I have learnt two things in the past 24 hours. 1) Life can change suddenly. It can leave you feeling completely disorientated, like you have wandered through the wrong door and now you are somewhere frightening, feeling completely alone. 2) People are kind and even in the darkest of moments their kindness will remind you of how lucky you are.
Living A Nightmare
Last night I had a nightmare. We were all on the beach. My friends and family were all having a lovely time eating and dancing in the sunshine. I then realised that a voracious storm was approaching, that the waves were becoming bigger and threatening to wash us all away. I was screaming at them to get to safety but they couldn’t hear me. I was running around trying to get them to leave the beach but they were ignoring me. I then realised that I was in a bubble and before I knew it the sea swept me and the bubble away. I was dragged out to sea and I watched as my family got smaller and smaller on the horizon, until I couldn’t see them anymore. Then I was alone.
I’m no therapist but it doesn’t take a genius to work out my fears. That nightmare probably sums up how I am feeling right now. I am petrified. I am scared of the unknown. However, I can’t let myself feel scared. I need to be strong for Mr C, the girls, my parents, my brother, family and friends. I have to get through this, there is no other option.
Not How I Imagined My Thursday Would Be
Yesterday I went in for my colonoscopy (try saying that word really fast). I had a suspicion that it wasn’t going to be “good” news. The previous Thursday I had been to see the consultant after I had been urgently referred by the doctor. The consultant had asked me to drop my pants. I had made inappropriate jokes like – “I’ve only just met you”, he probably gets told that joke all the time but I like to think that he was blown away by my comedic genius. Anyway, it turned out he wanted to look into my bowel with a camera. I wasn’t expecting that and it was with some trepidation that I found myself on an examining table, my tights and knickers discarded on the floor, being asked to bend my legs a little higher. As he got to work I carried on cracking the jokes, muttering away about how this wasn’t how I expected I would be spending my Thursday afternoon, and how it wasn’t a very dignified position. I was half-expecting him to tell me that it was piles. However, one look at his face (once my knickers and tights were back on) and I could see that something had shifted. He was no longer as jovial.
It seemed that he was clearly alarmed by what he had seen as he asked me what I was doing the very next day. Again, I made a joke (always with the jokes) about him asking me out for a date. Will I ever learn? It turns out he wanted a better camera to look at my less than brilliant bowel. I knew from the way he was speaking and the sudden urgency that it probably wasn’t going to be good news. However, in the end the Friday appointment had to be cancelled as they couldn’t fit me in. That’s how I found myself in hospital on Tuesday.
Just after 12:30pm on Tuesday, I found myself in the theatre staring at the screen that showed my bowel. I had gone for the lowest possible sedation so that I would be wide awake, so that I could eyeball whatever was lurking in my bowel. There she was, Phyllis Polyp or PP for short. She was huge, bleeding and ugly. In my mind, and I have probably not remembered this right, the room fell silent. Previously I had been pissed off at the surgeon’s taste in music. Queen was playing in the background and Mr C had been nagging me all week about watching the film and now it had fecking followed me into the theatre. However, now there was silence that felt so oppressive I didn’t know what to do. I could hear the blood rushing in my ears. Had the surgeon paused the music because now Queen didn’t seem quite right? I mean, even I knew that this was a less than happy moment. Had the music stopped in awe at Phyllis? A more apt tune would have been the title music from Jaws. Again, I chose my moment to say something entirely stupid- “hmm, that doesn’t look good”. No shit (pun intended) Sherlock. The surgeon informed me that they couldn’t get the camera any further because it was blocking my colon. Stupid Phyllis. The surgeon then reeled off lots of things, bowel surgery was mentioned, MRI, stoma. I told him that I needed him to write everything down. That I needed to see it in writing, black and white.
How Everything Changed
10 minutes later and I had been wheeled back to Mr C. In those 10 minutes my whole life had changed. Just ten minutes. What can we do in ten minutes? Not a lot. Boil the kettle, microwave some rice, have a shower. But there is a lot we can’t do in ten minutes. It takes me longer to dry my hair, put my make-up on, do the school run, you get the picture. It didn’t seem fitting that it had only taken ten minutes for my whole life to be turned upside down.
The surgeon then came back with a nurse and they delivered the news. He handed me the letter where, in writing, I saw the words “suspicious polyp”. I already knew that she was hardly a healthy one. She looked vile, I could see that for myself. I asked the surgeon, the words rapidly falling out of my mouth. “Do you think it’s cancerous?” He took a very slight pause and then replied that “the likelihood is that it is”. The room stilled. The nurse looked at me sympathetically and I gulped for air. Outside I could hear the world going on as normal and for a fleeting moment I felt angry. How dare everyone be going on as normal. I had just been delivered devastating news. But that’s life. It’s not always fair, it doesn’t always make sense. In the UK 42,000 people are diagnosed with bowel cancer every year. I really hope that I am not about to join that statistic but it doesn’t look promising. However, I have hope. There is always hope.
Tomorrow I go for an MRI scan so that they can see exactly what is going on and then the next hurdle will be bowel surgery.
There Is Always Hope
Until then I will keep on plodding, I will keep on moving forward. It’s scary but I feel very lucky to have such supportive family and friends. Even in the bleakest of times there is always hope. Quite frankly this is the worst possible time. I had made real progress with my novel. I’ve written 3 chapters now! I have a holiday booked, I was planning on taking part in a run. Phyllis is already doing my head in and it’s time for Phyllis to piss off.
If you have any symptoms that I talk about in this IBS post please don’t delay, get yourself to the doctors quickly. Don’t wait like I did.