Thursday, November 19, 2009


Regarding my persistent pain, it feels as if I’ve undergone a battery of tests this week, when, in actuality, I’ve only had a couple.

I saw my OB/GYN on Monday, but the appointment was for my previously scheduled annual exam — nothing new, nothing serious. I mentioned the CT scan I’d just had done and gave him a copy of the report. He felt as sure as I did that the “mass” on my right ovary was merely a developing follicle. “I just saw your ovary with my own eyes not four months ago,” he said, but he agreed it would be prudent to follow-up with a sonogram in three weeks. He said if my cycle resumes within the next couple of weeks, our theories would have been true.

Today, I had an endoscopy and colonoscopy done. I was really quite nervous about this test — not because of any potential findings, but rather just because of the humiliation factor. I am really self-conscious about two things: my feet and my bowel habits. The risk of anesthesia and the potential pain of the procedure, those things were of no concern to me, but to know that a room full of strangers was about to intimately acquaint themselves with my bowels and their business was deeply embarrassing.

I stuck close to home on yesterday to complete the bowel prep regimen — a half-gallon of Gatorade mixed with two weeks worth of laxative solution. The mixture had to be consumed in total within a two-hour period as 8 ounce portions every ten to fifteen minutes. That regimen coupled with a clear liquid fast for twenty-four hours made for an interesting afternoon. The clear liquid fast was followed by an absolute fast from midnight until the time of the procedure. I realized while I was fasting that I have a real tendency to eat absent-mindedly. I more than one time had to focus on the process of fasting to keep myself from putting something into my mouth. It was a challenging day, to say the least!

We decided the easiest way to manage the day was to have Gracie spend the night with a neighbor and to have me drive myself to the surgery center. James took the day off work to help take care of the kids and to transport me home from the procedure. Everything for Bub and Bryssa was prepped and ready to go to make his day that much easier. I left the house at 5:30 A.M., checked in at 6:15, and began the procedure around 7:30 A.M. I was the youngest patient in the building.

The doctor was very young and very handsome, which made me feel that much more phobic. But he was also professional, very experienced, and had a superb bedside manner. Though he felt hopeful we wouldn’t find anything during the exam, he reassured me regarding the fact that I was having the right tests done for the pain I was describing. He explained I could be dealing with any number of things and that these tests were a good place to start figuring things out. “Better safe than sorry,” he stated.

An I.V. was inserted and I was wheeled to the surgery suite. My questions about post-op breastfeeding were answered and a bite guard was inserted in my mouth and strapped around my head. My bracelet information was confirmed and the anesthesiologist wished me a nice nap. I wondered if someone might ask me to count down from ten, then I felt my eyes roll a bit as I drifted away.

Murmuring. A hand-off report: polyp, left side. Bright lights. Recovery.

The doctor explained my endoscopy was clear. He took some tissue samples from the lining of my stomach. Maybe I had a bacterial infection. Maybe that’s why I’ve been having pain. Overall, though, that portion of the exam was unremarkable and I shouldn’t expect an answer from it.

As for the colonoscopy, he found a polyp — a single “pre-cancerous” polyp, large in size per his description, a real surprise to say the least. He said if I would have waited until I was fifty years old to have my first colonoscopy (which is common protocol), I would have most certainly ended up with colon cancer. The doctor seemed almost giddy that he found that polyp, but he seemed genuinely happy to tell me that he got the entire thing out. He said he’s seen more cases of colon cancer in people too young to have it. He said he diagnosed two more cases just this month. The polyp has gone to the lab to be biopsied, but he assured me at this point I have nothing to be concerned about. I do, however, have to have a colonoscopy done now once every five years and am to be aware of and report immediately any change of habits or symptoms.

When I asked him if this polyp was the cause of my pain, he said it wasn’t. He said even though it was a significant find, the polyp was not the cause of my pain. Finding it when we did was merely a bonus. In general, polyps aren’t known to cause pain, but regardless of pain potential, this polyp was in the lower portion of my abdomen while the pain I’m experiencing is in the upper portion of my abdomen. My colon was clear in the area where I feel pain. He went on to say what I may be dealing with could be something as simple (and as challenging to manage) as Irritable Bowel Syndrome. He said that was often the diagnosis they attach to non-specific abdominal pain, that the disorder can present with variation in bowel habits or merely as abdominal pain, but I don't know -- that seems like a cop-out to me. He offered a daily medication to assist with pain and symptom management, but when I reminded him that I’m nursing, he suggested I avoid medication. At this point, nothing more than a dietary change is in order: a high fiber diet to both combat what may or may not be IBS and to reduce my risk for cancer.


  • joykay

    First off, let me say how much I've enjoyed catching up on your life and reminiscing about the times you lived here in Tulsa. I'm so thrilled for you and your family and all God has blessed you with.

    I, too, have had a recent colonoscopy, so I can relate with your story. I was having pain, passing blood and 5 months pregnant. The cleanse was miserable. Ulcerative proctitus was my diagnoses...did they talk to you about any of that by chance?

  • taralynn819

    I'm so happy you are still writing, even if you never transferred these last few posts over here. I know you relate to how so very helpful and for some of us necessary it is to process especially the tough stuff "on paper".

    I pray that all of this was planned by God so that the doctors could find that polyp (and a very real opportunity to experience that sweet mercy), and that all you ever have to deal with is IBS and nothing more!

    I will have to start scheduling routine colonoscopies very soon myself.

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