Not Dying of Embarrassment 

I know this is way too much information, but it’s an important topic, so I’m going to share anyway.

Five years ago, I went to a gastroenterologist because I was having alternating diarrhea and constipation,  and was almost always suffering from abdominal pain or discomfort of some sort.  In addition, I was experiencing quite a bit of bleeding.  

The doctor I went to see decided that I was probably fine – after all, I was 28 years old – but agreed to send me for a colonoscopy anyway, more or less just to humour me, because I kept insisting that something wasn’t right.  He was also retiring, and sent me to another specialist to do the procedure.  The new specialist took me a little more seriously, although he also seemed to think there was probably nothing to worry about.
I had a sedative for the procedure, but was still conscious through the whole thing, and watched it on the screen in front of me (bizarre, but interesting).  There was an intern being trained at the time, and I heard the nurse behind me say “Oh, see that?  That could be cancer.”  I kept quiet, but I heard what was being said.  After the procedure,  the doctor came back in and told me about the polyp.  He told me not to worry, that it was being sent for biopsy but would be completely benign.  Two weeks later he called me back into his office.  What had been removed was not cancer, but it was pre-cancerous.  I was going to have to go back in every 5 years to make sure that nothing came back, but there was a good chance it was a one-time thing.

Today was my 5 year colonoscopy.  They put me right out this time (I like to think they started doing that after one too many big-mouthed comments in the OR), and the specialist came to see me while I was recovering.  

Two more.  

Bigger than the last one.  

They’ve been sent for biopsy, but he is 99.9% sure they’re the same as the last one – and probably not cancer yet.  I now have to go back every 3 years, assuming these were only pre-cancerous.

If you know there’s something wrong, please go get it looked at.  And if a doctor suggests a colonoscopy,  get it.  It may not be pleasant (actually, the only real issue was the prep – the day before is pretty miserable), but the alternative is a lot worse.

Also, talk to your family.  Find out the medical histories.  I know people often don’t like to discuss certain things, but for 5 years I have been telling doctors that I have no family history – and I found out tonight that my dad has them too.  He just never mentioned it.

I’m terrified – I could have cancer.  But the good news? If I do, it’s very early stages.  If I hadn’t advocated for myself 5 years ago, I would almost definitely have cancer now – and it wouldn’t be early.

Listen to your body.  Sometimes it’s telling you something very important.

Okay, sorry guys – that’s my PSA for today.  

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