If I thought trouble swallowing food was unpleasant, I quickly realised a gastroscopy is even more so! Though the doctor and nurses were very positive before the examination once the camera was sliding down my throat the doctor muttered a loud "Oh no!" and, at that point, I knew bad times lay ahead.
After the procedure he explained to me I had a tumour in my throat and he arranged for a CT scan to see how far it had spread.
The CT scan would show it has spread to my lymph nodes but was still within the relatively treatable range of cancers (though cancer of the oesophagus, which is what I've got, is one of the more dangerous sorts even at the earliest identifiable stage).
So I got a referral to Guys and St Thomas' hospital trust to perform a PET scan and a staging laparoscopy.
That's where I was this Monday (after a truly awful night in the most uncomfortable prison cell/hospital hotel I've ever experienced). After the PET scan at St Thomas', I headed to Guys for a pre-surgery assessment. When I was there my nurse called to say my surgery had been cancelled, which had been scheduled for Tuesday, and I was free to go home.
Wednesday came and I headed back up to London with Jim for a meeting with a doctor to discuss my PET scan results. After an initial trauma of discovering I'm 1cm shorter than I thought (202cm it seems!), we sat down with the doctor who was already talking in a soothing (and thus worrying tone). He informed us that my cancer had already spread well beyond my oesophagus and into my bones at several points around my body. My surgery was cancelled as my cancer is thus incurable.
I always prepare for the worst so I wasn't actually that surprised (I'd been reading some studies as to why laparoscopies get cancelled so I sort of knew this was going to be a "really bad news" chat). However, it was still a bit of a blow to discover my expiry date has been moved forward dramatically and I'm now entering "end of life" care.
I'm not as devastated as I'd imagined. My main concerns as my care enters this final phase is being able to eat a bit more normally if possible and being able to sleep (trapped wind is a serious issue for me right now, probably from a mixture of the tumour extending into my stomach and the difficulty eating/drinking).
It all seems a bit surreal, especially as my most difficult symptom so far is trapped wind! But the last chapter of my life has begun. At least I get the privilege of knowing that it has and doing what I can to make it as nice an ending to my story as possible.
So, Dear Constant Reader, that's my latest update. I'll try not to let this be the final one though.