18 July 2019

Recent Gastro Tests

I have been experiencing gastro issues for over 2 years now and as of writing this I still don't have an explanation for why I'm experiencing these symptoms. I have had several tests done and all have come back clear apart from showing that I have acid reflux (which we already knew) and that certain foods get stuck in my throat (again which we already knew). In late June/early July I had 3 more tests done (2 that I'd had done before and 1 which I hadn't). 

On the 20th of June I went for a gastric emptying study and a stomach and bowel scan. We arrived just in time for my 9:30am appointment. The same two guys who did the tests last time did them this time as well (they couldn't believe it had been so long since they'd done the tests back in August 2017). The process was very similar to how it was back then only this time we skipped the oesophageal part of the test (as it wasn't requested) and the time in between scans for the GES was longer (it used to be 5 minutes, it's now 10 minutes).

We went through some security questions (name, date of birth, address etc.) then they went to prepare the radioactive food (in my case an egg sandwich). After about 10 minutes or so they came back with the egg sandwich on a plate, which was wheeled in on a trolley. We went through the security questions again (just to double check that they had the right person) then I was given a pair of rubber gloves to put on.

After requesting a glass of water (I wasn't allowed anything to eat or drink from midnight the night before) I started the sandwich. In the end I managed to eat about 3/4 of it, having a couple of sips of water whilst eating it (I still wasn't allowed a proper drink as it would dilute the solution in the food). As soon as my mom informed them that I'd finished, it was straight onto the scanner.

I spent the next 2 hours lying down on the scanner having a 2 minute scan done every 10 minutes (this was the gastric emptying study which measures how long it takes for your stomach contents to empty). The next test (stomach and bowel scan) was done over 4 hours. It was a 10 minute scan done every hour (thankfully I could leave the scanner room in-between scans during this test as the duration between scans was longer). On the 4th and final scan I had two 10 minute scans done; one 'normal' top down one (the scanner in the same position as it had been all day) and one side on one to view my bowel from the side (I had to put my arms above my head for this one which my shoulders didn't like!).

By the time all the scans had been done and checked to make sure that they were clear enough it was 4:30pm (we were there for a total of 7 hours). The consultant was due to look at my images and compare them with my previous ones on the 24th of June. Once he's finished the results will be sent to the Gastro who referred me.

Me lying down on the scanner.

On the 2nd of July I started my colon transit study. We arrived 10 minutes early to my 2pm appointment but weren't seen until 2:20pm. This was the first part of the study so all I had to do was consume a radioactive drink. I was taken into a small room where we went through the usual security questions before a plastic apron was put around my neck and across my lap (incase any of the liquid spilt). I was then handed a small opaque bottle containing a clear liquid. I was asked to drink it as quickly as I could as it would be more effective. The same bottle was then filled with orange squash two times to 'rinse' it out and make sure I got all of the solution. I was then free to go home until my first scan the next day.

On the 3rd, 4th and 5th I had to be there by 9am (we made sure to arrive early). I was the first to seen as they had to fit a special lens onto the machine to take the scans required for my test (they used the same machine as the one on the 20th but it was operated by different members of the nuclear medicine team). I was seen early every day and the scan only took 5 minutes (obviously the usual security questions were asked before the scan took place each day).

On the 5th (my 3rd scan/day 3 of the study) the ladies setting up the scanner thought I was there for my 2nd scan because of how many markers were still left on my previous scan. It wasn't until someone reminded them that it was Friday that they realised that I must be there for day 3. After seeing my day 3 scan the man reviewing my scans decided that I needed to come back on Monday (the 8th) as there was "still a lot of activity". I'd only received appointments for the 2nd/3rd/4th/5th so I'd been expecting this to be last day of the study so I was pretty surprised. When talking to my mom on the way home she said that she'd seen my scan on the screen and that it looked pretty much identical to the one from the day before.

On the 8th (day 6 of the study) I also had to be there for 9am. We went through the same routine as we had on the 3rd, 4th and 5th (by this point several members of staff knew me by first name!). They reviewed my scan to decide if I needed to come back on Tuesday (the 9th). Thankfully a fair amount of progress had been made since Friday (5th); there was still some markers left but they now had enough information to work with. Just like the results from my gastric emptying study and stomach and bowel scan, the results from my colon transit study will be sent to the Gastro who referred me.

Note: I had to prep for the colon transit study by fasting (both food and drink) from 12pm to 5pm on the 2nd July. I also had to stop taking my laxatives on the 29th June and couldn't take them again until the end of the study (8th July).

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