a snowflake decorated plate with mashed potatoes and turkey on it

This Year I Finally Got a White Christmas

It wasn’t just Bing Crosby who dreamt of a White Christmas. To this day my daughter bemoans the fact that as we live in the city center, we almost never get snow and have only ever seen two White Christmases.

I thought my prostate cancer recovery was going well

Even those of you who are entirely ‘Bah! Humbug’ about Christmas must admit that for about 30 minutes when the snowflakes fall a kind of magic happens and even the ugliest places are beautified. Admittedly after that half hour is up, the snow turns to a grimy slush, but I’ll settle for a few minutes of crystal white wonder, particularly on Christmas Day.

Well, this year I got a White Christmas, but as the eagle-eyed among you will have spotted this sentence starts in the first person singular and not the third person plural -- all will be explained.

Then I found blood in my stool

As I’ve written in a previous article, the last time I had my PSA level tested, it stood at 0.03 meaning my cancer is virtually undetectable. Unfortunately, the shine was knocked off this good news as I’d recently detected blood in my feces.

My oncologist said there was almost certainly nothing to worry about, so obviously I started worrying at top speed. To confirm her non-worry diagnosis, she prescribed a colonoscopy early in the new year. Soon afterward and entirely unexpectedly, I was offered an almost immediate appointment on 27th December. There was a family discussion as to whether I wanted to do this but on balance I decided I did.

Putting together a plan of attack

The hospital phoned up to give me details about the procedure and during the conversation, I took down the following note which seems to set out quite well what I had in store.

  • Colonoscopy: Friday 27th 11am. St. Thomas’ Hospital, Endoscopy Unit.
  • Mild sedation. The procedure lasts between 30 and 45 Minutes. Go home by 2pm. Need someone to help get me home.
  • Change diet on Christmas day. All white food. No vegetables, no nuts.
  • 26th December: One egg and toast, no other food until after procedure the following day. Take 4 laxative tablets at 4pm and drink sodium picosulphate sachet mixed with water.
  • 27th December: At 5am take second sodium picosulphate sachet with water. No further drinking three hours prior to test. 11am have camera rammed up b*tt. Apparently doesn’t hurt too much.

My white Christmas was an all-white diet

Well, there’s quite a lot to unpack there, but now you’ll understand why I had my own personal White Christmas which had nothing to do with snow but had a lot to do with an all-white diet. Not exactly the White Christmas I was dreaming of, but if you think about it quite practical. Turkey was on the menu and combine that with some mashed potato and you have a good idea as to what my White Christmas looked like.

I don’t know whether any of you have tried sodium picosulphate but I can’t recommend it as a Yuletide tipple. After drinking the vile tasting fluid, nothing much happened for a couple of hours until suddenly a depth charge seemed to go off in my stomach and I was reduced to writhing around on the bathroom floor, in between clambering back on to the toilet. It’s the uncrowned king of laxatives, the presidential purgative and is what other lesser emetics aspire to be. Avoid at all costs.

What was my colonoscopy like?

As to the procedure itself, I opted for no sedation, though with a cannula in my arm this was available at any time. I think the doc thought I was nuts not to be ‘put under’, but I feel I have enough chemicals swilling round my system right now and while it was a little painful at times, it was bearable.

I’ve never seen a high definition video of my bowel before and while it’s unlikely to rival a Netflix boxset it was interesting viewing just the same -- pink and twisty.

And...I have haemorrhoids

So, what did the doc and his anal-cam find? Well, the simple answer is not much. Yes, I hear you ask, but what about the blood, where did that come from?

To which there is only one answer: Dear reader I have haemorrhoids, that joke condition beloved of comedians world-wide. I’m not complaining it could have been a great deal worse, but really after all that, haemorrhoids? Whatever next?

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