Monday 19 May 2014


My other blogs have said a bit about my previous seminoma and here I've mentioned my poorly diagnosed stomach pains. Eventually I was referred for gastroscopy (a good overview here) to check for ulcers or premalignant areas. I had the choice of with or without sedation and decided to try without so that I didn't need to be supervised for 24 hours - after all I wanted to go swimming! I'm glad I didn't read all this beforehand.

After a brief assessment and consent I was in the unit. After a spray of topical anaesthetic across my tongue, soft palate and down my throat I had to lie on the couch with legs in a recovery position layout. With a plastic bobbin between my teeth the nurse held my head in position while the endoscope was steered down my throat. I was aware of the device a the back of my throat and was told to 'gulp' to allow the scope to be swallowed into my oesophagus. As the tube went into my stomach they passed air into my stomach to make space and allow a good look round. This made me belch repeatedly and gradually the whole procedure became eye-wateringly uncomfortable. Somewhere in amongst this I grabbed the nursess wrist as she steadied the bobbin and my chin. Really I was clamped to the couch trying to cough, breath slowly, dribbling from my mouth and wishing it would all end. They took a few biopsies which I was surprised not to feel at all (the stomach lining is clearly sensitive as acid can hurt). These made me belch and feel like coughing even more as water was passed down the scope to clean it between samples.

They kept me informed of progress throughout and as the end was approaching the anaesthetic was wearing off. This wasn't painful but I could feel the scope in my throat and was concerned that if they were much longer I'd start reflex retching. Anyway that problem didn't arise as it was over soon. Once sat up and recovering i apologised to the nurse and was told that 'everyone does that'. I was shown the photos (selfies?) and everything looked good - no areas of irritation, bleeding or ulcers. I'll get the biopsy results later. I left very pleased and I'm told I had a wide smile on reaching the waiting room. Glad it was over, a pretty unpleasant 10 minutes!

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