Yesterday was good medical news. I am so grateful and relieved.
I had my colonoscopy, which revealed no polyps. That’s the reason I had to repeat this test after only four months-it was supposed to be three. March’s exam revealed four large intestinal polyps, which Dr. Gidday removed.
Because they were large there were two most likely scenarios. One) the polyps were large because they had been inside me longer than thought. Two) I had some kind of aggressive cancer brewing. The biopsies on the four polyps he removed were benign, but that was no guarantee there wasn’t a nastiness afoot. At my follow up appointment with the ARNP a few weeks later, I asked, “Is there a correlation between size of polyps and onset of cancer?” He replied without hesitation, “Yes.” I’ve been on pins and needles since April.
Yesterday, there was nothing to biopsy. I would have cried if I hadn’t been so stoned on anesthesia. I did learn that I have diverticulosis (my body was psychic back in February) and that it was mild. He also found non-protruding hemorrhoids. No shock there. I went through a painful bought of the protruding kind in my mid-twenties due, no doubt to waiting tables for a living.
I’ll take it. All of it. In Dr. Gidday’s words, “No polyps. No cancer.”
Whew! Have I really turned a corner on these damn health issues?
I am hesitant to let myself believe that. I was so psyched about getting my new knee in December of 2019. For eight years I knew I would need that surgery. I felt that 2020 was going to be THE year. I was going to get back into an exercise routine and drop the extra pounds. I’ve never been this big, yet, comparatively, I’m not huge.
I returned to work on March 12, 2020. On March 17 the country was shut down by the Coronavirus, which later became COVID-19, in scientific and journalistic parlance.
So much for exercising. I was working at Walmart, as a cashier. None of us knew what was going to happen. Everything was closing. Were we closing? Staying open? Shortening store hours? How are we going to pay our bills?
In the end, the company shortened hours. I think at first we closed at 8 pm. When the world started settling into the pandemic groove and after we became classed as, “essential workers,” along with emergency healthcare workers and first responders, Walmart went to a 10 pm closing time. That store still isn’t back to its 24-hour schedule, but it’s open to 11 pm now.
I am convinced that the stress of working during this pandemic hastened any brewing medical issues I had. It was damn scary ringing up customers knowing any one of them could give me the Coronavirus. It was especially scary before the company installed plexiglass shields and started the mask mandates for employees. I know I wasn’t the only terrified employee. Call outs mushroomed. The anxiety was torturing us, even as we remained stoic and tried to put on our happy faces.
Pushing forward to now. This year has even been more stressful than 2020. I gained three doctors; I’m up to seven. I’ve had a polyp removed from my uterus, learned I had pre-cancerous cells on my vulva, been on anti-anxiety meds since January, longer than any other time of my life. I’m still monitoring the vascular condition I had diagnosed last summer. Thankfully, that is stabilizing. And at my most recent oncology appointment, my OBGYN said that the abnormal cells on my vulva are clearing up nicely. There is one stubborn spot, so surgery is still a slight possibility.
My uterus turned out to be cancer-free, but I have an ultrasound scheduled to happen in a few weeks. I think it will be ok. It’s just to monitor and make sure everything is still good. In June I learned I have another squamous cell carcinoma. This is a small spot on my upper left back, close to my shoulder. It’s my third skin cancer spot. It’s getting cut out on August 2nd. The very first skin cancer diagnosis was the first time I ever had to face definitely having any form of cancer and it was frightening. After, what I’ve gone through lately, if I’m going to have cancer anywhere, I’ll take the skin kind I have now. It is way less scary than the other medical problems I’ve endured this year.
Today, I took off. In March, with my first ever colonoscopy, I returned to work the next day. I regretted not taking the next day off. This time I requested three days off. I’m glad I did. Since the procedure my entire abdomen is throbbing slightly. It’s as if my intestines are asking, “Whoa! Dude, what was up with the torture via cable? That was NOT cool.” I guess, in my head, my gut is a stoner. I just got off the phone with a friend who agreed with the throbbing gut sensation.
The diverticulosis-diverticulitis is the name for when the condition gets inflamed or infected-is kind of a blessing. I think I’ve been having slight inflammation there I’m lucky because it can get super horribly nasty and painful. I had a bit of a wake up call.
It’s interesting that the first time in 33 years that I left a work shift for the ER was because I felt like I might have diverticulitis. The CT scan I had at AdventHealth said, “Nope.” My intestines looked good. That began the female issue journey. Five months later I found out I have the underlying condition of diverticulosis. It’s almost funny
With yesterday’s results, I finally feel as if I turned the right corner. I’m cautiously happy. I feel as though I’m soon going to have my energy back and the motivation to do some happy Feng shui on my home and attract happier energy. Because, I seriously want and desperately need a better home situation.
The diet improvements I will be making are long overdue. I’ve always been a healthy eater. Always lots of fiber. My mom used to stress that in the 70’s before it was a thing. I love almost every vegetable or fruit known to humankind. Before my finances crashed in 2007, my diet was excellent. I once had a doctor tell me I almost had too much folate in my blood. “I love salads and orange juice,” I told her. Unfortunately, our capitalistic system encourages us to buy less healthy food. So, my diet has suffered a little. It’s time to improve this. I’m psyched for it. Anyone not on this train with me will be left at the station. No apologies.
I return to work at 8:30 am tomorrow and for once, I am not COMPLETELY dreading it. Before yesterday, I knew work was going to be painful to my gut. Now, I know it probably will be painful but, it will be less stressful because I know what is going on.
Knowledge is so empowering.