Monday, July 1, 2013

A little chat about 'bummer' exams/surgeries

Well, since I've been completely open about Melanoma, I might as well be open about everything else medical going on my life.  Here is a little about....(dun, dun, duuuuun) colonoscopies.  

Excitable tummies run in my family.  My mom and grandma also have/had excitable tummies.  I like that: “excitable tummy“, that sounds better than “bubbly guts“.  So, growing up with a mom having an excitable stomach made me think that mine is completely normal.  Until the day that I poo’d blood.  LOTS of blood.  Like ‘I-can’t-see-the-bottom-of-the-toilet’ blood.  Yeah...Let’s talk about it…  I was at work the first time it happened.  I was under a shit load of stress - pun intended

I walked back to my desk, probably white as a ghost.  Actually, I’m sure I was because two people asked me what was wrong.  “Nothing, nothing is wrong”.  I remember emailing both my boyfriend (now known as the one and only, 'the hubs') and my mom telling them that I just saw a huge amount of blood and I wasn't talking period stuff.  They both called me within seconds.  Their advice was consistent with each other: CALL THE DOCTOR!  

A few weeks before the “bloody incident” we had moved to a new apartment and I was promoted to much more stressful position at the company I was working with at the time.  Dr. Dummy basically told me that I had ‘strained’ myself and that was ‘normal‘.  Bleeding THAT much is normal?  Maybe I hadn’t relayed to him how much I bled.  Actually, I did.  I told him everything, just short of bringing him to the bathroom with me, which I totally would have done.  The visit itself was a crock of bloody poo.  No blood work, no looking at my bum, no stool sample (o-kay, fine, I was completely stoked about that part).  I knew in my gut that something was wrong.  Again, pun intended.  

I was laid off shortly after that; I was still having symptoms.  The bleeding subsided but the pain did not - something was wrong.  I drove down to Hawthorne and saw the doctor that I grew up seeing.  I didn‘t have insurance, but I wanted a doctor that knew me...I wanted a doctor I could trust.  I loved her, she was such an amazing doctor.  She confirmed that something was indeed wrong, but I needed to have a colonoscopy and advised that I should absolutely wait until I had insurance again.  I got rehired at the same place about 3 months later and soon I had insurance again.  Of course, I put it off for a few (several) months - but I built up enough courage to go to a different doctor near me and ask for a referral.  

I was referred to a cranky, little Indian gastroenterologist.  Very blunt and straight to the point with absolutely no sympathy whatsoever.  When I woke up from the colonoscopy, I was crying from the anesthesia and I see the hubs sitting there with this super sad look on his face.  A look like “I am so sorry”.  I asked the nurse what was going on and she said that she will grab the doctor.  Dr. Cranky came back in, snapped that he had already told me about the ulcerative colitis - but then quietly said that its normal for me not to remember due to the anesthesia.  I tend to like doctors that are straight to the point, but come on, if your patient is scared…show them just a little touch of compassion.  Don’t act like an inconsiderate jack hole that has no time for crying little girls.

Prior to Melanoma, I’m supposed to have a lovely colonoscopy every five years.  As of yesterday, I was 6 and a half years over due.  Anyone that has had one typically doesn’t jump for joy to have one, unless you enjoy pooping like a chicken ALL day and not eating.  That’s why I think it’s funny that they are constantly asking you who you are when you’re a center waiting for your ‘bummer examination‘.  “What’s your name?”; “Can you spell your last name?”; “What’s your date of birth?”; “What procedure are you having?”: “What’s your doctor’s name?”.  Ummm.....Whatd'ya think I did?  Took out the person in the waiting room so I could steal their colonoscopy?  Ha!!   "Bitch, had over your bracelet, I'm taking your colonoscopy!"  Whatever, I guess it’s protocal….a very strange protocol, but I suppose it's effective.  

This morning I had my second colonoscopy.  Now that Melanoma has joined the party, I need to have one every three years.  I don’t know if it’s because of the Colitis, too - or if it’s just because of the cancer, but regardless - I’ve got to get used these crappy surgeries being more frequent than than I was expecting.  They really aren’t bad at all.  It’s the prep that stinks. Hee hee, I'm so punny.  And the waiting for the results - other than that, it’s really super easy.

The last time I had to drink these two super strong saline solution type “drinks”.  They were terrible.  Only about 10 ounces each, but they packed a terrible punch.  Terrible.  Ugh!  And because I had to drink them both at the same time, there was no ‘easing into it’.  There was no testing the water with one foot to see how it is.  Some creep walks by and literally throws your ass into the deep end of the laxative pool.  By the end of that night I was in the bathroom crying.  Not only did I know that something was up with my innards, I am bawling and my husband is in the bathroom with me trying his best to console his broken down wife.  Can you say - awkward?  You can also say, without a doubt - love.  That’s love; I have the best damn husband ever.    

This time was a bit easier. Instead of jumping in, you ease into it.  I got two little ducolax laxative pills to take after my breakfast of homemade egg drop soup.  At 10am you start mixing powdered laxatives with 32oz of clear liquids and then you do the rest at 5pm to finish your 64oz concoction.  By the end of the day, I had taken 16 doses of laxatives.  Whoah.  Luckily the powdered stuff doesn’t have any flavor and you can mix it with water, apple juice, light Gatorade - really anything that is clear and isn’t red or purple.  If you get hungry, you eat some Jell-O or you can have some broth.  Really that’s all that you can have.  At certain parts of the day, I was hungry - but then you get over it.  Most of the day I was nauseous; 64oz of crappy medicated liquid can do that to you.  

When you go through this, try to make your appointment as early as you can get in.  From the lack of calories, you’ll be pretty weak with a possible headache and just downright hungry AND thirsty.  After leaving the center, the hubs and I stopped at Carl’s Jr. and I got myself a western bacon cheeseburger….mmmm…..I think it was delicious.  I hardly remember it.  The nurse said as we were leaving that they shot me up with enough sedatives to knock out a horse.  I’ve got a high tolerance for that stuff apparently.  I don’t remember waking up.  I don’t remember starting to get naked in front of the nurse while attempting to dress myself…I assume that’s when she mentioned the massive sedatives that I was given.  I don’t remember leaving.  I barely remember the doctor telling me that he took two biopsies and that I have a “touch of” diverticulitis which momma has, too.  Remember: excitable tummies apparently run in the family.  I came home and slept like a sedated horse for three and a half hours.

So, I’ve got a week before I can over the results with my GI doctor.  The hard part is over.  I’m sure all is good, I’ve just got another intestinal issue to add the list.  Whatevs!  As long as Melanoma isn't putting it's name on the list for entrance to another part of my body/innards, I'm good to go!

People - be aware of your body.  If something isn't normal, go to the doctor.  Have your annual seen by someone other than yourself.  Be proactive with yourself. 
You're the only YOU that you have

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