Yesterday was not a pleasant day, on several levels. I was booked in for a gastroscopy at my local hospital, to investigate the heartburn and swallowing problems I have been suffering for much longer than I care to admit. I've never had a gastroscopy before, but I know lots of people who have, and they all assured me that I wouldn't remember what happened after I got the pre-procedure sedation. So I wasn't particularly worried about the procedure. Everything was going well, until the nurse tried to insert a cannula to use for the sedation. Every time I have blood drawn (which is at least every 2 months), the technician always comments about how close to the surface my veins are, and how freely the blood comes out. I've had cannulas inserted in my hands before for procedures, with no problem. So I was totally unconcerned about having a cannula inserted in my hand. The nurse looked at my veins and commented that they looked like good veins. Then she inserted a cannula and some blood came out just as it should. But when she connected it up and tried to flush the cannula, it was blocked. She tried again with another vein - same story. As they're each only allowed two attempts at cannulation, she called in a more experienced blood-taker. Same story with different veins. In all I now have 11 sore spots on my hands and arms from attempted cannulation - and all unsuccessful. All cannulae entered veins, all were blocked when it came to the flushing stage. I have no idea why it would happen - it was certainly not something I would have predicted. So the outcome was that I had the gastroscopy with no sedation. It wasn't the worst thing that can happen, but it was certainly uncomfortable, particularly as I had uncontrollable gastric reflux (yes - TMI, I'll stop there!). The outcome was that the Doctor was unable to take the biopsies he intended to take, and couldn't get the camera down past the entrance to the stomach. But he found Grade 4 ulceration of the entire oesophagus (not a good thing to have, in case you're wondering) - which brings me to the lifestyle issue.
I know I often don't make the best decisions when it comes to lifestyle - I eat too much of the things I should eat sparingly (chocolate, for example), my appetite has no automatic 'off' switch, I don't exercise as much as I should, I sit most of the day, I avoid stepping on the scales if it's at all possible, I do have to shop at the Big Ladies store ... I could go on but I'm sure you get the picture. When I got home and googled 'oesophageal ulceration' and learned a bit about what it is and what can make it worse, I really had to take a second look at my lifestyle choices. It seems that I will now have to really do a turn around in my life. No more large meals - I need to eat small meals 5 times a day, not 3 large meals. I need to avoid alcohol (not a probelm for me) and fatty foods especially chocolate (a big problem for me!). And the list goes on. Just about everything I love (eg tomatos, citrus fruit) makes my problem worse, and those things I'm not fussed on (eg soft cooked vegetables, fibre-filled breads) help to reduce the problem.
So - I'm in for big changes - one step at a time. Chocolate is the first thing to go. Right now. Wish me luck!
And I will have to have another gastroscopy - hopefully with sedation this time!