Brush

So many times in this life we stand at a crossroads and years later, can trace the consequences of the direction we chose back to the present day. I had a choice to have a colonoscopy, or to not have one, based on a vague change in bowel habits that persisted for a few years. Despite my fears, I decided to do it. I might have saved my own life by making that choice. Of the two polyps that were found and removed, the largest one,  5mm, was pre-malignant.  Standard screening age is 50. I’m 37.

To say I am spinning out over this would be a massive understatement. I found out the day before I left for a great vacation. The pathology was released to me, at my request, through the EMR. No interpretation or recommendation came with it. The official channel is to send a letter through the U.S. mail two-three weeks after the procedure. I emphasized this because, to be blunt, it’s a thoughtless and outdated practice. I told my GI this, after letting her know it was released to me in this fashion and she implied it was my fault for asking it to be posted to the EMR.  I had to google “sessile serrated adenoma.”

The recommendation is for a colonoscopy every three years. I want genetic testing, and I want it now.  No more surprises.  There are huge holes in the family history. I don’t even know my paternal grandmother’s name, let alone her medical history. My so-called “mother” doesn’t believe in getting medical care, so she’s a useless source of medical history.

Speaking of my “mother,” I never told her I was having this done after she told me not to do it. So I told her after the fact and about the pre-cancer. Then she made a terrible joke about it. I am truly Nobody’s Daughter. I have no one to go to for comfort. It’s a terrible feeling.

Of course my thoughts turn to Dr. Overinvolved at a time like this, but thinking I can go to him for comfort is just a myth my brain likes to run with based on that tiny moment in  time. There are hundreds of me’s and just one of him; he wouldn’t help me in the present, or even remember me.

A few months ago I felt a lump in my left breast. I have not seen a doctor about it. I keep thinking it’s going to go away, but it’s still there and I don’t feel anything like it on the right side.

My vigilance and commitment to my self-preservation is laughable, really.  There’s not a lot of enjoyment in my life. There’s no love, no sense of purpose. No one needs me. In addition to being nobody’s daughter, I am no one’s mom, no one’s wife, no one’s girlfriend, no one’s mistress…  No matter what I do, something will get me, like it does all of us, eventually. Why get in the way of nature? That is honestly how I feel right now. I am invisible and irrelevant.

I was much happier last week when I was on the road. I followed a band I love, and have loved for twenty-five years, to every show they did for a week. It was glorious. Each day, I would find my way to the next city, sometimes I drove, sometimes I wandered airport terminals, then I would check in to my hotel and go to the show. That’s all I had to do. It made me happy. Very little does, which was why I chose to do it.

Advertisements

The Patient With PTSD Finally Has a Colonoscopy

After months of waiting, months of thinking “I could just cancel it,” months of occasional overwhelming anxiety, I finally had the colonoscopy this week.  I was up front with all of the staff about my anesthesia incident and they were excellent. I spoke with the anesthesiologist beforehand as well.  I had no problems at all; they only gave me propofol and it was lights out. When I came out, however, I was crying and gasping for air. Not sure why?  I wasn’t afraid though. Obviously this wasn’t general anesthesia but  it was night and day compared to the absolute terror I felt that day and it underscored the fact that it was terror I felt.  I had no nightmares when I slept after the procedure either.

The downside is that my GI removed a couple of polyps. Now, I am in my 30s. This is Not Normal. They were both small and one so small it is extremely unlikely to be malignant. The other one is a mystery. It may or may not be malignant so now, it’s the waiting (cue Tom Petty). This also makes me really glad I went through with it. I will surely have to do it again well before I am 50 (the age when screening starts for those with normal risk in the United States) based on the discovery of polyps alone, but how soon depends on the pathology report. How urgent my demands for genetic testing will be also depend on this result.

Now I think I have a small base of trust and a good experience to build on for future procedures and/or surgeries, which seem inevitable given that I have a body that seems to be much older at the cellular level than my chronological years betray. I can only hope that maybe it will help with some of my other physician trust issues and propensity to cry and/or become extremely irritable when I have medical encounters.

Trauma Everlasting

If I were to draw my medical trauma, there would be three lines. One representing the cancer diagnosis, another for the medical error, and the last for my relationship with Dr. Overinvolved.  They would only be parallel for a short while before twisting into each other like a strand of DNA, becoming one spiral.  I find myself tangled up in this spiral again as I stare down the eve of my colonoscopy.  I am not hopeful that any of it will go well. I am expecting the sky to fall again and am bracing myself for the crash.

I baked cookies earlier for a friend of mine who is having a cancer scare of her own. I also had a rare flashback while standing in the middle of the kitchen, red spatula in hand. I stopped dead in my tracks. Dr. Overinvolved was standing at the sink and washing his hands, talking to me over his shoulder, looking back at me and saying, “There’s a 10% chance you have thyroid cancer” and it was the first time he had ever said  the word cancer to me and I remember at the time feeling shock and disassociating at its utterance. I was sitting on the table in that exam room, he was to my right. It was like I was right there again. I could hear his voice, feel that shock.  The baking stoppage was very brief as I immediately recognized it for what it was- a flashback -and quickly pulled myself out of it. This wasn’t the first sign of triggering. I had a medical nightmare a few nights ago, also a very rare occurrence these days. It was general- just an examination room and a table with one of those huge OR lights over it. That was enough and I forced myself awake, breathing hard.

I am on a low residue diet now, and as a veteran of the LID, even being on a medically restricted diet is bringing me back to when I had RAI treatment- how hungry I was, another surreal and inappropriate go around with Dr. Overinvolved, leaving radiology sobbing after being scanned multiple times for reasons that they refused to explain to me. Dr. Overinvolved being mean and dismissive when I told him about this and how I subsequently felt crazy.

There’s just so much to avoid that being triggered is a guarantee. None of this surprises me at all. It happens, it briefly takes me down, but then I get up, smooth my skirt, and keep going. There’s no other option.