About eight months ago I started to have slight indigestion. Nothing that I couldn't cope with, but I noticed I'd get the occasional excruciating pain in my lower abdomen. I didn't go to the doctor it hardly seemed worth the bother and in any case they'd probably prescribe indigestion tablets which I could get myself. A few months on, I noticed it was getting more frequent, so I decided to keep a food diary to see what exacerbated it. Things like beans and peas seemed the main culprits, but also onions, cheese and fizzy drinks (not that I drink these hardly at all, I swear, but I had had a few on ice while we were in baking-hot Rome). The list started to get longer. I started to think maybe I should go to the doctor, but always made excuses not to go - too much to do and it wasn't after all that serious. However, in late October I managed to pass some black blood over the space of three days and that made me sit up and take notice. So I finally went off to the doctor imagining they'd say it was something simple like an irritated bowel or something minor.
Instead, the doctor said black blood indicated I had been bleeding from my stomach (only red blood comes from the bowels, apparently) and instantly referred me to a private hospital to see a consultant gastro-enterologist. Now, I do not have private insurance, but I am told that these days in order to help the National Health Service get their waiting lists down, private hospitals have been helping the NHS by taking on NHS patients. Along I trotted in mid November and got seen in luxurious 5-star circumstances by the private consultant. His view was that, as I had obviously had a gastric bleed, he needed to send a camera down into my stomach (gastroscopy) to see what was going on in there.
The gastroscopy was on 16 December and revealed I had a tumour, a grand-sounding Gastro-Intestinal Stromal Tumour or GIST, in my stomach. Biopsies revealed it was benign but it would still need to be removed as they can turn malignant and it had already obviously bled. However, the case was becoming more complicated than the private hospital could deal with, so I was referred back to the NHS for further treatment. Because of the nature of the beast, I was to be fast-tracked, so I saw an NHS gastro-enterologist a few days later on Christmas Eve. He decided I needed to have a full-body CT scan and a colonoscopy to make sure there was nothing else lurking within. Those tests were done in early January.
The colonoscopy revealed nothing at all, despite that being the area where the original pain was, but the CT scan revealed some questionable deposits in my lung, so now I have to see a respiratory consultant next week. Meanwhile, because the stomach tumour is rare and not all hospitals can deal with it, the operation has to be done at a Central London teaching hospital and they have first asked for another gastroscopy with ultrasound, in which an ultrasound probe is put down into the stomach together with a camera, so that the ultrasound can be done from within and get a clearer picture than it would on the skin surface. That will happen this week. I am so not looking forward to that.
See what I mean....... what turned out to be something simple is now becoming a hospital fest. My 2016 diary is full of hospital appointments and we're only in January. Add into the mix the fact that my 92-year-old mum, for whom I am sole carer, is having a knee replacement operation in 5 weeks' time and you can see life is getting a tad complicated.