Don’t be fearful of that hospital procedure…it could save your life

I want to address the ‘C’ word. Not Covid, not Christmas – the ‘C’ word I want to address is colonoscopy. Why? Because last Saturday, due to my family’s genes and having put this invasive and embarrassing procedure off twice, I finally had to succumb and undergo an ‘investigation’.

Apologies for being so graphic, but who in their right mind voluntarily undergoes a procedure where a complete stranger sedates you and inserts a tube up your derriere? And yes, I do know that this stranger is an expert medical professional and the process they’re performing could save your life…but how mortifying.

It all began when my darling dad’s surgeon ‘strongly’ advised the family to get screened following his colon cancer diagnosis. Thankfully, Dad’s surgery was successful. However, having spoken with my own lovely Dr. Claire at Boyle Medical Centre, I found myself in possession of a referral letter for Roscommon University Hospital. The call came as I stood in a supermarket queue. I was offered a selection of dates from a hospital admin who was ‘putting together a list for colonoscopies’. Caught off guard, and terrified, I reluctantly agreed to Saturday 20th.

As soon as the letter arrived, I spent the run-up to my appointment in utter fear and dread. My terror heightened when I got my prescription for the ‘Klean Prep’, a solution designed by the devil to clean out your colon. This product does exactly what it says on the box – which by the way was so large it could have concealed a laptop inside!

The ‘prep’ began by restricting my food 72 hours prior to the procedure, with easy-to-digest solids like poultry, fish and eggs etc., being allowed. As a vegan, I don’t consume these foods, meaning my usual diet of berries, crunchy veg, nuts and seeds were out, leaving nothing other than clear vegetable broth, which, let’s face it, is code for water!

The day before, following the instructions on the pack (to the letter), I mixed each of the four sachets with water into one-litre measures. That’s four litres! I drank the entire contents, which were, according to the comedian who concocted the ‘prep’, ‘vanilla-flavoured’. The truth? It tasted like a mixture of toilet cleaner with a hint of vomit. I don’t wish to be even more graphic or to upset anyone, but the results of consuming this evil potion rendered me confined to the loo all day Friday.

I wanted to address the subject of colonoscopies because I know so many people put off being screened due to the nature of the examination. That’s what I did. However, if colon cancer is discovered early, it’s highly treatable.

I want to say a massive thank you to everyone who took care of me at Roscommon University Hospital’s Endoscopy Unit last Saturday. You are absolutely amazing people. Our County Hospital and its exceptional staff made me feel both safe and secure, especially when they gave me the all-clear, telling me they’d be inviting me back in five years’ time for a repeat performance. Having experienced your professionalism, expertise, confidence and compassion, I genuinely feel that I could not have been placed in better hands. Thank you so much.

I also must mention the pre-op assessment nurse Jackie who took time to chat with me on the phone, and my own doctor Claire, who advised I should have the investigation and who did her best to put my mind at ease when I was on the verge of meltdown.

No thanks whatsoever will ever go to the sadist who designed the hospital garments I was forced to wear as I was wheeled to theatre to face the moment I’d been dreading since 2019! A blue paper-like gown and a pair of blue shorts combo, featuring a peep-hole cut out of the rear! Seriously?

In all sincerity, despite someone boldly going where no-one has ever gone before (okay, me), I feel very privileged to have been given the opportunity to be screened when so many around the country are having procedures cancelled due to the pressure this pandemic has placed on hospitals. Once again, thank you to what I believe to be the best of the best medical professionals at our local hospital – because of you, I will not panic when my follow-up colonoscopy appointment arrives in five years’ time. Oh and thanks for the coffee and the soda bread afterwards. It was much appreciated.


Garth Brooks’ appeal totally eludes me!

We’re still haunted by the memory of his 2014 ‘five-in-a-row’ fiasco, when Dublin City Council granted Garth Brooks a licence to play three shows, but being greedy (in my opinion), he pushed for five and eventually pulled out like a spoiled brat when he didn’t get his way. Despite that, ‘it’s time to begin – now count it in…5-6-7-8’ – the boot scootin’ cowboy, whose voice (and songs) grate on my ears, has been given the green light to play five gigs next year at Croke Park.

As someone who can only name one of Brooks’ songs, I have to ask, can anyone please explain this heavy-hatted warbler’s popularity, because his overall appeal totally eludes me?

Yes, his visit’s said to be worth an estimated whopping €24 million to the economy! Yes, his gigs are guaranteed to generate hundreds of jobs! Yes, rural Ireland (not me) is rumoured to be practicing the cupid shuffle, the chicken dance, and the electric slide etc. (whatever they are) in preparation for the hoedown! However, even though the country music world has produced some wonderful performers (Dolly Parton, Shania Twain etc.), it’s my opinion that some of the worst music ever recorded has come from – hold onto your Stetsons folks – Mr. Brooks!

I can honestly say that even if Mr. Brooks was prepared to crawl, swim, or fly into my back garden next year to play those gigs, I’d pull my blinds, lock my door, and put earplugs in my ears.


Stay safe and ignore fake, frequently forwarded ‘lockdown’ messages

Despite all those WhatsApp messages/Facebook posts etc. (probably spread by messers claiming to be ‘in the know’ due to a ‘relative’ working in the HSE, the Gardaí, or the Defence Forces etc.,), I’m choosing not to hop on the bandwagon of panic, fear, and dread that a Christmas lockdown is imminent.

Earlier this week, I got a text from a close relative giving me ‘the nod’ that he’d just heard ‘from a reliable source’ that a ‘lockdown is happening’. When I enquired about who this ‘reliable source’ was, his answer was (wait for it) the taxi driver.

Please take care folks – wash your hands, cut your social plans/contacts down to a third, wear your mask, maintain your social distancing, and (if you can) get vaccinated. Do not give any credence to messages regarding lockdown unless they come from a true, reliable, credible, and accurate medical/government source.