As the party piece didn't show anything, the consultant's secretary calls to confirm that the colonoscopy will be needed after all. I was hoping to avoid this, as apparently it involves fasting, liquid diets and laxatives. But, hey ho, I do believe that no medical professional really wants to do unnecessary procedures on their patients and we seem to have exhausted the non-invasive tests so let's get on with it.
The hospital calls and leaves a message on my voicemail. Can I please come to the hospital outpatients' department to collect a bowel pack? Apparently I need to do this at least a week pre procedure and between the hours of 9 and 5, Monday to Friday. Now whatever people think about the UK benefits system, it does not pay enough for people who don't work to have private medical insurance. There is therefore a pretty good chance that I HAVE A JOB. No, I cannot do this in the 2 day time frame (work is manic, lots of people on holiday and I already have to take two full days off plus one day working from home next week). And I cannot get through to Outpatients to explain this. Fortunately the consultant's secretary, who I call in a flap, comes to my rescue and sorts it out.
Bowel pack collected (NB: if you ever need this done you can't, whatever they say, just walk in and pick the pack up. It's like a medical appointment), the serious prep starts Tuesday. I eat nothing but jelly, yoghurt and cup a soup all day, nothing solid or with any bits in. Surprisingly I don't get hungry, although my colleagues think I'm very odd. I decide that beer is a liquid, so I don't cancel drinks with my friends from my old workplace but get through 2 lager shandies, to no ill effect. Wednesday is clear fluids only, meaning that I drink beef consommé and Marmite for the first time in years. Again, surprisingly not hungry. At noon I'm supposed to take the first laxative, which comes with the warning that after taking it I should stay close to the toilet. However, I have a conference call and decide that an hour won't make any difference, so at 1 pm I neck the powdery solution and wait. And wait. And wait. Nothing happens.
So at 5 pm I neck the second dose. And stay glued to the loo for the rest of the night. There is brown, foul-smelling water running out of my bottom. I had thought there would be stomach cramps, but that doesn't happen, just liquid, so much liquid (the laxative stops the colon absorbing water and shifts the whole system into overdrive, so it's flushing out as well as simply clearing the bowel). The action slows down a little overnight but I'm still up a couple of times. Lovely.