CT scan barium drink

What you see here is the remaining 400ml of the barium swallow I had to drink before undergoing a CT Scan two weeks ago. Ideally, you’re supposed to gulp down the lot, but – trust me – that’s a lot easier in theory than reality. It’s part-orange, part-chalk, part-soup. However, seeing as it was full to the brim when the pathology assistant handed it to me, I don’t think I did too badly.

I made a face as I took it off him.

“I know, it’s a lot,” he said.

I tried to set my face, smiled, nodded and said I’d do my best. As it turned out, I would have another hour or so to drink and wait to let it go through my system – something I wasn’t told over the phone – and so we settled in for the wait. Yes, we. Keira was home ill, still getting over her own bugs, and came along too. The last thing I wanted to do was let her know I was having more tests, in case it worried her. Turns out I needn’t have bothered on that score – she was perky (a suspiciously miraculous recovery from that morning, now I think about it), fascinated and blithe whenever my gag reflex kicked in as I was drinking the barium and I struggled to keep it down.

“Just drink the barium,” I said to myself. “Let them inject you with the iodine. Get those pictures. Get those answers.”

A week later, they came through.

“There’s nothing anatomically wrong,” my doctor said.

“What does that mean?” I asked as I sat in front of him.

“No nasties. No cancer.”

All clear. I breathed out a breath I’d been holding for months.


I’ve lost 4.5 kilos since all this began, and although some of that might be put down to marathon training, a great deal of the reason is due to the gut issues. “Please see your doctor if you have unexplained weight loss” is what the websites tell you. Well, I did. I have. The weight keeps dropping.


I was all by myself on the weekend. The kids and Adam went away camping. I was due for an outside long run and so I went, spending two hours in crisp, glorious sunshine. I thought a lot while I was out there – about the ultrarunner Scott Jurek, whose book I’ve just finished, noticing the surroundings. There were the cute couples out walking their Scottish Terriers in matching UNIQLO puffy jackets. I ran past two separate games of football. Cars were parked on the perimeter, watching. One man caught my eye as I went passed and he smiled, kindly; in a ‘good on you’ kind of way.

I also thought a lot about this blog. What I want to write about, goals, putting myself back in the frame. That’s what the marathon training has shown me so far – it’s not going to get done unless I make the time to put in the work. Or, perhaps it could be done without work, but at the risk of breaking me. I don’t want that.

Cleared land

This used to be a beautiful glade of trees. Wandering through it would be a part of a regular walk we would take as a family in the woods behind our house. The same glade a newspaper photographer who came to take my picture took me to because our house was too ugly. Now it’s gone. I didn’t know until I ran past. I was angry. I am angry. But life is change, I guess.

I mightn’t like it, I could rail against it, but it won’t alter anything.

I thought about all this as I ran, and it helps ease my mind. I can’t tell you how much of a relief that is.


Two family members have recently been diagnosed with cancer. Fuck cancer.


Here is my shadow, this is me. I am strong; I drank the barium.

Time to get on.

long run

Every single one of us possesses the strength

Karen Andrews

Karen Andrews is the creator of this website, one of the most established and well-respected parenting blogs in the country. She is also an author, award-winning writer, poet, editor and publisher at Miscellaneous Press. Her latest book is Trust the Process: 101 Tips on Writing and Creativity