After weeks of discomfort and worry I finally decided it was not a passing bug but something more serious and so consulted my GP.
“Why,” I asked, “am I constantly burping, and waking in the night with stomach pains?”
My Family Doctor has looked after me for years now and has a pretty good knowledge of my medical history stored in his memory. Nonetheless, he said he wanted to check my file in detail, but in the meantime I was to have some blood tests. So I submitted to the needle and went home to await the results.
About a week later I received a call from the surgery and was told that the good doctor had made an appointment for me with a Gastro specialist (gastroenterologist) for the following week, and needed to confirm that I could make it. Well, by that time I was ready to drop any arrangement I had, just as long as I could find out what was wrong with me, especially as I was also now suffering with a bad case of insomnia on top of everything else. So the appointment was fixed for the following week and I was instructed to take a stool sample with me.
I duly went along the following week, handed in my stool sample and underwent a few more tests that seemed pretty straightforward and not at all frightening. Then, with an appointment for the following week I went back home once again to await the results.
By this time I was becoming quite depressed as the lack of sleep, the discomfort in my stomach and the constant burping, were all combining to make my life a complete misery.
Finally with results of all the tests in front of him, the GI specialist told me that before he could confirm his diagnosis of ‘H. pylori’ he would like to do a stomach biopsy. He told me he could do this himself in his surgery and that there would be no need for hospitalisation. However, this meant waiting for another appointment as before the biopsy was carried out I had to go without food or water for about 12 hours. So an early small evening meal the night before, timed for just before I started the count down.
Finally the biopsy was done. Not very comfortable, I must admit, but nothing particularly painful. I was given a sedative and my mouth and throat were sprayed with a light anaesthetic spray. I had to help to swallow a long tube that went down into my stomach. Not only was this to remove some tissue from the lining of my stomach – totally painless, but also it allowed him to check visually on what was going on inside. The endoscope has a little camera that sends pictures to a computer screen. I must admit I was quite happy not to look.
The diagnosis was confirmed and I was told that I had h pylori, which is a rather nasty infection which is particularly difficult to treat but can, with patience, be treated and eradicated.
Now that you have read my story, perhaps you are worrying that you or someone you know could have the same infection. So from my experience let me take you through it, although it is imperative that after reading this if you feel that you could have fallen prey to this nasty little bug, then you should make an appointment to see your doctor without delay.