My Camera. . .
So if you listened to or read last week’s installment, you may recall that my surgeon, Dr. Vrees, wanted me to swallow an endoscopy camera before we did the permanent colostomy, just to see what was going on inside my pipes between where a colonoscopy and endoscopy both end. Because in-between those two places is a LOT of GI tract and since I was having so, so many issues of all sorts, he wanted as much information as possible before going in.
So, I got hooked up with a GI practice and was scheduled for what’s called a patency test. Now, the patency test is when the patient swallows a fake camera that will dissolve if it gets stuck. And these cameras, while small for an electronic, are HUGE for swallowing. And when there are unknown issues, the idea of having a camera stuck in the pipes is not a good idea.
After the patient swallows the pretend camera, x-rays are taken to make sure that it has passed all the way through the pipes. And, like a good patient, my patency camera did. No issues. NONE. Whatsoever. So, everyone thought that this test would be fine, just fine.
So, a few weeks later on February 9, 2021, I went back to the hospital to swallow the REAL camera. Now, the nurse that was setting me up for this test heard about my current symptoms and my history with SBO’s, and said, “Uh….are you SURE this is a good idea?” And while this made me a bit nervous, I promised that both the GI doc and the surgeon said that it would be fine, just fine. And so she reluctantly had me swallow the camera and then sent me on my way.
I was supposed to return the monitor, which I had to wear like a satchel, by the end of the day. But about an hour before it was due back, I accidentally unhooked it. I tried and tried to put it back together and when I finally got it reconnected, it wouldn’t turn on. So, I called my nurse immediately and told her what happened. She said that I had had it on for nearly the whole time so that it would be fine, just fine. So, I dropped off the monitor and thought that was that.
The next morning, I got a call from my nurse telling me that something had happened and they were only able to get 20-minutes of film. 20-minutes out of seven hours. The test was a total waste. They literally got no information. But she said that they wanted to make sure I passed the camera, so to go get an x-ray.
Coincidentally, I had a consult with Dr. Vrees on February 10, 2021, the day after I swallowed the camera. This was when we officially signed off that we were going to do the permanent colostomy. He had originally wanted to wait to get the results of the camera and was very disappointed to learn that we only got 20 minutes of footage. I remember him then asking me if I thought I had passed it, and I said I felt fine, so I was pretty sure it was out.
Now, by the time I went to get the x-ray, I knew I hadn’t passed the camera because, well, to be perfectly honest, after every single bowel movement, I would put on rubber gloves and squish my poop. The last thing I wanted was a camera stuck in there and wanted to know when it came out. And while this sounds totally disgusting, I just could not NOT do it. I was so petrified of another obstruction and this made me feel like I had some information about what was going on in there, even if the information was that the camera was still inside of me.
But like a good patient, I went to the hospital and while I was on the x-ray table, I could see the image of my insides on the screen and could literally SEE the camera…which was just sort of sitting there, on my insides. They then sent me over to the ED to get a CT of the area to see just how stuck it was. It was determined that it actually wasn’t truly stuck and was just not moving. So they sent me home and told me to go back in a day to get another x-ray.
Now, on the day I was supposed to get the next image, I knew I hadn’t passed the camera, because, well, to be perfectly honest, after every single bowel movement, I would put on rubber gloves and squish my poop. Because now I was even more afraid of an obstruction and I’d be damned if it was going to happen without me knowing.
And just like last time, as I was laying on the x-ray table, I could see the image of my insides on the screen and could literally SEE the camera…literally in the exact same spot. It had not moved AT ALL. So, they sent me over to the ED to get a CT of the area to see just how stuck it was. It was determined, again, that it wasn’t truly stuck and was just not moving. So, they sent me home, again, and told me to go back in a day to get another x-ray.
At this time, we were all preparing for me to get the permanent colostomy and the GI surgery team did NOT want the GI doctor team in charge of things. They believed that they would want to operate to get the camera out and Dr. Vrees didn’t want to go in more than once. So, I was told to remain on liquids and just wait until surgery, who’s date was yet to be determined. And that’s where we’ll end for this week. Check in next week to see how this whole camera/surgery thing turns out.
Thank you so much for listening to my story. I hope that it encourages some, if not all of you to get your colonoscopies as soon as you possibly can. And trust me, if I get my way, the approved age will be reduced even lower than 45, where it currently is. Dr. Vrees and I talked about it and agreed that if there is any know family history, a patient should be able to get a colonoscopy as early as they’d like. And if there is no know history, 35 seems like a good target age. I’ve just met way too many young survivors. And that’s just silly. This is a very findable cancer.
So, thanks again and please remember that you, yes YOU deserve to care for your body. It is your vessel, it is the vehicle for your soul. And we only get one.