Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Crohn's Disease - DIARY - Ultrasound

For those IBD sufferers reading this post I have a question - what's the first thing you do when waking up in the morning? Within the first few seconds is how well behaved does my digestive system feels today? From that I can work out how long I have for breakfast, how long in the bathroom and whether I'm OK to venture out onto public transport for the commute to work.

Tuesday 4th November 2014 - Ultrasound Day

In a previous post I mentioned that, a few weeks ago, I had suddenly experienced a very severe pain in my lower back. Only on the left side and bad enough to concern me. I mentioned it to my consultant when I saw him recently and he booked me in for an ultrasound scan. Today was the day.

Knowing I would be leaving work at lunchtime it only seemed fair to make the effort to get in early and make up some of the time. My waking assessment was - digestive system OK but probably wouldn't want to get delayed en route. With a little bit of effort I managed to catch the 5:40 train to London.

We made it to just outside the little, urban hamlet of Norbury and by then the train was traveling very slowly. As we pulled into the station we came to a halt. The guard announced that there was a track problem ahead and he didn't know how long we would be waiting there. I immediately felt something stir in my guts. This was crazy as I was OK until the announcement but there seems little I can do to break this reaction. I tried analysing my reaction, looking at the situation rationally but that "what if I need to get to the bathroom quickly" thought overrode everything. Whilst I was still contemplating this question and formulating a plan, the guard announced that the train would be going no further and that we should all disembark, making our way to another platform.

That was enough to distract me and we slowly made our way to the new platform. Amazingly another London bound train arrived, with empty seats and the journey continued uneventfully, I've read a number of accounts recently of Crohn's sufferers having "accidents" whilst out in public and this non-incident with the train brought home just how easy it would have been for a normal day to transform into a very confidence destroying experience. The Joy of Crohn's.......
One of my regular views on the way to work Waterloo Bridge looking NE
The instructions that came with the Ultrasound letter said drink 1 to 2 pints of water at least one hour before your appointment (2:00 pm) and arrive at the Hospital with a full bladder. Have you tried this? For the last scan, back in 2008 at East Surrey Hospital, I had been asked to arrive 1 hour early and drink 2 jugs of water there. Probably a better idea really.

Anyway, I kept drinking water from mid-morning onwards and tried to retain as much as I could. I set of on the 45 minute walk to Guy's Hospital on the basis that it would keep my mind off of my bladder. The gloomy morning had turned into a beautiful day and I made sure my route took me past St.Paul's Cathedral. So far so good. Plenty of distractions.
St.Paul's Cathedral facade
By the time I had crossed London Bridge and was approaching Guy's I was getting desperate. Full bladder + 45 minute walk may not have been such a good idea.
Guy's Hospital nestling behind The Shard
I found my way up to the 2nd Floor Ultrasound Dept. and told to take a seat in the waiting area. I felt I was going to burst so asked one of the nurses if a full bladder was really necessary for a kidney scan. She replied that it was and the doctor had just arrived so would see me shortly. If I went off to the bathroom I would then need to drink more water and wait another 30 minutes. She said that walking up and down the corridor might help. Shortly afterwards I heard her explain to the doctor that I was desperate.

He called me in and said "I'll scan your bladder first - should take 30 seconds - and then you can go to the bathroom". He did scan my bladder and complimented me on how much I had managed to hold in. Time to let it out. A huge relief.

The scan continued around my abdomen. My consultant had told me to ask about ascites (accumulation of fluid in the peritoneal cavity) so the search went a little further up. A couple of minutes later the procedure was over and the doctor revealed what he had found......"Nothing, apart from one gallstone". Half of me was relieved; the other half was disappointed that no kidney stones had shown up. It left the question of what had caused the original pain unanswered together with the bloating issue. More questions for my next GI appointment.
Ultrasound machine
As I was about to leave the scanner room I asked if I could take a picture of the machine to illustrate this blog. He very kindly called up the screen showing multiple scans and commented that he liked patients that took an active interest in their treatment.

Next stop - St.Thomas', 10th November, Endoscopy.......