I can’t guarantee that this post is going to be overly interesting, or that it’ll even make a lot of sense as I’m currently very hungry and a bit uncomfortable. As I type, I haven’t consumed anything other than clear liquids for over 24 hours and I’m sitting rigged-up with wires and transmitters like a suicide bomber crossed with Martin Short from Innerspace.
See, I’ve just swallowed a PillCam which is a small(ish) camera that’s currently going on a vacation through my insides and taking happy snaps all the way. I say smallish because size is a relative thing. Compared to a bus, the camera is tiny. But the major difference here is that no one is going to make you eat a bus then poop it back out again. Or at least I hope they aren’t. If they are, you need to reassess your social circles. But I digress. Why am I chowing down on a photographic device? Well that’s a long story.
It all started back to December 2010 (which I previously blogged about here) Â where I discovered I was anaemic. At the time, they didn’t figure-out why, Â so after a bunch of tests, an awkward amount of poking and prodding and a blood transfusion they sent me on my way. The only thing they found through their investigations (other than the lack of blood) was that I had a hiatus hernia which basically means half my stomach decided it was too cool to hang around with the rest of my guts and climbed into my chest cavity instead. The hernia technically shouldn’t have caused my anemia, but as they hadn’t really found much else, their best guess was that I had some ulcers orÂ lesions caused when my stomach made its way into my chest, and these may have bled slowly into my stomach over the course of a few years – and that’s how I ended-up in the state I was.
So I was put on a waiting list to get my stomach shuffled back down to where it is supposed to be and hopefully all would be good. But, due to the state of the Queensland public health system, and the fact that my operation was certainly not a high priority one, my name never made it to the top of the list.
Then, about six months ago, I started feeling a bit lethargic again. Now, it should be noted that being an unhealthy computer geek, lethargic is usually how I roll, but given the fact that I was hospitalised for anaemia a couple of years earlier – I thought I should probably get this checked out. So I went to the doctors, got a blood test and as I suspected, I was low in iron again. So, my GP referred me onto a specialist that organised a few more tests and since then I’ve been back-and-forth from the hospital every few weeks since.
They started with a colonoscopy and and endoscopy (basically sticking camera’s up my bum and down my throat) which revealed that I had a nasty third-world stomach infection known asÂ Helicobacter pylori. Just like P.Diddy is bad-ass and get’s to have his name abbreviated, so does this bacteria – so the peeps in the medical hood just call it H.pylori.
This bad boy introduced me to a fascinating doctor that educated me on Barry Marshall. Bazza is a Western Australian doctor that won a Nobel Prize for his research and discovery of the aforementioned bacteria and how it causes stomach ulcers. Prior to his research everyone thought ulcers were simply a result of too much bad food, alcohol and stress. So Barry started compiling specimens from ulcers and grew these into a ulcer causing super bacterial sludge (and yes, I’m pretty certain that’s the lingo those medical types use). When Bazza shared his hypothesis with his peers, they didn’t believe him. So he drank it. And as you would expect (no, he didn’t turn into Ulcer Man) he contracted some pretty nasty ulcers. He then had to develop antibiotics to cure himself and all this helped him prove his point, create some awesome ulcer killing drugs, save a bunch of lives and win a Nobel Prize. So, yeah, perhaps you could call him Ulcer Man.
So anyways, I had that and needed to take Ulcer Man’s magical course of pills to clear that up. Followed by a breath test (also one of Bazza’s inventions) to make sure the evil bacteria was dead. See, the bacteria tweaks the carbon dioxide we exhale creating a skanky smelling variant. No bad breath. No bacteria. Ulcer Man saved the day.
Once all that was sorted, it was back to figuring out exactly where my stomach was and how tricky it would be to convince it to come back down with the rest of my guts. To do that, I needed to swallow barium (which is a very heavy, chalky liquid metal that the body can’t absorb). It also shows-up great on X-rays. But to get it to coat the whole of my stomach, I needed to also swallow bicarbonate soda to make my stomach bubble and have little internal explosions. Basically like dropping a Mentos into Coke. Oh, and then they strapped me to a rotating X-Ray bed and flipped me around a bit as if my stomach was a cocktail maker and James Bond just ordered a barium bicarb soda martini – shaken, not stirred.
So after all this excitement, the stomach paparazzi got the shots they needed and now knew where my stomach was. They also knew I no longer had third-world ulcer causing bugs in there and they knew my blood levels were starting to improve. But they still didn’t know for sure what caused the initial blood loss. They have their assumptions, like they did a few years ago, that the stomach bug caused ulcers and the hernia caused lesions as my gut slide up and down my chest. Both of which would have caused slow internal bleeding, but just to make sure, they wanted to dig a bit deeper.
Which brings you up to speed on why I swallowed a camera and had electro sensors stuck all over my chest to monitor the cameras movements.
Since writing the above, the camera has now done its job and the electro sensors have been removed. It was kind-of like the scene from The 40 Year Old Virgin where Steve Carell gets his chest waxed. The camera has also exited the building and some poor medical intern will have the fun job of going through 30,000 pics of my insides hoping to find the money shot. If they don’t find anything, I’ve basically just taken the term ‘selfie’ to a whole new level.
So, depending on what they find will determine the next a round of tests, and if they don’t find anything, they’ll proceed to yank my stomach back into place. Apparently, the operation itself isn’t too difficult and can be done via a few little holes in my tummy, but afterwards I’ll need to go onto a mushy liquid diet for up to six week. Now that’s something I’m not particularly looking forward to.
Otherwise, all this really isn’t anywhere near as bad as it sounds. It’s really just more of a medical educational inconvenience. I’ll be sure to keep you posted on the progress.