Thursday 11 February 2021

A Pain in the Arse

(TRIGGER WARNING: Mention of Cancer, Laxatives, Appetite Changes, and TMI symptoms)

 I've mentioned a bit about my stomach and bowel problems in recent posts, where it has affected my mental health. Up until now, I haven't told you the whole story though. 

I've had Irritable Bowel Syndrome for over 10 years; it being suggested by a GP well before my Fibromyalgia diagnosis, and then finally finding its way on to my ever-growing list of medical conditions. I've found it affecting me in a pretty mild way, with constipation being the main problem, and diarrhea only occurring when very stressed out.

The past 5 or 6 months have been very different though. Tell a lie, I notice a lump in my backside just over a year ago, but it didn't really give me any problems until about 5 or 6 months ago, when it grew quite big. I assumed it might be an internal hemorrhoid, or a small prolapse that would need sorting at some point. Over the past few months, I have been experiencing severe constipation, only relieved with 3 kinds of laxatives (Senokot/Dulcolax, Lactulose, and Dulcoease), as well as appetite changes, fluctuating abdominal pain, a lot of noise coming from my stomach, bleeding when wiping with toilet paper, nausea, bloating, mucus with streaks of fresh blood when trying to poo, constant pressure, anal spasms that make me feel the need to poo constantly, and shooting pains up my backside. All in all, not very nice and quite embarrassing to have to talk about. 

After about a month, I decided I needed to talk to the GP about it. It was them who got me on the 3 kinds of laxatives and eventually I was prescribed Laxido to replace Dulcoease (Dulcoease is tolerated very easily so the effects can wear off quickly). I had some initial blood tests to check my thyroid, which all came back negative/normal. I still had problems a couple of months later, however, so I was referred to a Gastroenterologist who sent me for more blood tests and an Ultrasound of my stomach (which I will have at the start of March). These blood tests showed low iron levels (almost to the point of full blown Anaemia) as well as raised CRP and ESR levels (inflammation markers). I was only told about the iron levels at first; being advised to take iron tablets and wait for my ultrasound, and the Gastroenterologist will be in touch in the near future. 

I thought "near future" would mean months away, so I took my laxatives, ordered my iron tablets, upped my fluid and fibre, and accepted I would have to wait. 

Some of the symptoms worsened, however, and the pressure, pain, and constant urges to poo were getting increasingly hard to deal with. After some unsuccessful 111 calls, with uninterested out of hours GPs, I decided an urgent GP appointment was needed. 

I explained all my symptoms, including the fact I thought I had a prolapse that maybe was exacerbating my stomach and bowel problems. I thought I'd need surgery to sort it out. The GP on the phone got me to see a female GP in person later that day. I was hoping I would get something to calm the urges, rather than simply more laxatives. It was a more interesting (and nerve wracking!) appointment than I expected, however.

The GP was a lovely one, I had seen before for other issues (including my now sort-of-diagnosed Raynauds). I told her everything, and really pressed the fact that the pressure, urges, and pain were horrendous, and the "prolapse" needed sorting. She wrote down a lot of what I said, and decided a rectal exam was needed. I had one with another GP initially but nothing "worrying" was found. This time, I was asked to relax, and then push though. Although no bleeding was present at the time of the examination, a very large lump was found inside me. What I thought was a prolapse could be something very different. At best, a hemorrhoid, but it could be more serious. 

Because of this, and my worsening symptoms, the GP decided to refer me to the "2 week wait" Lower GI Clinic for an urgent Colonoscopy. I remember making a face and saying "urgent?!". My GP reassured me it probably wasn't Cancer, but because of my symptoms and presence of a very large lump, it was necessary to get me seen ASAP. If it was a Hemorrhoid, I would need a small procedure called Rubber Banding, to cut off the circulation to it and it would eventually fall off. Until then, I was to take my laxatives (including Laxido this time), take my iron tablets, wait for my referral, and try not to worry too much. 

I had my referral review letter come through yesterday, and made the mistake of Googling what it said. Good ole' Google managed to convince me that it was most probably Colorectal Cancer, as I strongly fit the criteria. Good friends managed to bring me back to Earth however (as my Anxiety had hit the roof at this point!) and I am less distressed today, although still worried that the Big C is a possibility at all. I should get my appointment letter through very soon as they are Triaging my case. (The letter was dated the 8th, and said to call on the 10th if nothing else had come through). 

I also had a letter come from my Gastroenterologist, with a surprisingly quick approaching telephone appointment on 25th February. 

I can only imagine it is very soon because of my GP finding the lump and doing the urgent referral. Again, it made me worry that it was so quick. I usually wait ages for appointments, and initially the Gastroenterologist didn't even think I needed to speak to him. 

So this is where I am, at the moment. I am in a lot of pain, I feel constantly drained and bloated. The laxatives are helping to ease some of the pressure, my appetite is better, and at least I am able to go however. I guess all I can do is what the GP advised and try not to worry (and stay well away from Googling anything to do with my symptoms, test results, or referrals!).

I feel extremely grateful for the support my friends have shown me so far. They have kept me grounded, been realistic with me, but also have been sympathetic, caring, and loving. Whatever the results are, bad news or good, I know they are there when I need them. 

1 comment:

  1. Hm. Living up to the blog title.
    Thank you for sharing your medical adventures.