Tonight’s update is brought to you with a serious tone and a strong message. Well I never promised this would all be a bundle of laughs, did I?
We’re here to help each other, right?
Good – glad you agree. So make me a promise. Please PLEASE get unusual lumps checked out by your GP.
And men (I’m going all non-PC here), putting off visiting the doctor for another day in the vain hope that “it’ll all go away” must not, never be an option.
[WARNING – those of a sensitive disposition should stop reading now as the following contains references to poo, blood, and tubes going where the sun don’t shine. Oh, and needles – I really don’t like needles…].
My story started with a lump. A teeny, non-painful lump about the size of an M&M (the peanut ones) low down my right groin.
I’d been cycling a lot, and had been pushing the hills quite hard. My initial thought was a hernia. I’d no idea what a hernia was, but it sounded ‘sporty’.
Then in early summer, out-of-the-blue, I became quite ill . It was like flu, vomiting and diarrhoea all rolled into one. I was floored for two weeks and lost a pile of weight. The GP did blood and stool samples and the likely prognosis was gastro enteritis.
Our Spanish summer holiday came and went without incident, but that wee groin lump would not go away.
Later in the summer, the diarrhoea returned, and I was convinced there was blood in it. Not convinced enough to tell my wife straight away, or to get it checked out. Just convinced it would clear up given time.
But it stayed, and I worried. I was also starting to feel a bit ‘glandular’ around the neck – no pain, just a bit tight and swollen, like I was fighting an infection.
I eventually told Louise and agreed to take my symptoms back to the GP. My first ever ‘rubber glove’ examination didn’t bring any bad news – probably just an ongoing viral infection that was affecting my gut and causing my lymph glands to work overtime.
But it didn’t get better, and after a second visit (where the groin lump was thought to be getting smaller), a third visit soon after had the GP admitting that “something wasn’t right” and that it was time for a bit of a camera examination.
I had a colonoscopy on October 30 at the ERI. They got right round my large intestine as I watched it all, fascinated, on a big TV screen. A dozen tiny biopsies were taken – painless, but I could feel a gentle ‘tug’ sensation each time.
The GI consultant could see nothing obvious. At a push, he’d guess at ulcerative colitis – but it would have been a guess.
Two weeks later, a phone call. Could the consultant see me in two days. At the same time, an appointment letter arrives to see a Haematology Specialist at the Western in Edinburgh the following week. Very mysterious.
Louise came with me to see the GI consultant, who was absolutely brilliant. I don’t imagine that in his line of work he has to break news to his patients that they have Lymphoma – cancer – every day.
I’ll talk about my feelings on hearing that news, and the more detailed diagnosis I got from the Haematologist, in a later post.
In the meantime, I don’t, I really really don’t want this to scare people. Quite the opposite.
Yes, there I times – many of them – where I think that if I just hadn’t gone to the GP time and again none of this would be happening. That somehow life would go on as normal and nothing bad would happen. Mental, I know, but you can’t always control your thoughts.
So I might not be over the world with what the examinations found, but at least I did it and I can get started on treatment pronto.
The vast majority of lumps (and bloody poos!) that get checked out prove to be either nothing serious or relatively minor.
So if in doubt, don’t do what I very nearly did.
Promise me you’ll #GetChecked