Sydney. Not quite as pleasant as some recent activities…

The trip from Sapporo to Sydney took about 30 hours altogether, as I had to fly from Sapporo to Haneda airport, then cross Tokyo to Narita airport, and then fly from there to Cairns, arriving at 5am, and having to wait five hours for the flight down the coast to Sydney.

The last leg of the journey was down the beautiful east coast of Australia, and I was lucky enough to have a whole row of seats to myself, and managed to see a lot of the coast on the right side of the plane on the way down. I took a few pictures of the tropical islands, but unfortunately I missed seeing Hamilton Island, about which I will have more to write shortly, as we had flown inland by then. Before landing I moved back to my seat on the left side of the plane, and was treated to a fantastic view of Sydney as we approached for landing.

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My plans for Sydney are nowhere near as exciting as some of the other activities I have enjoyed recently, but perhaps more important. As I have written previously, bowel cancer took my father at a relatively young age, and it is suggested that because of this I should have fairly regular tests.

So I had made arrangements with Julien from the Bowel Cancer & Digestive Research Institute to book in for a colonoscopy, and my first job, straight off the plane, was to go to a doctor’s appointment to get a referral for the proceedure.

The next morning I woke and had a tasty breakfast consisting only of a couple of glasses of water. In order for the doctor to perform a thorough examination, the bowel has to be completely cleaned out, and I was not looking forward to that afternoon and evening! I enjoyed a bit of a wander round Sydney in the morning before heading to the hospital. The fruit bats living in the park were a bit of a surprise!

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I met the doctor at 2pm for my initial consultation, and he explained how things would work, and what the implications of it all were. I was sent back to my hotel with three sachet of powder which would cause the neccessary cleansing before the procedure that would take place the following afternoon. I was not allowed to eat anything at all, and was getting a bit hungry, to say the least.

At 4pm I took the first sachet, drank copious amounts of water, and waited apprehensively for it to take effect. For quite some time it seemed as though nothing was going to happen, but when it finally did, it was quite spectacular, but not in a particularly pleasant way!!

I took the second sachet at 8pm, with similarly distressing results, and set my alarm for 6am, when I was scheduled to take the final sachet, with the now familiar effects.

I was very hungry for the rest of the morning, and at lunchtime I headed back to the hospital, where I was admitted and taken upstairs to be fitted with the regulation hospital gown, which, yes, is open at the back!

I had to wait nervously for another couple of long hours, but I think the hunger was about as bad as the apprehension. Eventually an orderly came to wheel me into the procedure room, and I was given a mild sedative, and told to roll on my side! The whole experience was not quite as bad as I had imagined it might be, and there was no real embarrasment, as all was done very professionally. It was actually quite interesting to watch the progress of the camera as the study was undertaken.

The end result was that I was given the all-clear, and sent home quite relieved.

Despite the fact that, out of everything I have done in the last six months, this is something I have been looking forward to the least, I am very glad to have had it done, and can now spend the next five years completely worry-free on this particular matter.

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As the tagline on the Bowel Cancer & Digestive Research Institute’s paperwork says, “Don’t Die Of Embarrassment.” Some facts:

* Approximately 1 in 21 people will be diagnosed with bowel cancer before the age of 75.
* 240 new cases are diagnosed every week
* 90 Australians die every week of bowel cancer.
* Bowel cancer is the second-most common cause of cancer-related death, after lung cancer.
* A simple test can show early indications of potential problems.
* Bowel cancer is one of the most curable types of cancers if found early enough.
* It is suggested that you get tested routinely from the age of 50.
* Speak to your doctor – don’t die of embarrassment!

For further information see:

The Bowel Cancer & Digestive Research Institute of Australia is a registered charity endorsed by the Australian Tax Office. Thank you – anything is very gratefully received.

One more day left in Sydney, which I plan to take pretty easy, and then it’s time to head back to Perth, completing my first ever full circumnavigation of the globe!

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