“You have cancer”

I noticed when I went to the bathroom that it started feeling a bit different; I did not give it much thought. Then one day I saw a bit of blood. Ugh. Figuring maybe it was an internal hemorrhoid or whatever, I held out knowing I was going to see my internist in a few weeks.

She put in an order for an “urgent” colonoscopy. She said that they label them “urgent” if there are any symptoms.

The lab called about two weeks later to schedule. I asked if insurance covered it and they assured me it did. When I told them I was having insurance issues over the doctor visit, they said I could call the billing department and they would do an insurance check or something. I did that to make sure … The billing department said they would run it by the insurance company and get back to me in a few days. They called back and said that I was not covered and the test would cost me between seven and eight thousand dollars, out of pocket. Screw that. So I waited and tried to figure out what to do.

I still occasionally saw some blood and what-have-you. And then I remembered Dr. Z. His brother was my internist for about 30 years and he was the head of GI in our big city teaching hospital. He did my colonoscopy about 12 years ago, I would see if he was still doctoring. Yes he was, but not seeing patients so to speak, only doing procedures. But his hospital takes my insurance with no issues. I scheduled a test. Ideally, at my age, I should have a test every 10 years or so.

In case you don’t know, a colonoscopy is a procedure where the doctor takes a camera on the end of a long flexible wire/tube/thing (sort of like a selfie stick, but nothing like a selfie stick) (and no, don’t use a selfie stick) and, well, looks inside your colon. Your colon ends at your butt, and that is where the doctor starts. Your colon needs to be clean, and that is the preparation. The night before you either take a couple of pills and drink a lot of water, or some other similar method chosen by your doctor. You then find yourself spending a good amount of time on the toilet if all goes well. For whatever reason, I barely went once. I called the lab in the morning before going and they said to drink some more and come in. Again, minimal results, but ok, easy enough. I took public transportation to the hospital as you must have someone drive you home.

On the gurney, wearing a hospital gown, I got an IV and the doctor comes in. Some pleasantries and then I tell him that over the last few months I passed a bit of blood and it feels like I have internal hemorrhoids. “We will find out” he says, and I am sedated.

As I start to wake up from the sedation Dr. Z. looks at me and says

You have colorectal cancer. It looks to be primary, and you will probably need radiation, surgery and a temporary colostomy. I am sure the biopsy will confirm this. I will get you an appointment with one of our best surgeons.

Still mostly sedated, I did not say much of anything. About twenty minutes later I went to the bathroom to change into my clothes. When I came out, Inanna was waiting to take me home. She said the doctor already told her I had cancer.

It was a very quiet ride home.

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3 thoughts on ““You have cancer”

  1. Well that sucks! At least you are going in to this with a powerful set of tools. You are exceptionally good at gathering information, stubborn – or tenacious if you prefer- and are familiar with all the tricks of dealing with bureaucracy. Add to that a jaundiced view of the world and a sense of humor and you are well prepared. I am delighted to hear about the new addition to your support system you sly fox you. Just remember there is a group out here in the internet world cheering you on. Don’t feel you have to be cheery and upbeat for our sake. We’d think there was something seriously wrong if the male version of Pollyanna showed up.

  2. Fucking hell. I’m sorry.

    I work in cancer care and it’s a full time job having cancer. I’m hoping for the best for you. Take care.

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