativity has taken a hiatus while I try to figure this mess out. The prize for most unremarkable post of the day goes to me and my tireless fear of life and death.

Stasis

The faces I once knew are scattered across existence. Stretching from the tangible present into the ethereal realms of what comes after, and what remains inside. Each one working their way into something better, something stronger, something more complete. A thousand sets of invisible footprints splaying out from where I stand, reaching out into rich dreams and luxuriant landscapes. Here I stand alone, and spinning, watching you ride on away, and you don’t even look back. Maybe I told you, and maybe I didn’t. Maybe I never spoke the words so you understood that I needed you here. But maybe you chose to stay away from this stagnant ground. Word upon word echoing around asking what comes next. Every path is rigged with disappointment, every blade in-between, with despair. I’m losing you all in the depth of the spaces between us. I’m crippled with fears that prevent me from running to meet you. Each step is like singeing my soles. For now I’m incarcerated in a prison of my own dread. No-one warns you about how scarred you can be, even once you are healed.

“Just a little breath on the water now
Just a little strength in our hearts,
Enough to heal”