Leaky bottoms and Bowel screening

Guest post by Pat Onions. Regular readers here will remember Pat is registered blind so you will understand the difficulties she outlines below.

David has a bit of a problem. One of many but this is something that many will not like to hear. He has a leaky bottom. It could be related to his spinal injuries or it may not. It could be his age or it may not.

Numerous visits to neurology, pain and incontinent consultants who have carried out assorted ‘procedures’ have shown nothing concrete. Ooooh that could be painful.

He was referred to the incontinence nurse who, whilst sympathetic, are really more concerned with other leaky orifices. They recommended him to wear a type of nappy. He does in spite of being conscious of the inconvenience. (Sorry about dreadful puns.)

Some years ago when I reached that magical 50 when bits start to wear out or drop off I was sent a bowel cancer testing kit. Many of similar age will understand what you have to do but for those younger it involves a minute wooden spatula, some even smaller instructions and you provide your own marigolds. I won’t explain the method…. suffice to say it is a delight for everyone to look forward too.

I peered into this tiny package and in very bold very large letters I was instructed DO NOT OPEN. Nope I wasn’t going to manage it so it was resigned to the bin.

Last week by now several years older I received another package just as tiny. This time i called the help line and asked if I could have mine in a larger format. Hoping the whole lot would be large enough for me to manage I was disappointed. Only the instructions had been enlarged. Once again I peered hopelessly at it. I would leave it a bit and ‘see’ what I could do.

A phone call from the District Nurse at our surgery sent my blood pressure rocketing. She wanted to visit David to check he is wearing his nappies correctly. You can’t make these things up.

‘Oh good’ – she can help me perform with my tiny spatula and I promise that I will wear the marigolds.

She arrived to see David armed with THE TICK BOX LIST. Don’t we just love them? Wanted to know which drugs he takes. Fair enough. Marital status? That’s relevant. How much he drank? For why? Type of accommodation we lived in. Interesting. I felt we were fast becoming a statistic. X% of men aged 60+ who live in old mining villages, take 14 different drugs a day, like a tipple or 3 and have a wife called Pat and have leaky bots…..

Anyway. Big dos and little dos and she finished. I spotted my chance to ask for her help with my ‘little’ package. She was so helpful and read out all the instructions for me. The same ones the ever so nice helpline had enlarged for me. She even showed me what to do. “But I can’t see the little windows” I lamented. Silence while she worked out what was coming next. “Give it a try” she answered heading for the door….”Any problems see your GP.”

Bowel screening is a vital test to catch that type of cancer early. It is treatable, successfully, if caught early enough and I want to do the test.

My brother died a short time ago from bowel cancer. He didn’t die because he didn’t wear the nappies correctly.

Pat Onions

If you have any further questions call the national bowel screening helpline on 0800 0121 833

 

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