My New Best Friend

Foolishly, I promised to update the blog today, a promise made during the euphoria of a return home after three days in hospital. Once that euphoria had worn off, the severe exhaustion kicked in. Even though you don’t exactly exert yourself whilst in hospital, it can be exhausting, and despite the fact that you spend the majority of time in or on your bed, decent sleep is at a premium. It’s a hospital after all, they are busy. People are ill at the most inconvenient times of the day and night, and without question, there is always someone there to help them, whatever time it’s needed. Just a week or so ago I was the grateful recipient of the round the clock attention, disturbing other peoples sleep. This week it was my sleep that’s been disturbed, so I’m not going to complain.

One of the first things that was noticed on my re-admission to the ward was my dramatic weight loss. 6kg in 10 days. This resulted in a drip to pump whatever it was I am missing back into my body. The effect of having a drip alone guarantees a disturbed nights sleep. Apart from the pain of the needle bending in your arm as you move during the night, there’s that irritating bleeping alarm when you inadvertently cut off the flow by placing your arm in the wrong position. I was supposed to see a dietician to discuss my weight loss, but that didn’t materialise. Hardly surprising considering how busy they are, and how many any other patients are in far greater need of dietary advice than me. I know what I need to be eating, I know what I should avoid eating. My problem has not been not knowing, it’s been not being able to. The pain of processing food through my digestive system has just made it impossible for me to even contemplate eating, whether it be the right or wrong foods. This was a point so caringly understood by my consultant, Mr S. We discussed the problem in some detail. He explained the balancing act of pain versus problems. His job is to try and keep my colon in the best order possible prior to surgery.  This will give him the greatest chance of achieving the best result possible from surgery. I know I should be thankful for the stent, the metallic cage that’s keeping my bowel open, but at the same time is causing me so much pain and discomfort. But without it, the chances are that a large section of my bowel would already have had to have been removed. Removed only because it was blocked, not because it was unhealthy or affected by the tumour. This would leave him less to work with come the time for surgery to remove the tumour. So although the stent has given me a greater chance of the best outcome, it has come at the price of some excruciating pain. To counteract this, I’ve now been prescribed Oramorph – liquid morphine. I can now categorically state that Oramorph is my new best friend. Nobody wants to be reliant on drugs of such strength to help them function, but it’s already made such a huge difference to me. Without pain I can sleep. I don’t have to concentrate on minimising pain in whatever I do. I’ve been doing ‘normal things’ today. I can move without having to think first. I’m feeling happier, more optimistic, and at last am not afraid of eating, although my diet is still extremely limited.

Aside from scans, x-rays, blood tests etc, the main purpose of my admission this week was to carry out a colonoscopy. Normally a day case procedure, the presence of the stent meant that the risk of bowel perforation, collapse, and pain were increased dramatically, hence the need for me being in hospital for the procedure. I met with Mr S before the procedure began, where he explained the risks and possible problems, as well as the reasons for doing the colonoscopy. Scans had already highlighted other areas of concern in different parts of my colon – areas where he had not previously been able to get to because of the restricting nature of the tumour. The procedure went ahead under heavy sedation, sadly not enough to counteract the pain. Mr S gave me a running commentary, and although I tried to keep my eyes open to watch progress on the monitor, most of the time my eye’s were screwed with the pain. The suspect areas were located, high up in the transverse colon. Biopsies taken and sent to the lab, but Mr S was confident that these were not a spread of the cancer. Advanced technology allowed perfect stills of the majority of the procedure to be reproduced, all of which I had the opportunity of viewing after the colonoscopy had finished. The first time I had actually seen the tumour embedded in my bowel. All it’s gory detail, 50mm does not seem much when told of the size, but seeing pictures brings home just how large an area it covers. It looks enormous, gruesome, vile, angry and every bit as cancerous as it really is. Even though large areas had been burned and attacked by radiotherapy, it was clearly still a formidable force, and although may have been weakened, it has in no way been beaten. It made me feel angry. I had seen it’s outline on x-rays, it’s formation on scans, but in clear visual form I could see just how it has taken over my colon and continues to attack anything that is in it’s way. I was left under no illusion that this thing needs to come out.

And so I will return to The Christie on 2nd April, for elective surgery the following day. I’ve now seen what the enemy looks like and I’m up and ready for the fight ahead. I’ve no doubt that I have the ace card in my hands, and that is Mr S. I am the only case listed for that day, so I’m not expecting a quick job. It might seem strange to be looking forward to major surgery, but I am. It will 8 months since diagnosis, and this seems like the first step in the fight back. Chemoradiation may have weakened the enemy, but now we’re going in for the kill, well at least on the front line. We’ll deal with the breakaways in the future, just glad to be getting this stage of the war started.


If you have any concerns about bowel cancer, or just want more information or check cancer rates in your area you can find all the information advice and help you need here.


This entry was posted in Be Clear On Cancer, Beating Bowel Cancer, Bowel Cancer, Bowel Cancer UK, Cancer, chemotherapy, colonic stent, colonoscopy, CT scan, Health, Liver, Manchester Blog Awards, Metastatic Bowel Cancer, MRI SCAN, Oldham, radiotherapy, Saddleworth, Springhead, The Christie, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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