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I’ve written this post in the hope that its content can help others. This piece and the next (part 2) refer to my personal experience of the title procedure. Anyone not interested in understanding the process should back off now. It is fairly graphic (in as polite a way as the subject allows)!

First of all, this was not an urgent or emergency procedure for me.

Background
Once you get past fifty, your body begins to play tricks on you. Bits you’ve always sworn by, relied upon and learned to trust, begin to let you down. It’s a very slow process, which even though expected (and remorseless) tends to creep up on you. It could start with your eyesight – just small changes reported at each visit to the optician or it could be your memory. You don’t worry too much about this because your friends and peers say that they are just the same: Things like ‘I’d forget my own head if it wasn’t screwed on’! But these things don’t come in series, the come in parallel (old school physics!).

I still consider myself to be reasonably fit, maybe not as fit as some contemporaries, but far fitter than many others. Nevertheless, one of the things to change over time has been the way in which my digestive system has worked. Whereas at one time I could and would eat anything, I now have to be quite careful about many foodstuffs. For example, raw onions at an Indian restaurant used to be a delight, as were the many curry flavours – but now raw onions are ‘out’ along with all take-aways and most Indian restaurants. Some restaurants seem to be ok and all home-cooked curries are ok but there has to be a little thought about what I eat these days.

The problem
It seems that I’ve suffered from acid reflux for a number of years. Initially, I’d thought it was a persistent sore throat and I have had all the tests (just the beginning of a long series of indignities that await folks who have gone fifty). But I’d resisted that label because my symptoms didn’t fit the norm. Basic Message here: beware of ‘the norm’. The doctor eventually put me on Lansoprazole http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lansoprazole and told me I’d have to take those for the rest of my life. I’ve therefore tried hard to find ways NOT to take those for the rest of my life! As time went by I began to develop what I thought was IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irritable_bowel_syndrome) – this remains unconfirmed, currently. I eventually visited a (second) consultant who suggested that I was both blessed and beggared. Blessed, because I understood the workings of my body (I’d enjoyed all of my school biology lessons and taught Digestion for many years) and beggared because I was more aware of my body than most. He also said that the Lansoprazole could be partly responsible for the discomfort and therefore prescribed Nexium http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Esomeprazole.

After a long consultation he suggested that there was noting seriously wrong with me but if he were to offer more in-depth investigation of either the top half of my digestive system or the bottom (pun not intended) – which would I have. I elected to have further investigation of my bowel for two reasons: 1) it was a relatively new complaint for me and 2) everyone over fifty should have their colon inspected as a preventative measure. I’d previously avoided it and decided now to take up the offer.

The next post will look at the procedure itself.

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