Thursday, May 31, 2007

A Personal Glimpse at Mortality

When does that childhood belief in personal immortality end? When do we stop believing we are invincible?

When we’re young, we believe we can’t be hurt. We do stupid things – we ride our bikes in traffic; we jump off of roofs; we step out between two parked cars; we cross the street without looking both ways.

Even though our parents warned us not to.

As we get older, we take different chances. We drive over the speed limit or force a long yellow light.

Or ride motorcycles.

We go out in the sun without proper protection. We eat undercooked meat and have unprotected, premarital sex without a second thought.

And even when we come face to face with death, we rarely blink. We curse, we cry, but how often do we alter our behavior?

P.Pie’s father’s passing was a terrible dose of reality. And Doss’s passing was a cruel slap in the face.

But neither of those incidents made me think of my own mortality. In the last ten days, that’s changed.

[ed. note: it gets a little gross here, continue at your own risk]

Recently, I had noticed some blood in my stool. Since I have a history colon cancer in my family, I was immediately concerned. So I made an appointment with my regular doctor.
[ed. note: that’s actually saying a lot. I hate going to the doctor and will put it off until I’m almost blind from pain.]

After a short but uncomfortable examine, Dr. Nose proclaimed that the bleeding was NOT from hemorrhoids. I would need a colonoscopy for a *ahem* closer look.

My initial thought was that the colonoscopy would be the worst part of it. It wasn’t. As it turns out, these days they give you a valium/morphine blend which the call ‘conscious sedation.’ Great high and you don’t remember any of the unpleasant parts.

No, the worst part was the gallon of colyte they make you drink to clean you out. Basically it tastes like a glass of water that had a handful of pennies soaking in it. Actually, it tastes like 15 eight ounce glasses of water, each with a handful of pennies in it. Really, really, awful.

But I did it and it’s a good thing I did.

The bleeding was indeed caused by a polyp in my descending colon.

When my father was 44, he had colon cancer – a quarter-sized polyp that they took out with part of his colon. I’m 38 and my polyp is the size of a softball.

Due to its size, the doctor did not want take it out immediately with out knowing its cancer status. So they took a biopsy and sent it off to be tested. If it came back cancerous or strongly pre-cancerous, they would want to cut me open and take out part of my guts with the polyp.

If it was non-cancerous or super-early pre-cancerous, they would take it out the same way they found it. While the idea of that sounds less than fun, it’s better than being cut on; if they cut me open, I’ll be in the hospital for 7-10 days.

The other way is an outpatient event.

I got the results back Wednesday. While it’s a monstrous size, it’s in the super-early pre-cancerous stage. They won’t have to operate.

Of course, this is only the halfway mark; once they get it out, they will do more tests on the polyp and if they see anything that looks dangerous, they will re-evaluate the course of action. That can mean opening me up anyway to remove some of my colon, or potentially some chemo.

As you might imagine, I’ve been a little stressed out. Thankfully, P.Pie and the Squeaker have been uber-positive and buoyed my spirits.

The great biopsy news helped, too.


Blogger ETownDZ said...

Wow. I'm so glad you caught it, and I'm SO glad the biopsy results were encouraging. I'll be sending tons and tons of non-cancerous thoughts your way. You're right... mortality is a hell of a thing to suddenly face.

6/01/2007 5:31 AM  
Blogger p said...

Few things are worse than having to sit there thinking and worrying while they go run their tests. Of course it's no fun that you have surgery coming up, but it's such great news that it's not cancer.

Best luck with the rest of it. It'll feel soooo good when it's done and they come back with positive results saying the stuff they took out was nothing awful.

6/01/2007 6:38 AM  
Blogger geenalyn said...

good for you for making yourself go to the doctor and for the positive results. I hope that when they do remove it outpatiently that you continue to receive good'll be in my thoughts.

6/01/2007 7:10 AM  
Blogger Rachel said...

Geez, how scary! My grandfather had to have the surgery to have some removed a few years ago and it was rough. I'm glad the biopsy came back good and hopefully there will be no surgery for you!

6/01/2007 7:47 AM  
Anonymous Mike said...

Thank God you paid attention and made the doctor appointment and are getting it taken care of very early. I'll be sending all my positive mojo to you.

6/01/2007 9:20 AM  
Blogger Ash said...

Sending good thoughts your colon's way.

At least hospital food doesn't suck as much as it used to.

6/01/2007 9:22 AM  
Blogger A.P. said...

I just wanted to de-lurk to say I'm glad your biopsy results were "good" and kudos for going to the doctor in the first place. Finding out is usually the hardest part and a lot of people put it off until it's too late. Good luck!

6/01/2007 11:51 AM  
Anonymous Kaz said...

Holy crap (no pun intended), dude!

Our thoughts are with you...

6/01/2007 1:07 PM  
Blogger Poppy said...

Sorry to hear you're going through so much...but happy to hear encouraging biopsy news.

I just recently went through mammogram, ultrasound, biopsy and removal of a suspicious spot in my breast. Thankfully it turned out to be nothing bad. But it sure does make you stressed to the max.

I'll be sending good thoughts your way!

6/01/2007 9:50 PM  
Blogger Kila said...

Good for you for going to the doctor and taking care of things. Stay positive!

Use this as a wake up call to update things and make plans, which everyone should do anyway, because there's no guarantee that any of us will be here tomorrow, but don't think of yourself as having an fewer days than you did before seeing the blood. It's just a bump in the road; keep viewing that road as going on for a long, long time.

6/02/2007 9:01 AM  
Blogger Matthew said...

Wow. So glad you went to the doctor.

Hang in there dude!

6/03/2007 10:10 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Good for you for getting it checked out. Some men want to turn a blind eye... in your case early discovery means a lot! I will be thinking of you as you go through this next stage! WOW!

6/04/2007 12:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sending good thoughts your way.
Thank you for sharing this with the internets. Hopefully, it will help someone else to be less bashful about having something like this checked out. My dear mother in law was; by the time she had things checked out, her colon cancer had progressed to the point that they did virtually nothing to treat it; just make her comfortable. My husband was 12 years old, his mother was only 34. No one expects a seemingly healthy young mom to die of colon cancer; and that is just why she waited so long to have it checked out.
Let us hope that your sharing gets people to have themselves checked out.

6/04/2007 12:47 AM  
Blogger radioactive girl said...

My mom has been having colonoscopys for years and she always has tons of precancerous polyps. This year, she had 40 precancerous polyps that had grown in less than one year. She will be having part of her intestines taken out to prevent them from coming back. That sure makes me question my own mortality...somehow even more than my own cancer did.

I will keep you in my thoughts!

6/04/2007 8:45 AM  
Blogger Lainey-Paney said...

Super glad that you guys caught it so early.

I'm tellin' ya...when it rains, it pours. I'm sure there have been moments in the recent past where you've just thought: how much more can we possibly take?

Your family continues to be in my prayers!

6/04/2007 8:59 AM  
Blogger The Holmes said...

Glad to hear the news on this was good. You're in my thoughts and prayers.

6/04/2007 11:11 AM  
Blogger CroutonBoy said...

Wow, that's frightening. I still consider myself invincible, but that story came close to giving me a bit of a shiver. I'll never look at my stool the same way again.

Glad to hear you got the answer you wanted (if not the "psyche! we're only kidding" answer) and I hope everything goes well.

6/04/2007 12:35 PM  
Blogger Librarina said...

Kudos to you for going to the doctor... You are in our thoughts and prayers...

6/04/2007 6:53 PM  
Blogger Sudiegirl said...

question - i assume the surgery would be to remove part of the colon, right? If not, how are they going to get the polyp out? doesn't that involve surgery?

i'm snoopy, i guess - my 2nd husband's dad had colon cancer and he was like you - didn't go to the doctor until he absolutely HAD to.

hang in there, mah friend!

6/05/2007 6:11 AM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

Holy moly. Glad you went straight to the doctor. Sending lots of positive energy your way. Jennifer

6/05/2007 12:11 PM  
Blogger Kelly said...

My mother was diagnosed with Stage IIIb colon cancer late 2005, a colonoscopy a few years earlier would have saved her a lot. I had some rectal bleeding in early 2007, and immediately thought the worst. Colononscopy is such a necessary procedure, and it can totally be a life-saving one.

You're doing a total service getting this out there. I think people really tend to ignore abdominal issues, attributing other causes. Any blood, any change in stool, any sudden constipation, needs to be evaluated by a gastro.

Yeah, the prep is awful, but you're right: the procedure itself, thanks to some awesome drugs, is nothing at all.

(Okay, getting off the soapbox now...sorry.)

Glad to hear you avoided the cancer, and hope all the tests come back in the most positive way possible.

6/07/2007 9:41 AM  
Anonymous L.A. Daddy said...

Glad the biopsy news was good. But please don't hesitate to go to the doctor. As you can see, it's a good thing you did.

No one ever said, "Gee, I'm so mad and upset that I went!" Even if nothing is wrong, at least you know.

Hug that baby extra tight!

6/13/2007 12:11 PM  

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