I underwent a gastroscopy and colonoscopy on Wednesday, but the procedure wasn’t actually the bad part. That would be the preparation.
Eating a low fibre diet for a day was tricky when almost every food I eat is high in fibre, but I did manage to make a very tasty meal out of white rice, tofu, and a generous amount of spices. The next day was worse, because I wasn’t allowed to eat anything after breakfast. I’m not one of those people who fasts – under normal circumstances I can’t make it halfway to lunchtime without a mid-morning snack – so I drank a lot of mint tea with sugar and a few cups of Vegemite dissolved in hot water to give me the sensation of eating.
The fasting still wasn’t the worst part of the preparation, however. The worst part was the effects of the generous dose of laxatives, the consequent lack of sleep, and then having to get up at 04:00 to take my last dose in time for my morning appointment.
So after all that, the procedure itself was fine. I was a little disappointed by the sedation, which was fentanyl and midazolam. It worked, but I’d expected more from fentanyl given its reputation in the US. I didn’t feel all that great, more just a bit weird around the edges. I certainly wouldn’t choose it as a recreational drug. It’s not a patch on morphine.
The reason I’ve been undergoing all this unpleasantness is that last time I went to give blood, my iron levels were very low. The parsimonious explanation for this is that giving blood six times a year, the regular interval for male donors, is probably too often given my weight (around 60 kg) and the amount of iron I’m getting from my diet. However, because anaemia can indicate something worse, the system instantly assigns you to the Cancer Pathway to eliminate that possibility. This might be the only part of the NHS that is still running well despite approximately thirteen years of underinvestment and active neglect.
The happy result of all these investigations is that there’s nothing obviously amiss with my digestive tract. I hope that means that all I need is some iron supplements.
I spent Saturday at Barcamp London XII despite the best efforts of TfL. The Overground was closed all weekend, and the alternative of the Jubilee line was closed until mid afternoon, leaving me stranded on the peninsula with only buses for escape.
Nonetheless, via bus and train, I made it up to the extreme north of the outer limits of Zone 3, to Tottenham, a place I’ve never visited before, in time for the start.
The event, a participatory unconference, was enjoyable and interesting. The seven session rooms were named after planets, from Mercury through Uranus, in keeping with the theme of the week.
I met new people and people I hadn’t seen in ages. I thought about doing a session myself, but as it was my first time and I’d been rather distracted during the week, I decided to be a bit more passive this time.
The venue was a very slick modern purpose-built school, and the catering was healthy, varied, and much better than usual conference fare. I had to laugh at the name of the school, though: the London Academy of Excellence. No one’s going to call their school an “academy of mediocrity”, are they? “Excellence” is ostentatious but ultimately it’s nothing more than ornamentation.
A nearby café on White Hart Lane had a much better name: Tottenham Hot Spuds.
- My talk at Brighton Ruby Conference earlier in the year is now online.
- London’s most dangerous junctions for cycling and walking.
- Monaspace is a family of monospace fonts from GitHub, with an open licence (SIL).
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