Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The Unavoidable

There are many reasons to tell your kid not to be in a rush to grow up. Traffic jams, root canals, tax audits and colonoscopies are just a few good reasons why children should be encouraged to live in the moment. Eventually as we grow older some of these things are just unavoidable.

A colonoscopy is one of those things.

"...all at once the feeling of pain is sharp and full-bodied, with a hint of razor blades. It is like having an errant raccoon with sharpened claws stuffed up ones innards."

I am not all that unfamiliar with the scope, a few years back I had a run in with one before. Several years ago I was experiencing severe gastro-intestinal disorders and the doctors defaulted to the scope to eliminate all possibilities such as Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, or diverticulitus. After suffering a round of torture with the scope I was sent on my way with an invitation to come back in five years. Eight years has elapsed since my last procedure.

Late last fall my mother was having some health issues, she was constantly tired, weak and she had lost some weight. After multiple blood tests the doctors ordered that she get a colonoscopy. The results were not good. They discovered a massive tumor that had ruptured the intestinal wall. She was going to need surgery to remove the mass, and a CT scan to determine if the cancer had spread to any other parts of the body. As a passing comment the doctor performing the colonoscopy had guessed that she had the cancer or growth for about 5 years.

My mom had the surgery, her colon was resected, reattached and she began the regimen of chemotherapy. The biopsy of the tumor was conclusive; she was diagnosed with stage 3 colon cancer. She is on her 5th of week of chemo and so far she has managed to keep all of her hair.

All of this prompted pressure from all of my family to go and get checked out. As it turns out the doctor agreed. As soon as you have a direct relative that has a type of cancer, in this case colon cancer your chances of getting it yourself increase exponentially.

I was given a Speedpass to go to the head of the line for the magical mystery tour.

Needless to say I was scared and nervous. My first scoping several years back did not go so well. I was given enough Versed, a conscious sedative, but not enough of the painkiller Demerol. As a result I suffered excruciating pain but didn’t have the ability to say anything about it. The doctor and driver on the scope was very heavy handed with the scope and was overly generous with the gas that is used to inflate the colon. The result, pure misery. All I can say is that all at once the feeling of pain is sharp and full-bodied, with a hint of razor blades. It is like having an errant raccoon with sharpened claws stuffed up ones innards.

If the procedure is difficult the preparation is no better. You are instructed to not eat any solid foods for a day and you have to clear the plumbing. I had to take 24 doses of laxatives in a 4 hour timeframe. At first you think, “hey this is no problem.” Then you hear the muffled sound of a bed sheet tearing in half in your gut and you have to sprint to the toilet all the time hoping that you don’t explode in the process. You continue this whole routine for the next 10 hours or so.

This time the doctor was much better about the procedure. The attending nurse and anesthesiologist heard my concerns and gave me enough painkillers to take down a water buffalo. I didn’t remember or feel a thing.

It was a good thing I went too. The doctor found a precancerous 10mm polyp near the cecum, the joint where the small intestine joins the colon. He used a hot snare to resect it and sent it to the lab for biopsy. I am still waiting on the results, which should be good, but because they found polyps I get to do this all over again in 3 years.

It beats the alternative.

Please eat your fiber, cancer sucks.


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Dominic said...

Good to take care of it now. Best of luck, Ed!

Leon Guillary said...

You're in my prayers Ed. Nice to see that you are still blogging. I will drop by more often. Good that you are taking care of it now as opposed to waiting.

Ed Flores said...

Glad to see both of you visiting here. Thanks for your concern and care. I'll be okay now!

Jay said...

It does beat the alternatives BUT Here is hoping your results are as good as can be ! Take care of yourself.

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