Today was the day to test if the rejoin in my colon has healed properly, or if it has the potential to leak, which could cause potentially significant complications.
My appointment was at the Spire hospital in Havant at 9:20am, which was close enough to the rush hour that I decided I’d better get an early start. It was as well that I did, as the traffic was very heavy, and actually at a stand-still on the four-lane section leading up Portsdown Hill towards Portsmouth. I set off at 8:15 and arrived at 9:00am, which is fairly crazy for only an 18mile drive mostly along a motorway.
The advantage of doing the treatment privately cut in as soon as I arrived, with me being ushered straight through to the waiting room, where I was then immediately taken to the changing rooms, and given a surgical gown and dressing gown to change into. It’s funny, but having practically lived in a surgical gown for 3 weeks back in March, getting back into one again felt completely natural; I even managed to get all the tapes tied up behind me.
And then it was straight into the x-ray room, where my radiologist took me through the whole procedure, just so I knew what was going to happen. Which turns out to be exactly as described in the leaflet that I linked to back in this post.
The whole procedure took about 15 minutes; my initial vision of a cork, a bucket and a stirrup pump was disproved almost immediately, though the process did involve a rather large syringe and a flexible rubber tube to introduce the gastrografin. The radiographer remained in the room with me throughout, though he was dressed in a lead apron, with various additional lead-lined shields to protect critical parts of his anatomy. He helped get me into the right positions under the x-ray machine to get the images that he needed, adjusted the amount & location of the gastrografin contrast agent, and then captured the needed images.
The whole process was completely painless, and much to my amusement, the staff seemed determined to spent a lot of time doing everything they could to try to maintain as much dignity for me as possible. I’ve long since passed the point where I’m worried about false notions of privacy or dignity; I’m there to be treated, not pandered to. But I can imagine that there are some patients who would find the process embarrassing, especially given the mixed team of radiographers (wo)manning the equipment, so it was good to see them doing what they could.
The end results are however, rather inconclusive. It turns out that there are two common ways to rejoin the colon. One is the end-to-end anastomosis, and the other is the end-to-side anastomosis. The former is where the two cut ends are joined together. The latter seems to be where one cut end is formed into a pouch, and then the other cut end is then attached through the side of that pouch. According to the request sent to the radiographer I was supposed to have an end-to-end anastomosis, but the x-rays he took today seem to indicate that I have an end-to-side anastomosis.
So, if the radiographers request is wrong and I do have an end-to-side, then everything looks very good indeed. If however, the radiographers request is correct and I have an end-to-end, then the join doesn’t appear to have healed as expected. So the next task is for the radiographer to go back to my surgeon (who wrote the request) and check the details, and then for them to get together with the x-rays to interpret them, and then to decide what action to take next. They normally meet on Tuesday mornings, so depending on whether or not they can get the x-rays processed by tomorrow morning, I’ll either hear more later this week, or later next week.
I feel like I ought to be worried, but actually there’s nothing I can do, so really it’s just a matter of waiting to hear what happens next. Got to love the suspense!