Today is Friday. This past Monday June 2 I was scheduled for my first post-cancer diagnosis one year routine colonoscopy. The previous week I had a three month visit with my colorectal surgeon. He is also the Dr. who installed and removed the port from my left upper breast. The timing of these two appointments was quite excellent. Though, at the time I made the appointments I do not recall any such conscious planning. Whahooo! Fate worked in my favor.
During the digital probe the colorectal surgeon said something akin to, if not exactly, “Hmm!” More insistent probing in circular motions his fingers pressing hard against the internal rectal/anal area of my previous Anal Cancer. “HMM?!??” “What do you MEAN Hmm?!”
“I am feeling something I don’t believe I felt three months ago.” Pause. “I am going to use the scope so I can get a better LOOK (and feel) in the area.” What am I going to say? “No?” I acquiesce unhappily and a bit frightened. “Go ahead. You know better than I what to do here. (There!)”
So, in goes this scoping tool aptly named anoscope. This goes in several inches beyond where the Dr.’s finger can probe. Oh, yay. I breath as if I am repeating the breathing I learned 29 years ago in Lamaze class at Humana Alaska Hospital. Since renamed to Providence Health Center and then, on to something more fancy. At least, that is my recollection. Though, it remained Humana throughout the years my children were birthed there. Ooops. Off topic again.
My Dr. continues to say, “I don’t believe I felt anything at during your last visit.” I respond that he is correct. That is my recollection, as well. He had NOT felt any thing. My heart dropped. Like the reluctant parachuter pushed the door of an airplane at 35,000 feet. I remain stoic. “Breath in,” I tell myself. “Breath out. Breath in…” To breath in again I have to actually breath out.
I am fully aware I am holding my breath. Physically holding my breath deep in my lungs and low in my throat. When I get into this emotional predicament it is imperative that I consciously override my need to hold my breath and the more pressing need to let it out. There is an actual debate going on inside my head on whether I can even let my breath out. The opposing side argues that I must let it go. Literally, let “it” go. You have to let yourself breath. “No I don’t” Yes, You do. You have to.” Of course, I argue that I don’t. All the while still holding my breath.
The more rational part of me yells at me Breath in. Breathing ou. Breathing o. BREATH OUT DAMNIT! BREATH OUT!!
After probably 15 seconds I do let my breath out. Controlled. Slowly. I know I have to breath in. Which, for some reason is much easier than breathing out. So, my breathing returns to that of the calculated, controlled Lamaze method.
I want to cry and yet, I do not want to. Can I get much more ambivalent about this whole thing? Yeah? Watch me. Dr. Colorectal probes, pushes, FEELS ALL around for a little bit longer. He is not happy at what he has found. Neither am I. “I want to get a biopsy.” I tell him, “I have a colonoscopy scheduled for this coming Monday.” He says, “Good.”
“Please call my GI doing the colonoscopy and tell him how large you want the biopsies. Because, last time you were not satisfied with the size of the biopsies and made me go into the outpatient surgery in order for you to get what you wanted.” We both chuckle a bit. It is rather comical. Not that I thought so a year ago. “And expensive,” I tell him. He says, “I will call him.” “Thanks.”
Inside my head, “Oh, yay. More pieces of my asshole being cut out. What am I going to do? I am going to follow through and have the colonoscopy.”
Monday June 2 my friend takes me to the outpatient surgery center where the colonoscopy will be performed. Fully under anesthesia, by demand. I have already changed out of my clothes into the lovely gowns I am given. One open at the back and a “robe,” with a distinct maroon collar, open at the front. I get into my bed and the inquest begins.
“What is your name?” “What is your date of birth?” “When was the last time you ate?” “When was the last time you had a bowel movent?” “Was your last bowel movement…?” I cut her off, “My last bowel movement was the same color and consistency of the Lemon/Lime Gatorade G2 I drank this morning.” She really was sweet. We both giggled a little. She went on to ask about my medications, which ones did I take that morning, how long ago did I take my Metformin? “I took half last night and half a tab this morning as instructed.”
“That is very good. Thank you.” “I see you take Albuteral. When was the last time you used it?”
“Yes. OH DAMNINT! I forgot my inhaler. I know I was supposed to bring it. But, clearly, I forgot. The last time I used it was a couple of weeks prior.” I had to use my inhaler the Saturday before last because, a woman at my congregation was wearing so much perfume that it triggered an asthma attack. I tried to ignore the coughing for a minute trying not to have to use my inhaler. But, the saner debater inside won that argument and I pulled it from my purse, put the open tube end in my mouth, pressed the medicine cylinder down, hearing that distinct swift squishy sound of water being forced through a smaller opening than it needed. Fortunately, it does not squeal or sing like a full balloon being purposely emptied in the slowest and most musical manner possible. I breathed the medicine in. Twice. It helped almost instantly. Thank you.
While she is still taking my information another nurse enters and tells me, ‘There is something going on in the surgical suite and my colonoscopy is delayed. “We expect to be able to get you going in about another hour and a half.” Tick, tick, nurse returns a couple of times explaining that it might be a little longer. Tick, tick, tick. Finally, nearing one o’clock the Anesthesiologist comes in. He introduces himself. For all I know his name was Dr. Duck. Donald Duck. Like I am supposed to remember his name or have seen him prior to controlling my ability to be fully unaware and completely out of consciousness during the procedure. Apparently, some people prefer to stay awake. I am not that controlling (in other words, Anal Retentive.) Anyway, he and I go through another question and answer dance. Always including the basic two questions, “Please tell me your name (I guess that actually counts as a command not a question.) and “What is your date of birth?” That was actually a question. Like a good patient I provide him the information he requested. “Ok. We will be getting started in just a few minutes.”
A few minutes go by and my GI Dr. comes in. We succeed in accomplishing that little command/question dance of wanting/giving my name and DOB. He tells me that he spoke with Dr. Colorectal and is aware he wants biopsies of the specific area. I remind him, “Please make sure you take large enough pieces to satisfy Dr. Colorectal so, he doesn’t have to make me go through this again to get bigger samples.” “I talked to him and understand what he wants. Don’t worry I will get large enough pieces,” he assures me.
I breath a little easier. Somewhere during the hour and a half wait a nurse installed an intravenous cannula and started giving me saline solution. Which, was a good thing. At that point I had drunk nothing since about 9:00 that morning and had eaten nothing since 8:00 pm the night before that. So, I was very hungry and thirsty. Thirsty she could do something about. Hang a bag and start the drip. The food however, was going to have to wait. Grrrr.
The last thing I remember was my bed being pushed into the operating room and thinking that was a very large lamp with four concave divots filled with small bright bulbs. I was asked to turn on my left side. Which, I did and…
I woke up around 3:00 pm. Surprisingly clear headed. But, not as much so that I do not want to nod right off again. GI Dr. comes in at some point. He tells me that he got the two LARGE biopsies Dr. Colorectal requested. “We found a couple of polyps and removed those. We (apparently the Royal “WE”) also found Diverticulosis.” “Osis not Itis?” “Right, DiverticulOsis.” He explains the difference to me. I am sure I did not know there was such a thing as the osis part of the Diverticul…. (See link above and educate yourselves.)
“NO SEEDS OR NUTS???” That much I knew. “OMG, what am I going to do with Poppy Seed bagels and hands full of Pecans,” I say out LOUD. No?!? Pecan Pie, Pecan Brittle, Pecans on my ice cream…???? “You do not have to give any of those up.” I heard the unheard, “Yet” in his manner. For now I am ok. If I feel pains in the left side of my abdomen I might find out I will have to give those up. But, for now I am still a seed and nut head.
Biopsy results are not expected until one to two weeks post colonoscopy. Which, could mean as early as tomorrow or the end of next week. Yeah. I like waiting to know whether I have Cancer again and really, at this point, the worse part of my fear is chemoradiation. My butt and innards are still not fully recovered from last years (albeit successful) bombardment.
My perineum still is rather raw meaning I cannot sit on hard surfaces unless, I lean fully on one hip or the other. As I found out a few months ago that leads to painful bursitis of the hip requiring cortisone injection(s), My bowels are still responding to food by causing me to instant requirement of finding a bathroom. At least once a day. Which, seems to be about the same time. So, when possible I make sure I am at home or if out, I already know where the “Rest Rooms” are. The other two times a day I seem to have pretty good control. It’s that one time in the month time I think I have control and its just a fart. Only to instantly feel the heat and substance to know I was wrong. Fortunately, that has only happened at home. I think I am just going to have to continue to carry a Ditty Bag (Baby wipes, clean underwear, clean shorts to change into, plastic bag to contain the uh-oh.) with me in one form or another. Forever. The upside of that “Forever” so far, is that due to chemoradiation I have a “Forever”.
So, I have been keeping busy this week. Waiting. Sigh. What ever comes I will deal with it.