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Posts Tagged ‘colonoscopy’

PET Scan

Sorry for the delay in getting the news out about last week’s PET Scan. I only received the results myself just a few moments ago:

Drum roll please:  PICTURE PERFECT PET SCAN!  Ta Da!

That unidentified area in my sacrum that showed up in the CT Scan (prompting the need for the PET Scan) did not light up in the PET, so no malignancy. The thinking is still that it’s some scar tissue left over from radiation and surgery.

I also just learned that I won’t have any more tests (other than bloodwork) for a year. Then I’ll go back for a CT Scan (no need for a PET unless something shows up on the CT). And, my oncological team confirmed that I do not need another colonoscopy for three years since this one came out so beautifully! Hooray!

All that I’m to do now is continue to see Dr. Fekrazad for quarterly office visits to review bloodwork, and to see Dr. Brown quarterly for follow-up on my surgery. I am still seeing a Physical Therapist regularly for the urinary issues, but hope to have even that under “control” very soon, too!

So, it’s all good!

Once again, thank you, thank you, thank you to every one of you who had a hand in bringing me back to health on this year-long journey through your many:

♥ thoughts

♥ prayers

♥ positive intentions

♥ cards

♥ email messages

♥ phone calls

♥ blog comments

♥ visits

♥ hand-holding

♥ errand running

♥ prescription pick-up

♥ food preparation

♥ driving to/sitting through appointments

♥ traveling from far and wide

♥ holding the space while I was in surgery

♥ caring for me in the days following surgery

♥ and many, many other gifts given in the name of love.

Thank you. I am humbled and eternally grateful.

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On Monday I had the dreaded colonoscopy. In case you don’t want to read all the following details, I’m just going to go ahead and give y’all the “bottom line” (no pun in this case!): The results were perfect. No polyps, no nothing. Just a healthy colon. Thank God!

When I called to schedule the colonoscopy, I asked if there was a specific gastroenterologist at The Endoscopy Center who did the procedure on patients with a colostomy. They told me all of their doctors had experience doing them with colostomy patients. Dr. Hoverson, who discovered my tumor during my first colonoscopy in June 2009, had been very compassionate with me then, so I asked for him. Unfortunately, the only time slot he had was at 2:30 PM.  Having been through the awful cleaning-out process several times last year, I knew an afternoon appointment would not be fun – I’d be starving and dehydrated and grouchy if I had to wait until 2:30. But, my desire to have a doctor I felt comfortable with outweighed my desire to have an early appointment so I agreed to the 2:30 time slot.

Before I hung up, I somehow thought to ask if the prep was the same for colostomy patients. The woman I spoke with said it was, but she would ask Dr. Hoverson if I could have the “Half-Lytely” solution instead of the full “Go-Lytely” prep. When my paperwork and prescription arrived in the mail a few days later I was happy to see they were prescribing the “Half-Lytely” (half as much to drink!).

So, after breakfast on Sunday morning, nothing but clear liquids for the rest of the day. In the afternoon I took the pills that come with the Half-Lytely, then began drinking the solution in the evening. I’m sorry, but that stuff is vile! I’d drink eight ounces as quickly as I could, then set the timer for 10 minutes. It felt more like 2 minutes when the timer would go off and I’d have to drink 8 more ounces. After a while you just can’t get the stuff down very quickly so the 10 minute intervals begin to feel like about 30 seconds.

I was also naive enough to think that since I had an ostomy bag, I wouldn’t necessarily have to run to the bathroom every few moments. Duh! The bag would fill up in a matter of seconds and I’d have to empty it quickly before the next round! It got to where no sooner would I get the bag emptied, clean the pouch up, and wash my hands – before the bag was full again! Of course it was also rapidly becoming liquid, which my ostomy pouch is not really designed for. Emptying it soon became a very, very messy affair. One unfortunate incident occurred when the contents of the bag spurted out all over the place in the bathroom: on the floor, on the little bath rug, on the outside of the toilet, on my clothes, on my thighs and hands – everywhere! If it hadn’t been so disgusting, it might have been hilarious to witness me trying desperately to clean everything up while also trying to keep the bag from spilling “liquid stool” all over again – all the while stripping off my soiled clothes and trying not to pass out from the stench!

I was also pretty alarmed by how much was coming out of me. It seemed like it would never stop. I was reminded of Dave Barry’s comment in his wildly funny column on having a colonoscopy: “And then, when you figure you must be totally empty, you have to drink another liter of … prep, at which point, as far as I can tell, your bowels travel into the future and start eliminating food that you have not even eaten yet.”

The whole thing seems rather inhumane. Of course, somehow I survived. On Monday morning I could still have clear liquids until 8:30 AM, but then nothing – not even water – until after the procedure. I had a cup of tea and took my last sip at 8:31. It was a long, long time until 2:30.

Carol created this wonderful flagstone walkway in my front yard while she's been staying with me!

My friend Carol, who’s been staying at my house for a few days while she waits to move into her new casita on Oct. 1st, agreed to be my “driver” for the appointment. (They will not do the procedure if you don’t have a “driver” waiting there for you during the entire appointment). I came up with some errands for us to do just to get us out of the house and occupied instead of sitting around waiting. We finished up the errands and still had almost an hour before we needed to be at The Endoscopy Center. It occurred to me that there was a labyrinth nearby at the Museum of International Folk Art, so we headed up to Museum Hill and walked the labyrinth together. It had the wonderful effect of calming me down just in time for my appointment.

The procedure itself went very quickly. They sedated me well enough that I don’t remember a thing. I awoke and it was done. I got the good news from Dr. Hoverson that all was healthy. He even said I didn’t need to have another colonoscopy for three years! (Dr. Fekrazad may want me to do it annually anyway, but it was nice to hear that Dr. Hoverson thought I could wait even longer.) I got dressed and Carol helped me to the car – I was still groggy and my legs were a little rubbery – but I was clear enough to know I wanted something to eat!

We went to Pranzo and had a wonderful Italian meal of bruschetta, caprese salad, and risotto with shitake mushrooms and asparagus. Okay, we also had just a little wine (even though I read a notice before my appointment that said I probably shouldn’t have any alcohol for 24 hours if I was sedated for the procedure). We were home by 6:30 and I was sound asleep before 7:00 PM.

So, that was it. The dreaded colonoscopy!

Next up: a PET Scan on Wednesday, October 6.

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Shame on me for not posting anything in August! It was such a monumental month for me in 2009, but – happily – August 2010 was uneventful, at least health-wise.

The best part of the whole month was spending five glorious days in Ouray, Colorado with five beautiful women who’ve been like sisters to me (we all worked together at Kindred Spirit in Key West and have since scattered ourselves around the country). All of us have not been together at the same time for more than three years, so it was quite a reunion! It was also the first time I’ve been away from home since before I was diagnosed last summer. So, as you might have guessed, the trip was very healing for me – mentally, emotionally, and spiritually, if not physically (considering the quantities of beer, wine, Margaritas and Bloody Mary’s that were ingested).

The Kindred Spirit Goddesses - Karen G., Carol, Michelle, Karen H. and Kelly - in front of Michelle's adorable little shop "The Blue Pear" on Main Street, Ouray, Colorado

Now that more than a year has passed since my diagnosis, it’s time to start having a bunch of annual tests done to make sure I’m continuing to be cancer-free. The first is a CT Scan, scheduled for Tuesday, September 7.  I had blood drawn today at Christus/St. Vincent Hospital in preparation for next week’s scan.Getting more blood work done...

Then, on Monday, September 27, I’ll have a colonoscopy. I’m a little nervous about it since it will be the first one since my colostomy. They’ll perform the exam by going in through my stoma – which doesn’t seem like it would be all that bad, but it’s still kinda scary since I have yet to put anything in there! Plus, if you’ve ever done the prep for a colonoscopy, you know how, uh, explosive it can be. I’m not exactly looking forward to that new experience with my colostomy either!

After those two tests are complete, I’ll see my oncologist Dr. Fekrazad again to go over the results. In the meantime, I have an appointment on Friday with my surgeon, Dr. Brown, who checks me out every three months – whether I need it or not!

The only other “medical” thing going on is that I’m now seeing a physical therapist who is working with me on the urinary incontinence issues that have developed as a result of the radiation, chemo & surgery. Heather is an amazing therapist who is using bio-feedback techniques together with exercises in our sessions. I’m reluctant to admit that I haven’t been doing my “homework” as often as I should (she’s given me specific exercises to do daily at home), so I haven’t seen the results that I know are possible. I guess I’ve gotten a bit self-indulgent after a fairly challenging year, and I let myself off the hook occasionally.

But, all-in-all, things are good. I’m gardening, practicing yoga, working, creating, eating & drinking. What more could I ask?

I’ll keep you posted on the results of the tests as soon as I have them.

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Exactly one year ago I went in for a colonoscopy. That morning I had heard the news about Farrah Fawcett’s death from anal cancer. I’d been having some bleeding episodes, which was one of the reasons I was having a colonoscopy. While being prepped for the procedure, I nervously mentioned Farrah Fawcett to the doctor. He briefly told me that anal cancer was something quite different from colon cancer – that it was more like a skin cancer. He smiled and assured me I didn’t have it.

Next, I was in a small, curtained cubicle, still drowsy and recovering from the procedure when the doctor came in – no longer smiling. He told me they’d discovered a “villous adenoma” tumor in my rectum. He said he didn’t know if it was cancerous, but he believed if it wasn’t already malignant it would be soon. I was advised to see a surgeon…

Fast-forward to yesterday. I took my mother to the same Endoscopy Center for her colonoscopy. As they prepped her for the procedure, I looked around and realized I was in the exact same room where a year ago I’d been given the news about my tumor. It was rather surreal to stand there as they were taking Mom’s vital signs and inserting an I.V., all the while my mind was going back over all that has taken place since I was there last.

As they wheeled Mom away, I felt a little dizzy. I went back out to the waiting room and tried to read. Forty-five minutes later they called me back to the recovery area where Mom was just waking up. The doctor came to tell her that everything looked good, she’d had only a few tiny polyps, they didn’t expect anything other than a good report from pathology…Of course I sat there listening and was grateful for her results, yet I couldn’t help but also entertain a vivid memory of a very different discussion a year ago. Being in that little curtained cubicle again brought up a lot of unexpected emotions for me.

I got Mom home and settled. We had a small meal together and, when I felt sure she’d be okay alone, I left to drive home. It was raining. We’ve been waiting weeks for it to rain here, so it might have been a joyful moment. But I found myself feeling strangely sad.

Over the next few weeks I’ll have a series of “anniversaries” (the biopsy, being diagnosed, starting chemo and radiation…). I’m so truly grateful to be in good health again – really I am – and yet I’m wondering how best to navigate this season of “a year ago this” and “a year ago that.” I want to acknowledge and honor what I’ve been through, but I don’t need to wallow in it either. I think my experience yesterday at the Endoscopy Center was a small reminder: although I’m very happy to be alive and well, there’s still some emotional terrain ahead.

ArtfulShe Booth at the Artisan's Market

So you won’t think I’m spending all my time wallowing in the past, here are some pics of my recent exploits at the local arts and crafts markets. My booth was sure busy on Sunday at the Artisan’s Market.

It's all happenin' at ArtfulShe!

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