Health – Turning the tables

I had a medical procedure the other day. I won’t go into details except to say it was undignified, but necessary. Fortunately it showed that I hadn’t contributed to my family history of bowel cancer.

I didn’t enjoy it. In fact, because I slept through the whole thing it wasn’t even interesting. Plus the preparation was unpleasant. I chugged down the vast amount of Glycoprep that I was given, except the last 200ml which I just couldn’t face and tipped down the sink. There must be a fortune to be made in making that stuff taste better.

Still, it’s good for me to be on the receiving end of the medical profession now and again. I have had both cataracts done which was absolutely fascinating. Under local anaesthetic I watched my natural lens being vaporised and replaced by a fold out replacement – all through a 4mm incision.  And the results were phenomenal; within a few days I could see the cat’s whiskers from the other side of the room.   

The only other operation I’ve had was an appendectomy. This was a spectacular example of self-misdiagnosis. I thought I had a tummy bug so lay on my bed all day, groaning and clutching my stomach, before a real doctor turned up and told me my appendix was about to burst. Mostly what I remember of that episode is drifting off into Nirvana when I was given morphine, and then postoperatively feeling like 10,000 volts had gone through my body. And no wimpy laparoscopic surgery in those days – I had an open operation and the scar to prove it.

I regard all these events as part of my ongoing medical education. We ask patients to go through some difficult things and it’s not a bad idea to actually know what they feel like. Even adjusting to being a patient can be a challenge for a doctor.

Fortunately I have an excellent GP but I did accompany my wife to a specialist recently whose bedside manner was atrocious. It was like a John Cleese skit on how not to conduct a consultation. I was really shocked and will never refer anybody to him again.
Anyway, I’ll make the point that I’ve done my bit to lower the bowel cancer rate in New Zealand. Can I recommend that when that little testing kit comes in the mail that you take up the offer?  It could be a lifesaver.