I swallowed a camera, for science!

I have had many cameras look inside my body. I have had keyhole surgery. I have had all the scans and the liquids required for them. But I have never swallowed a camera and carried a small tv screen around with me before October 2022. It was the most exciting and wonderful 8 hours. However, the preceding 24 hours SUCKED.

Just because it's a pill didn't mean I didn't have to go through the hell that is MoviPrep A and B the day before. Pharmaceutical companies must stop trying to flavour products—especially those which are heavily salty. MoviPrep is either lemon or orange. Go ahead, have some orange squash, and dump a rake of salt into it. Now drink a litre of that in 20 minutes. Then in about four hours, while the world is falling out of your arse, do it again. I hope that no one has to experience that.

The following morning I was as clean as a whistle. If I had burped, I would have sucked my trousers up. I could have farted Amhrán na bhFiann.

It was the GI Pill Cam by GIVEN Imaging. The capsule was slightly larger than one of the pills I already took. The aim was to look at the part of my GI Tract which an endoscopy and colonoscopy couldn’t reach. That bit in the middle. No man's land. The Maginot Line.

Image: Green-coloured curved stripes behind a female. An inset image of the casing of the GI PillCam. The female is the author. She is wearing black and a graphic t-shirt. She has a strap across her chest and a large band across her waist. There’s a small satchel on her hip and some blue wires. She is wearing a surgical mask.

It reached my stomach in the time it took to swallow and get the gear on. I watched in amazement. That was my insides. That is part of me no one should be seeing. After my child-like joy subsided, I felt exposed. And a bit fatalistic. The up-scope and down-scopes were invasive, painful, and dehumanising. But this was passive. It was working away while I was working away. I could flip up the wee screen and have a sconce.

I “bottom's up” at about 8 am. And I had to return at 4 pm to hand over the screen and receiver. Only two places in Ireland do this procedure, and the Mercy in Cork City is one of them. The team also posts it to remote communities for patients who can't travel to Cork or Dublin. And this is hilarious for non-medical reasons.

After I had returned the receiver and small computer at 4 pm, the pill cam appeared at 11 pm in a plop and flashing of lights. As is my way, I fished it out, cleaned it up, and cleaned it up again the following morning. And kept it. But in these remote communities, the patients often wear the receiver when this happens. My gastro consultant told me they get the imagery back, which carries on recording until the little battery runs out. So yes, they get the photo of the patient looking in the toilet. They get the picture of them running into the kitchen/living room/garden to show the family. And they get the photo of the whole gang looking at and passing the capsule around. I like that. All the lads got of me was my inside. At least these patients get to show the outside and the excitement and hope that this little thing will help find a cure—or even just some relief of their symptoms.

I'm all clear. My consultant was surprised at its arrival at 11 pm. But overall happy with the whole journey. Nothing showed up; everything was in tip-top condition. So what the feck is going on in there?

Beir bua agus beannacht.