We've all seen the commercials. Raising awareness and encouraging early detection. We all know someone who has had something scary. Something like cancer, or other heath problems. What would you do, if it happened to you? If you saw a symptom. A warning sign. Would it be too scary to deal with? Would you ignore it and hoped it went away...?
It's hard to talk about. Hard to tell your family. Really hard to tell your friends. It's even hard to tell your Doctor - and that's what they're there for! You don't want anyone to worry....they have enough to worry about already. Surely it's nothing. No reason to cause a fuss.
You're smarter than that though. This isn't normal. It keeps happening. It's not going away on it's own. You're a pretty healthy person - even eating healthy and drinking lots of water....but it's still happening.
So, you tell your husband. And your mom (well, one of them). And they say to go to the Doctor. As if telling them wasn't hard enough, now to have to explain that to the Doctor??!!! Oh well, they hear this stuff all the time, right? Or even worse. (Warning, this is where I probably give too much information - but it's for raising awereness...so here goes) So, here it is....I have blood and mucous in my stools. I don't know why, and it's freaking me out. I'm scared to death.
Ok, made it through telling the doctor. Oh great - now you have to check?? OMG, seriously, how embarrassing can this possibly be?!! Deep breath. This is their job. They do this all the time. It's no big deal, to them. So, they check. Well, nothing visual or sensory that they can detect. It had stopped for about a week, and for the most part, I check out just fine. BUT - if it happens again....
It happened again. It's time. I have to do the Big Scary Procedure. I am only 31 years old, and I have to have a colonoscopy. Isn't that for "old" people? For those men on those commercials? Or for my mother-in-law who we thought had cancer. That's such a scary word. Cancer. Isn't that what colonoscopies are for? To find out if you have cancer...?
I scheduled the appointment. They sounded so casual about it - like they do this every day. No big deal. Well it is a big deal!!! To me it is!!! I'm scared to death here - shaking on the phone, holding back tears! You should probably check with your insurance. You're a little young to be having this procedure, they say. Well, great. I've already told my husband, my co-worker (you kind of have to explain tears...), my mom (one of them), the doctor, the nurse, and the receptionist...and now I have to tell some lady at my insurance company??!! Whatever. Thankfully, we have really good insurance. Really expensive for a small business owner, but really good insurance. It's covered.
Now, to tell the person that I need to have help me. The person I want to have bring me to the Big Scary Procedure. The person who has been through this before, so I know she will understand and be supportive like no other - not even my husband can be. I didn't know how to tell her. For those of you who know me well....really well....you know that sometimes it's easier for me to write it down. Type it out. The words come so much easier - especially through tears, when I can type them instead of speak them. So I emailed my mother-in-law. Right in the middle of the afternoon! I felt bad after I sent it. I thought CRAP, I might have just made her cry right in the middle of her work day... Oh my goodness, how selfish of me... And then it came. The most loving, understanding, supportive reply. Of course she would take me, and be there for me, and pray for me. And it was all going to be ok. I could just feel her hug through the computer screen.
Those are the only people I was planning to tell. I didn't want anyone else to worry. But then sometimes, you just need to tell a close friend. Because she's going to figure out something's wrong....even when you tell her all the other reason's you've just been stressed (and trust me, as busy as I am...there are plenty of other reasons), she'll still wonder what I'm holding back. I didn't tell her at first, and she knew I would when I was ready. So again, the coward that I am....I texted her. She loves me though...and texted right back. She's a prayer warrior, and personally knows lots of other prayer warriors. I needed her to know. I'm glad I told her. I felt better when I told her. Looking back now, I wish I would have told more of my friends....but I guess that's what this post is for.
I tried to be strong. I was really busy - so that helped. I made a valiant effort to be in a good mood - joking about it even - leading up to the preparation and procedure. I only broke down a couple of times, to my husband. I needed to, and he was there for me. I really was so very scared. I was seriously considering chickening out. But the problem hadn't gone away. I had to do this.
I've heard that the prep before the procedure is the worst part. I was definitely not looking forward to that. I was supposed to start at 5pm. Well, I had house showings until 8pm....so I started at 8:15. Drank the stuff, drank the water, put the kids to bed. Well, this isn't so bad. Then it started, at about 10:15. Being stuck on the toilet is no fun - no matter whether you're "sick" or not... I thought it would last all night long. It didn't. I only had to get up once. At 2am. But then I had to drink the "stuff" again at 6:30am. Oh. My. Goodness... I have showings starting at 10am!! I knew I shouldn't have scheduled them - but I couldn't say no!! Thankfully, when you haven't eaten for 1.5 days, there's not much left inside you. So, I made it through. It really wasn't that bad at all.
Then came the drive to Salina. My mother-in-law drove. She chatted all the way. I'm sure she could tell I was nervous. So we get there, all checked in, back in the room (or should I say "curtain"). "You can keep your top on." Great. "You have to drop your pants though." Obviously. They start the IV. Well, at least I'll be unconscious. "You won't be unconscious - but don't worry, you won't remember a thing." Seriously!!!! I won't be unconscious??!! You're going to do this while I'm awake??!!! O.M.G. So, they wheel me back to the procedure room. I meet the Dr. She seems nice enough. She rattles off my symptoms. They really don't sound any less awkward when she says them (to me anyway, but she's used to it). Lay on your side. O.M.G....I'm pretty sure I'm going to remember ALL of this! Then they put the medicine in the IV in my arm. Then the sleepy medicine. I remember looking at the screen....
And then I was talking to the nurse back in the recovery room, with my mother-in-law. And I was apparently asking the same questions I had been repeatedly asking for several minutes.... Ok, so maybe I don't remember. Any of it. (Thank God!)
So, I'm sure you want the good news.....I don't have cancer. Again - THANK GOD! I do, however, have something wrong. It wasn't nothing. I have inflammation in my colon. They had to take a biopsy to be able to determine what kind of medication I need to take to fix the problem. They don't know what caused it. But it can be fixed. And for that, I am very, very thankful. I'm thankful it wasn't cancer. I'm thankful it wasn't "nothing." I'm thankful I didn't ignore it. And, and scary as it was in my MIND...it really wasn't that bad of a Big, Scary Procedure.
Maybe not everyone has such a difficult time with this stuff. I'm a little shy. Kind of a prude. But I am smart enough to know that you can't just ignore it when something is wrong. It will not go away by itself. Sometimes you need help. From your family, your friends, your doctor. I owed it to my family to make sure that I was healthy. I'm too busy to be sick! I could not be selfish and hide my little secret from them. And I'm choosing not to hide it from all my other family and friends as well. I agree with the commercials. If you have blood in your stools - you HAVE to have a colonoscopy. They said I caught it very early. The inflammation would have continued all the way up my colon. It would have continued to get worse if I would have ignored it.
So, consider this your public service announcement. A personal account, from someone you know. It's still a little embarrassing. Please don't ask me about my poop in public! Ha! I don't know what kind of medicine I have to take yet, or for how long. But, I'll keep you updated. Until then, thank you for reading. And please, don't be afraid to tell your family or friends when you are having a problem. Any kind of problem. And be encouraging to them as well. You need each others prayers and support. I'm so very thankful for mine.