Health Update – The Colonoscopy and More
Here’s the tl;dr – I had my no-anesthetic/no-painkiller colonoscopy. We weren’t able to complete it, but did get about halfway, and it revealed issues I’ll have to deal with, which is going to mean meeting with a lot of doctors over the next few weeks. It’s serious, but we remain hopefully it can all get handled.
For the longer version, CW – blood, cancer, pain, polyps, and poop.
I had assumed my rectal bleeding was unrelated to my pulmonary embolism. Looks like I was wrong.
The prep period for this was difficult because I already tired easily, and going through hours and hours of cramps and body-emptying trips to the restroom was leaving me so shuttering exhausted I had trouble even standing. But I got through it, and got in to the colonoscopy today.
The first half hurt, but was manageable, But there was a point past which the pain was enough to make me unable to breathe, and see sheets of blinding white. Also, my heartrate and blood-pressure kept spiking at that point, soo the doctor and I agreed that was as far as we could go.
However, in the section we could check, I had two polyps the doctor described as “very large, very suspicious.” They could not be removed under those circumstances, but the doctor did get material for biopsy. That said the bigger one was bleeding, and “clearly undergoing changes.” We can’t say they are cancerous until the biopsy comes back, but the GI doctor is convinced the larger of the two is definitely cancerous.
In any case, they have to go.
First, of course, they either are or soon will be, cancer. But, secondly, the gastroenterologist said their size and definition mean they are very likely to be responsible for instigating my blood clots. If we don’t remove them, I run the risk of more and more clots, another embolism, stroke, and so on.
He also noted that these are things that have been around for years. Certainly if I had gotten a colonoscopy at 50, they’d have been visible already. (I cut myself slack due to the pandemic, but still.) And there’s a good chance that if I had gotten one at 45, we’d have seen them then. (When I was 45 the recommendation was still 50… and by the time I was 50, the pandemic was in full swing. I made a call to wait, and it was the wrong call.)
The doctors confirm to me that the fatigue, lack of focus, listlessness, and even brain fog I have been suffering in increasing severity since 2017 are in all probability the symptoms pf the polyps, and the blood clots they’ve been creating. I have been seriously ill for 6 or more years, slowing down, losing jobs, having trouble meeting my own expectations, and we couldn’t ever figure out why.
Well, now we know.
And let me be clear, knowing is huge. No matter how I tried to eat better, exercise more, take more antidepressants, for six years my life has been a slow-and-apparently-inevitable slide into disability. I have been disappointed in myself again and again over the past several years, because no matter how hard I tried, I could not work in the level of volume, quality, or even enthusiasm I expected. My life felt over, and part of my depression was seeing that things always got worse, and my life was losing it’s value to me.
Well, fuck that. I have literally seen the enemy now. I have a cause, and can focus on eliminating it, and recovering. There’s is a fight I can get into, and win my life back.
So, this process is going to go as fast as it can, but that’s still a matter of weeks rather than hours or days. Surgical removal is an urgent necessity… and complicated. I must be on blood thinners for the pulmonary embolism, and I still need supplemental oxygen when I sleep or exert myself. Those factors put the risk of me dying under general anesthesia at around 10%, even for something minor like a colonoscopy, much less surgery. But if the polyps are, as expected, cancerous, we need to get them while they are still stage 1 (assume we haven’t missed that already), so we can’t wait.
There are options, and I will be seeing a cardiologist, hematologist, and oncologist over the next few weeks, as well as my primary care physician. The hospital staff all agreed we’d have to “get creative,” but we can do that. We’ll gather all the info we can, consult, form a course of treatment, and carry forward.
This is, obviously, going to be tiring, time-consuming, and expensive. But my life is on the line, so I’ll handle each of those hurdles as necessary.
And I’ll try to keep everyone posted.
Methods of Support
So, a lot of people have offered a lot of support, and I deeply, deeply appreciate it. There are plans moving forward to try to help cover medical bills and loss of income, and when they’re ready, I’ll announce them here. I may end up needing to turn to extraordinary measures, such as a GoFundMe, but I won’t be doing that until I know for certain I have to.
However, if you DO want to offer immediate support, I won’t refuse it. You can join or increase your membership tier at my Patreon, or if you prefer do one-time support through my Ko-Fi.
Posted on March 8, 2023, in Health, Retrospective and tagged Essays, Mental Health, Pulmonary Embolism. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.
Leave a comment