This is not my usual type of post, but one that comes from an experience that hit very (almost too close) to home today. The subject matter is uncomfortable to talk about, but I feel utterly compelled to share my story in hopes of saving someone's life (plus, I promised the doctor, and right now, I'd give that man my first born child if I hadn't already married him off).
Today, I dodged a bullet, and did so by the skin of my teeth. Whatever Being watches overs authors and fools -- or in this case a two-fer -- has my unending gratitude.
In the wee morning hours on Easter Sunday, I began to bleed heavily from the rectum (I know, I know...the irony of being a gay erotic romance writer was not lost on me). so much so that my husband rushed me to the hospital.
I was given a CAT scan, and scheduled for a colonoscopy this morning. In the mean time, they diagnosed me with diverticulitis. My blood count dropped from 12 to 8, so I was given a transfusion of two pints (there is a special place in my heart for people who donate blood. I do, but this was the first time I've ever had to be on the receiving end). I was also given a regimen of antibiotics, kept hydrated, and put on a liquid diet.
Today, I was taken in for the colonoscopy. My friends, I'd been putting having this simple test off. I don't know why. Everything else seemed too important. I figured it could wait. I was almost dead wrong.
The doctor not only confirmed the diverticulitis, but he discovered a huge polyp nearly blocking my intestines. Had it not begun bleeding, and if I'd waited any longer to have the colonoscopy, it would've grown to block my intestines causing all sorts of horrible havoc.
Oh, yeah. And it was cancerous.
Thankfully, the doctor was able to cut it out and entirely remove the cancer, but that was only by luck. You see, there are two sorts of polyps -- one that grows like a tumor attached to the colon, and one that grows to look something like a punching bag. It was only by chance that I had the latter, which enabled the doctor to tie it off and remove the whole thing.
I don't need chemotherapy or radiation, and in that I am again, extremely lucky. Had I waited any longer, the prognosis would probably not have been so favorable. I'll have a follow-up visit in two weeks, then another colonoscopy in a year. If that one is clean, I can go to five years before having it done again.
But the fact remains that I came horrifying close to catching a bullet, so close that I could feel it parting my hair, and it was my own damned fault. If I hadn't put off having a colonoscopy because it was distasteful, or embarrassing, or too much trouble, or not important enough because things like that only happen to other people, or whatever stupid-ass reason I gave myself, the polyp would probably have been caught before it became cancerous, and I wouldn't have jeopardized my life in the process.
This story probably sounds familiar, the sort of tale that always happens to a friend of a friend of a friend, which puts it almost in the same category as urban legend, and easily dismissed or ignored. But most of you reading this know me, or at least, know of me. If knowing someone it's happened to will convince even one person to have the test done, then baring my medical soul on the Internet was worth the loss of privacy. Please, please, please, don't put off having the test done. It's completely painless, I promise you. I wouldn't lie about that. It takes all of ten minutes (again, no lie), and it can save your life.
It saved mine.
For more information on colonoscopies and colon cancer, visit the Colon Cancer Foundation.
As a side note, I was also diagnosed with a gall stone, and arthritis in my spine, both of which I'll take no questions asked over the cancer.