Friday, March 15, 2013

"If you don't mind me asking...."

     Hi, do I know you?! It's been awhile, right? I can't believe it's been almost 2 years since I've been around these parts of town, but it has & writing on this blog has been on my mind for quite some time. At first, it was completely unintentional - I was healing from an extremely invasive 8 & 1/2 hour surgery (a surgery that would forever change my life in more ways than ever expected , fathomed, or wished upon my worst enemy) which then lead to an intentional avoidance - but we will get to all that in due time.
      March is "officially" Colorectal Awareness Month, so I thought what better time to drop off my emotional baggage & start getting back to living (& sharing) my 3rd chance at life in this crazy world. You see, there are 2 things I am extremely passionate about (not counting my enthusiastic love for all things Dawson's Creek) and that is writing & doing, to the best of my ability, everything & anything that I can do to make others aware of Rectal Cancer, especially early detection & prevention for those of ANY AGE
     By faaaaaaaar the most asked question I have been asked over the past 3 years has been "if you don't mind me asking, how did you find out?" So to answer that question, this DeLorean is heading back to late-2009. Let's Go Doc. ;)
      There isn't an exact moment that I can pinpoint when I started experiencing cancer "symptoms", most likely because I didn't necessarily know that they were actual symptoms. It started as nothing out of the ordinary; like every other person, I would have occasion constipation, but more often than not, my constipation would last more than just a few days and would, eventually, no longer be occasional. My first "DIY" was an over-the-counter fiber-supplement to hopefully give my body what I thought it was obviously lacking. It didn't exactly give me the "outcome" I had expected - instead of ridding me of my constipation, I started experiencing another aggravating issue: bloating in my abdomen. At first, it seemed innocent enough; as women we like to use the word "bloating" when we're not feeling in our peak physical shape, but this was legit bloating.

At the time, I weighed around 105lbs so it was very-much noticeable, so much in fact that I started to wonder if there was a chance I could be pregnant. That scenario was very quickly ruled out so after some time, I decided to move on to my next DIY solution: a little cocktail called "Magnesium Citrate". In actuality, MC is a saline-based, liquid laxative used to treat occasional! I read the back of the bottle & it suggested drinking half the bottle, followed by 8 ounces of water. "Amateurs" I thought as I drank the entire bottle (it was lemon-flavored, which for me was a bonus - for others?...probably not-so-much). MC soon became my go-to-guy; I was still coaching a local high school dance team which was good pay but offered no insurance benefits, so an actual doctor visit was financially out of the question. Doctor WWW soon became my primary care physician.
     After a while, the magic of magnesium citrate lost it's luster & I was back where I began, except now I was starting to feel a dull ache in my tailbone. At first, the pain would come & go but I was quick to brush it off as simply overstretching & overworking myself at practice with my girls. At some point around the same time period I started experimenting with Miralax and soon MC was out and MX was in. It seemed to do the trick, so it became part of my nightly routine.
     In December 2009, it was time for my annual "female check-up", without insurance the only plausible option was a free health clinic. I had mentioned to the DR at the clinic about the problems I had been having and that my most recent symptom was a little blood in my stool. She said that what I was experiencing wasn't a big issue at 25yrsold & told me to just continue with the Miralax "if I wanted". Awesome advice.
     Over the next couple months my symptoms began to progress as did the amount of blood; it went from a little here & there to more & more in abundance & occurrence.  According to Dr. WWW, all of my symptoms were common in conjunction with internal hemorrhoids. It made sense, IH are actually very common in dancers. I was satisfied and actually pretty proud of my self-diagnosis, however reality was about to smack me upside the head & literally become a pain in my butt.
     Around March 2010, I began having the worst pain I had ever experienced in my life in my inner -right "buttock" (who we'll call "Righty" for referral purposes) - a sharp, stabbing pain so severe I could barely sit, stand, or sleep without cringing from excruciating pain. I will NEVER forget the next thing I am going to describe: on one particular evening I was having so much pain that I spent most of the night laying on my side on the bathroom floor. All of a sudden I felt like I was being stabbed with a butcher knife in my tailbone; the sensation instantly traveled down to Righty & began to burn like acid was inside my body. I struggled to pull myself up off the floor while tears streamed down my tired face. I remember tasting the fibers from a towel that I had rolled up to bite down on so I wouldn't scream out in pain. The next thing I remember is looking down at the toilet & seeing a full crimson pool of blood....I remember closing my eyes & opening them again because I couldn't believe what I was seeing. For the first time I was no longer frustrated, I was scared to death...I was CERTAIN this HAD to be the WORST case of internal hemorrhoids ever experienced by a human being! 
     The very-near future would show me just how wrong I was, how wrong a licensed doctor was, and how different my life was about to be forever changed.

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