Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Public Service Announcement

Warning: Really icky medical stuff discussed.

About a year ago last May, I started getting a pain deep in my right lower belly. It’d show up for a couple of hours and then disappear. It would be gone for a few months, then start up again.

Then it started happening more frequently and lasting longer. But there was never any discernible pattern to the cycles of pain. It seemed completely random. Whenever I pointed it out, the first response I’d get was, “Sounds like an ovarian cyst.”

My primary doc said, “Get thee unto a gynecologist.”

So one night at work, I told one of the OB/GYN docs about it and asked if she’d look at it for me. No, not right then, for Pete’s sake. I made a real appointment and everything.

And I sashayed myself off to her office to have it checked out. Hmmmm. She doesn’t find anything. Perhaps a pelvic ultrasound will clear things up.


Ultrasound shows something on the left, probably a small fibroid.

And the hunt continues.

OB/GYN said, “Get thee unto a gastroenterologist.”

Tons o’ fun.

Off to the nurse recommended GI doc (this is how nurses pick out doctors, we ask the nurses who work with the docs who has the best outcomes). He says, hmm. To the CT scan you go.

CT scan. Okay, let’s just talk about them for a moment. I properly chugged my half liters of barium, including the one in the scanning room. I helped the guy find the best vein in my arm. “Are you in the medical field?” he asks me. “Yes, how did you guess?” I reply. “You said there was a good one in the AC. Only medical people say AC.” (AC = antecubital = elbow)

I’m having an abdominal scan and after I get on the narrow little table, he asks if I have any metal in my pants. Well, yes, I’m wearing jeans. No, I don’t have to take them off, just push them down to my knees (I have a sheet covering me). Then the scan begins. They inject a dye which I am told will cause a warm, flushed sensation. Which it does. Starts around my throat and goes up to my face, down through the body, arms, legs, then fades away. Well most of it faded away. It lingered quite a while in my….ah…girl parts.

So I’m laying on this bed, shoved into a metal tube, my jeans pushed down to my knees, with my hoo-haw on fire. And the soothing, bland pre-recorded male voice is giving me instructions. “You are about to hold your breath. Breath in deeply. Hold your breath. You may now breath normally”. Something to that effect and I sort of don’t remember because I was fighting back a monumental case of the giggles at the time and I didn’t want to explain to the two tech guys why I couldn’t stop laughing.

The test showed that I had a small cyst, most likely a fibroid on the left.

Which led me to the dreaded colonoscopy. I won’t go into details except to say that it wasn’t as bad as I feared. Sure it wasn’t the most fun way to spend a couple of days (day one prep, day two procedure, day three recoup), but it was better than having your fingernails pulled out one by one.

The procedure itself, or the entire rest of the day afterwards I can’t tell you anything about because my doc loaded me up with some rocking drugs. Fentanyl and Demerol I believe.

And at last to my point. He found a large polyp. And removed it. And he told Jason (because I was tripping off in Strawberry Fields) that it would have been “worrisome” in a few years.

When he called me with the pathology results, it was an adenoma with high grade dysplasia, which means it was a polyp with a lot of pre-cancerous cells. A lot, he said. I must get my siblings in for testing if they have not already done so. He said if I had waited until I turned 50 (or never which was my original plan) I most likely would have had colon cancer.

Twenty percent of people with colon cancer have no family history of any type of polyps or cancer. As women, we are so conditioned to thinking breast/ovarian cancer that we forget (or ignore) that we are subject to the same risks for other types of cancer. While I would never in a million years skip my yearly Pap smear and mammogram, I was quite willing to skip the recommended screening for colon cancer.

I have to have another one in six months to make sure he got it all.

And now, having another colonoscopy doesn’t seem that bad. Much better than having cancer.

I’ve learned my lesson. Anything the doc tells me to have scanned, x-rayed or scoped, I’ll be there.

Especially if I can have more Fentanyl.

Loki sez: Um. We've decided you can never take us to the vet again.


Pat said...

Wow! It's a good thing you were having some pain, hm? I'm glad "they" finally figured out what was wrong...even if you did have to suffer through a colonoscopy. Damn, I hate the prep for those things - but I think now they give you pills instead of the mag citrate?

Anonymous said...

Glad you "caught" everthing early...God Bless, Pam, South Bend

Marcheline said...

The best bit was the part about you in the CT scan with your "hoo haw on fire" - I almost fell out of my chair laughing. If that had been me, I would have been screaming laughter, tears in my ears, and if the techs had asked any questions, it would only have gotten worse from there. How in hell did you keep a straight face???

- M

joan said...

What a good thing you went for the testing. Someone needs to make me do it. I told them to just kidnap me and they laughed.