Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Post 4: Official diagnosis

Yesterday I had yet another procedure. I welcomed it though because the more opinions I get, the better. I went to Shands again to have and Endoscopic ultrasound and more in depth biopsies done. This procedure is done by using a scope with an ultrasound device on the end so they can see within the intestinal wall. The doctor and nurse were absolutely amazing. I really feel like I am in good hands at Shands. The nurse held my hand the whole time and the doctor explained everything as he was doing the procedure. I chose to do this procedure without sedation so I could look at what was going on, and the doctor could communicate with me what we saw. I won't lie and tell you it wasn't uncomfortable. But you don't feel the biopsies. The main discomfort comes when they puff air inside you to open the intestinal walls. This causes some cramping, but it was not unbearable. Ulcerative colitis symptoms I've had in the past hurt much worse. I kind of wondered how I was not an emotional wreck during the procedure, but bear in mind, I have had almost 5 months to process that I "might have colon cancer." No, it does not make it any easier. But a lot of my crying and the stages of grief you go through, like denial have already passed somewhat. Now I just want to hear it and move forward. It never really gets easier though. Especially when you hear the "C" word. The ultrasound showed it is stage T2 colon cancer. The GOOD news is there are no nodes. (T2-NO) which basically means it has not moved outside of the wall of the colon. This is REALLY good. (Here is a chart that explains stages. It really helped me understand the course of colon cancer a little better) This means as of right now it is contained and has not traveled to my lymph nodes or other organs. I am so grateful. I will meet with my surgeon September 28th to discuss my best treatment options. Surgery is inevitable, but they will decide if I need a full colectomy with a second J-pouch surgery, a partial resection, and they will discuss if chemotherapy is something I need to do.
Yesterday was a lot to take in. I was really overwhelmed and became pretty quiet after the procedure. I think I needed time to let it sink in. I think when it really hit me was when I was sitting in the recovery area. There was an older man sitting in a wheel chair. I guess he just had a routine colonoscopy done and he was still a little groggy from the anesthesia. He was waiting on the nurse to wheel him out to see his family. We joked a bit about how he was about to push the red "exit" button so he could wheel himself out of there and get some lunch. We were both starving since we hadn't eaten for a couple of days. He was a sweet man. He asked me if I was ok and I guess my eyes watered up a bit while I said "yeah, I'm alright." He asked me if I had cancer. I was kind of shocked at how straight forward he was, but I guess he was still a little drunk from his anesthesia wearing off. When I had to tell him yes, It really hit me. I told him to make sure he keeps up those routine colonoscopies. I think his wife made him. I told him how lucky I am to have found it early.
After that I was a bit down in the dumps. It was good to see Phillip again after the procedure. He hugged me in the hallway on our way out and I tried to muster up a happy face so I could walk through the hospital to the car. He gave me a little gift he found in the hospital giftshop while he waited for my procedure to be finished. They were these beautiful owl earrings. I love owls, so he knew it would cheer me up. We made it out to the parking lot ok, but I lost it for a few minutes when we sat in the car. It all just seemed so surreal, like I was making it all up. After a good cry, I was ok and we got some lunch. We were so ready to get home and see our little girl. She was at daycare all day, but we had my mom pick her up.
I really feel like our little girl saved my life. My Ulcerative colitis was doing so well. I really had no symptoms and thought I was in remission. However, the week before she was born I was so sick wich led them to do some tests. Everything worked out it a way for us to discover the cancer early. I was placed as "high risk" because I had a previous miscarriage and because of having UC. If I hadn't been sick right before Elise was born & my doctors didn't take extra precautions because I had a high risk pregnancy, we might not have found this in time. It could have sat there for another year or so and might have spread. Our little girl is a miracle and my angel. Having her saved my life. Even the nurse and doctors during the procedure said "yay for having the baby!" Elise, in combination of having these wonderful doctors, saved my life and I am eternally grateful.

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