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Interview 20

Age at interview: 63
Brief Outline: Invited for screening in 2001. The result of his Faecal Occult Blood (FOB) test was abnormal. He had a colonoscopy and polypectomy. Subsequent colonoscopies have all been normal.
Background: A white English man, a Group chairman, married with 2 children.

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He was invited for screening for bowel cancer in 2001. The result of his Faecal Occult Blood test (FOBt) was abnormal so he had a colonoscopy. During the colonoscopy some polyps were found. These were removed and found to be benign (non-cancerous). Since then he has had three more colonoscopies, just to make sure that nothing is wrong. No other abnormalities have been found. 

 

He had no problem drinking the medicines to empty his bowel.

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Did you have to take any special medicines the last day?

Right, yeah, what they do then, they come along and you take some the night before which is type of laxative [laughs] and then like, I don't know how many hours it is before, like about twelve hours before you do, some proper laxative. The only thing I'd advise anybody when you take the proper one you don't leave home you know there was no hesitation about it. You know it's Picolax and something else you take and you take this pint of it and that does sort the job out at the end.

What does that taste like?

Well, taste I'm afraid, I always talk about this, people don't like taking medicines, I have no problem at all drinking anything, taking anything, so I'm in a very lucky position. If I went to members of my family and said, you know, drink that sort of thing it's got to help you, they'd probably refuse because the Picolax has got no taste as I know of, you know, it's just as far as I'm concerned it's just, 'Drink it because it's going to do you good.' And I think if you get that attitude you've no problem with anything.

 

It wasn't painful when the polyps were removed and he watched it all on the screen.

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You described very vividly your first colonoscopy where they found the polyps and you woke up and saw it on the screen. Could you just go over that in a little bit more detail because that's very interesting.

Well basically I go in, on the table, and you lie on your side facing the cameras, not the cameras the television like or whatever it's recorded on. And they're talking to you and the next thing is you're asleep, you know you go off in about minute and that's it. And then the next thing with me, the first time, whether being big they hadn't given me enough of it but I wake up and I can see this tube like and this camera going up and down and all sorts of things happening and it didn't strike me really, because I'm sort of half asleep what was going on. Then when they started talking about they'd found the cause of the problem which is these polyps hanging, they hang from the walls of the bowel then they're on about taking, you know and he said, 'Right we'll go up now, we'll get the lasso and go and do it,' you know. And I'm thinking how are they going to get a lasso to get up there you know because I'd got visions of Roy Rogers the cowboy. But you know then this lasso goes in, then they sort of clip it and they spray it and once they spray it the polyp stands up and they lasso it. Then they just say pull tight and they pull tight and I suppose, I don't know I've never asked him, it must burn it off. And then when they've done the three they then send like a basket, like an old flame in the wall of a castle, one of those type baskets which goes up, that opens out and grasp them out they come. And then it was a case of telling me what it had done. I said, 'Well I saw it all.' And he said, 'You're joking.' I said, 'No.'

Did it feel uncomfortable when they were doing that or was it alright?

Not at all, no. I think, as I say, the only time you feel any uncomfortableness is when they're really trying to come as high as they can into your bowels and I think when they come to the end that's the bit where you know you think blimey what's that? But there is no after effects whatsoever, none whatsoever and I don't think I've heard of anybody who's said they've had after effects.

 

Shows the type of test card he used and explains that you must not open the back of it.

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Could you just explain to people exactly what you do day by day?

This is a sample of the card that I had on the first time. Basically, there, there's three flaps as you can see one, two, three. The first day hold the flap up, there's two circles there, all you do is put the sample onto the two circles, you needn't put loads of it, just enough to fill the circle. Put the flap down and then that folds into the bottom underneath the thing. Then the next day lift the flap up again, do exactly the same, tuck it down and in and then it goes away in a, like a an aluminium foil envelope so that it's completely sealed. Don't open the back because then that ruins everything. It says 'do not open' on it but from what I've been told a lot of people do. But it's so easy, day one, day two, and then day three. Clip it back down, into the envelope, into the post and every time I've done it the results have been less than 72 hours.

 

For three or four days before a colonoscopy he ate a low fibre diet, which included fish and...

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I find now that I can prepare myself fairly well. They ask you not to eat anything green-wise, or fibre and all that, for three or four days. I normally, if I've got to have the test done on a Wednesday, on the Saturday I would sort of go onto to a sensible thing where I, I've found if I took, I love fish, fish and mashed potatoes was what I went through, and I just kept enough going into my system. When I got there every time they've [the doctors] complimented me on the fact that, how can you put it nicely, there's no rubbish left in me so they could see every little bit of what they wanted to see. I think one of the biggest problems people, even I didn't realise that your food can lie in you, especially your roast beef dinner for four or five days.

And that's the sort of thing that makes it very, very hard for them to work.

So what foods do they recommend that you have for a few days before?

Well fish, a light fish and that sort of stuff. Or they don't like pasta because of the fibre and that. There was so many things but I think what you've got to do is find something that suits you and suits them as well.

 

The doctor phoned him within a few days to say that the polyps were benign (not cancerous).

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So after the colonoscopy the doctor told you what he'd done and told you the result?

No he told me that he'd taken them [the polyps] off and they would go away to the lab. When they come back from the lab he would ring me immediately and he did. I think, I can't remember exact times but it was within three, four days and he said, 'They're benign', that was it, which of course then is the greatest relief of all you know.

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