Putting the ME in EndoMEtriosis-Part 1

I was really touched when I asked myself to be a guest writer on Erin’s blog to talk about her surgery.  I know that this Endo journey has been a really personal one for her and I was really excited at the opportunity to be able to show her how much it affected me and that it wasn’t just all about her.  And especially since she slept through the whole actual surgery part, I could add details that she wasn’t privy to.  For those who were expecting Erin’s usual lyrical posts, I apologize.  She will be back after she has regained her strength and figured out how to reset her password.

I hate hospitals.  Hate with a capital h and a ridiculous amount of emphasis on the “HHHH” sound so people know I’m serious.   They are terrifying places full of pain and crazy, unnatural things that we do to our body, and ghosts, and bad food and sterile smells.  Now with that being said, I LOVE the medical profession and everything that goes along with it-it’s a weird dichotomy, I get it.  I want to touch everything and ask a million questions and ask each nurse what the craziest thing they ever found in a patient was.  So seeing one of my bestest friends in one of these places was a conflicting event.

We all arrived at the ol’ Slicery early in the morning on Tuesday-530am to be exact.  She won the prize of being the first patient of the day.  Sadly the prize was being cut open from hilt to tilt so I was glad that I wasn’t entered in this contest.  Her surgery was scheduled to start at 730am so we started to wait.  It wasn’t a terrible little party with her mom and dad and Rodrigo.  We made small talk and chatted about how her dad got his start in construction by designing the male mannequins at a shoe store called Tootsies (not a true story) and used every possible second to not think about why we were there.  Right then, we just happened to be 5 people hanging out while one of us was in an extremely revealing and ill-fitting gown.

When it was finally game time, they wheeled her back and we followed in what was the worst parade ever.  We paused at the door to give hugs and last minute words of encouragement and she slipped away.  Watching her go and feeling utterly helpless (remember this is about me and my pain you jerk) I did the only thing that I knew would help the situation: I cried, like a lady.  I have seen enough episodes of Gray’s Anatomy and ER to know two things: 1. I could totally order a write up of lab tests and make it sound authentic and 2. These moments were always pivotal.   Now granted, no one else is at this point is crying, so now her mom things I’m a little bit nuts.  But I quickly got control of myself, made a bargain with God (I heard he responds to those first) and headed to the waiting room.

If you haven’t ever been in a surgery waiting room, you are missing out my friend! First off, most surgeries are multiple hours long.  Unlike Gray’s Anatomy, these parties don’t end in 45 mins, yet for some reason each hospital tends to forget that and just orders a few dozen chairs from the Worst Chair and Backache store and sticks them all in like a badly organized corral.  Thank goodness there is a TV stuck on the local channel.  What else could I want to focus on while wondering if my loved one is splayed open on an operating table but the latest poolside fashions from whatever random morning show still employs.

After 5 or 6 hours, you start to band together with your brothers and sisters of this surgical purgatory and relish in the shared sense of camaraderie.  We hear family stories, ignore snoring, celebrate when a good news call comes in and–what?  They just called for family of Erin Parker?  See ya suckers-we’re out!

We had received minimal updates during the day on her condition, and talked briefly to the colon rectal surgeon.  I only mention that because of how fun it is to say ‘colon rectal’ and I rarely get to do it without being swatted for being inappropriate.  When we were finally sprung from jail, we got to meet the man of the 6 hours: Dr. Mengal, Surgical Badass and Endo Destroyer.  He was incredible and spent a good 40 mins explaining all about what they did, how the Endo had affected Erin and her womb (gross) and more about her reproductive organs than I honestly ever thought I would know.  Hell, after talking to him I wanted to have it done!  He was so engaged and clearly in love with the work that he was doing that I couldn’t have been happier it was he that filleted my friend for all those hours.

For anyone that doesn’t know how Endo works (like me), its pretty incredible.  I mean, I’m not even mad-I’m impressed.  90% of women have blood that leaks back into them after their cycle (so gross) but only 15% of women lack some magical enzyme in their pelvis to fight it.  If we (like how I include myself in this too?) could find out what enzyme that is…then we can make a pill and all this would be over.  Which actually, I call bullshit.  Have you seen the size of a SIM card lately and all the data it holds?  Did you know that they can make a popsicle that is three different flavors on one stick?  The world is full of these modern miracles and a bunch of top-notch doctors can’t locate ONE enzyme?  I can apply filters to a digital picture that I took with my smart phone and post them to a virtual social infrastructure documenting a moment in time with NO physical evidence and we can’t find that little jerkface?  Thanks Obama.

Captain Cuts-A-Lot also explained that he ruled this surgery and kicked Endo’s ass.  He walked in, nodded to his partners, went all Batman on her and saved her ovary with 50% functionality, got all the rest of the Endo bastards out of there, and then went “DONE.”  Scalpel drop. He’s out. There were sections of organs that were actually being wrapped up by the Endo, and once they removed it her entire gut sack relaxed.  Erin’s colon was one of them-it was originally thought that they would have to slice and dice her poop shoot to get it all out but once they removed the mass, it just accordioned back to where it should be.  I imagine that it made a sound like a sad trombone as it went.  Or a slide whistle.  I see it happening both ways in my head. Beeeeoooowoop!

I didn’t stay to see her wake up. I figured that having 3 people hovering over her would be enough and they wouldn’t be paying attention to me at all, so what was the point?  Don’t worry, I checked on her the next day and that is where our story will continue.

Love and Hugs,
Marissa

Posted in Endometriosis, My Life | 3 Comments

Laparotomy Prep

Well, we’re finally here folks. Tomorrow is the big day, so this will be my last post for a bit while I focus on recovery. I can’t believe I have already spent half of 2014 focused entirely on this endo, and there still is at least 2-3 more months to go. Blerg.

But I shall emerge a beautiful butterfly, free of endo AND a colon with her very own room! No more sharesies with my uterus.

Yesterday was clear liquid diet day. I also went to see Chef, which is a fantastic movie but sucks when you’re fasting. So, circumstances permitting…I recommend it. Because of that movie I CANNOT stop thinking about Cuban sandwiches. I’m obsessed. I walked out of the theater and immediately yelped where to find the best ones in Houston, so I can go in 2 months. Then I started looking up French cooking classes. Which led to seeing which restaurant serves the best osso buco. Then I started getting sad. I never want to do this again. Never never never.

Today I have continued the clear liquid diet and bonus!…I started my bowel prep at 5pm. It tastes like mouthfuls of Galveston water.  WHORE-IBLE. Currently it’s 9:30pm and I’m working the second bottle into my system. It does not get better the second time around.

moviprep

I put a coke can next to the bottle so you can use it as a scale. So much liquid.

I’ve already given Deb’s cell number out to people but if you don’t have it and you’re interested in updates, you can email me and I’ll send it to you.

I’m so excited about tomorrow!! I feel like this is the final summit to climb!!!! A little nervous, sure, but mostly just so freaking ready for a brand new life.

Details:

Women’s Hospital of Texas
Arrive at hospital at 5:30am, surgery scheduled for 7:30am, will be 5-6 hours
Will stay in hospital 3-4 nights depending on how I’m doing
6-8 week recovery time

Since I started these endo posts, my support network has exploded and I’ve been lucky to speak with women who have already gone through exactly what I will tomorrow. I’m worried mostly about the pain in the few days after surgery and one friend said “Yeah it sucks, but it’s nothing worse than what you’ve already been through with your endo pain.” I got this. AND I get a Dilaudid pump. Heyoooh!

Gather round children, gather round. Here are some lessons I’ve learned:

Self-love: During the past 6 months I have felt defective as a woman, lousy at being a human in general, ugly, unlovable, broken, and unworthy. These have been some dark times indeed. But…wow! What a unique opportunity for me to learn to love myself at an entirely new level. This gave me a chance to give MYSELF the love and support and gentleness that I crave at my absolute worst. I was able to show myself that even at my lowest, I am worthy of love. It’s been such a surprising and remarkable turn of events. The more love I give to myself, the more I see love and support exploding so much around me that there is excess I will never be able to absorb. I feel so grounded knowing I am worthy of it all – even at my ugliest. I’ve developed an appreciation for myself I never had before. Despite the tornado that my life has become, I’ve never felt more peaceful. This I did not expect.

Patience: I was pretty patient before, but this endo has stretched me farther than I ever wanted to go.  I’ve had to let go of pre-conceived time frames that I was hell-bent on sticking to – like thinking this whole process would take 2 months, tops, or the whole rising early vs. waking up late thing that I talked about in my last post. All of this has required so much patience with MYSELF, and letting my body go at the pace it needs to instead of my mind getting all bossy and telling my body to cut this shit out. I’m learning to listen to my body and slow down when it asks, even if I want to keep plowing ahead. I’m learning what foods my body can handle and what it can’t. I’m sleeping at bizarre hours because that’s when my body says to. All of those things have required unlimited patience, acceptance, and surrender. And it is HARD, y’all. It is really hard. I practice this daily. I have to remind myself to listen and slow down and pay attention. Because it’s so easy to ignore warning signs and get caught up in whatever we get caught up in. That sentence sucked. Whatever. I haven’t had food in two days. I’m just trying to say it’s hard.

Okay guys, imona get back to drinking mouthfuls of ocean water. Don’t be jel. I’ll also be taking along Judith, my uterus (a gift from Melissa). She’ll be making sure everything’s in order at the hospital and that the nurse gets my vein on the first try. Else she will do the punching with her long fallopian arms. Pow! Pow!

judith

Catch you on the flip side!

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Point/Counterpoint with Marissa and Erin

gchat today:

Marissa:  Can you have fruit after your surgery?  I’m looking at recipes that I want to make.
Or does it anger the ENDO?

Me:  as long as it comes with a side of meat

Marissa: RAARRRRRRGGGHHHHHH
Mmm…Meat sticks.

Me:  seriously though. i can’t have fruit without protein
annoying

Marissa:  So annoying!

Me:  and i can only have berries
i shall give you a copy of my diet so you will always know

Marissa:  Yes please! Then I can plan accordingly.

me:  calm down. i just said i would.

Marissa:  Ah, tonight Erin shall have the…sparkling water.

me:  and a bowl of salted ice cubes

Marissa:  SALT

me:  can you imagine if they took salt away? i would put on a wedding dress and jump off a bridge

Marissa:  No you wouldn’t.
I would push you.
Because assisted suicide is on the list of what friends do.

Posted in Endometriosis, My Life, random things | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Insomnia cur…zzzzzzz…

I’m going to be bold for a minute, and state that I may be pulling out of my insomniac stage. I’m afraid to utter these words, lest that elusive thing called Sleep decides to leave me again, but considering I have been sleeping well into the late mornings, and then long naps in the afternoons, and then sleeping again at night, it might be a fair assessment.

When my insomnia started last year, I tried everything to trick my body into sleeping. Because that’s what it eventually turned into…finding a way to trick my body. And I mean EVERYTHING:

  • Lemon balm
  • Warm baths at night
  • Light stretching before bed
  • No reading, eating, or watching Netflix in bed
  • No bluelights in the bedroom at all
  • No caffeine
  • No alcohol
  • As much red wine as needed until I passed out
  • No food after 5pm
  • A light snack right before bed
  • Eat cheese with crackers before bed
  • Eat ½ a banana before bed
  • No sugar
  • No evening workouts
  • Melatonin (up to 25mg, with no result)
  • Ambien
  • Lunesta
  • Trazadone
  • Sleepy time tea
  • Journaling to “release the day” from my brain
  • Lavender oil in my baths
  • Lavender oil on my pulse points
  • Gentle music to signal relaxation
  • Relaxation guided meditations
  • Waking up very early and not taking any naps
  • Acupuncture
  • Chinese herbs
  • Turning the AC down low
  • Reading on the couch, THEN moving to the bed
  • Dimming/turning off the lights as the sun goes down
  • Getting plenty of Vitamin D during the day because your body needs it for melatonin blah blah blah something science related
  • Sleeping with a sleep mask
  • Sleeping with a sound machine
  • Having regular hours for sleeping and rising

I scoured the internet for tips, and tried all of them. As you know, none worked. Not one single suggestion. My roommate was frequently gone during the week for work, and I would say goodnight to him around 11pm, then go up to my room and read. The clock would tick past 1am, 2am, 3am, and then at 4:45am I would hear the front door open and close as he left for his early morning flights. I was still wide-awake and had switched from the book to Netflix. Eventually I would need a change of scenery and move downstairs to the couch, staring listlessly from the TV to the busy street outside.

One of the most annoying things people will say to insomniacs is “Well, with all that extra time, think of everything you can get accomplished!” No. Shut up. It doesn’t work like that. You know what it feels like to lose out on a night of sleep and then be expected to operate at full creative capacity the next day? It’s pretty damn hard. Your brain is foggy, your decision making hampered, and your emotions teetering on a needle point. Now, instead of going home and going to bed, imagine that night you come home exhausted, but again you don’t sleep. So the next day, those previous conditions are compounded, and you are more tired than you thought was possible. Now, imagine that is your life every day. I was a zombie. You could see it in my eyes. They were dull and vacant. My brain was thick with haze, and I couldn’t manage to make basic choices like what to eat for dinner. I cried daily, because I had lost all sense of reason and coping mechanisms.

But the worst part was just lying there, on the couch, staring outside at a beautiful day I couldn’t participate in. Getting messages from my friends – invites to concerts, parties, wineries…things I no longer was capable of. Being so exhausted I wanted to die, yet knowing sleep would never come. The absolute worst part was wondering if this would be my life forever.

Once that happens, Depression pops up and realizes he has a nice warm spot to build his home. And so there I was, battling the big three: Insomnia, Anxiety, and Depression. And crying daily as I watched them slowly lay claim to what used to be, my life draining out of me in silvery wisps like Dumbledore filling his Pensieve with his thoughts.

In the afternoons, waves of exhaustion would roll over me with such intensity that I would turn over on the couch and eagerly expect a nap. This never came, of course. But I never stopped trying. I would lie there, exhausted and wide awake, listening to the noises outside. Sleep still far off in the distance, neither looking my way or bothering to acknowledge my pleas for help. This was how I lived from September 2013 to May of this year.

I hear some of you say, “But you MUST have slept some! Otherwise you’d be dead.” True. Some nights I slept for 2, even 3 hours! But mostly it was just passing the night, hovering over that dim veil of consciousness where you’re drifting off, but still awake enough to notice everything going on around you.

All that to say, things are happening. Exciting things! I guess the new medication Dr. Mathias has me on is working. My circadian rhythms are still totally effed, but that is the least of my priorities right now. I’M SLEEPING NOW, B*TCHES!!!!!!

There are two main reasons I write this post:

  1. A major red flag to my health was the fact that despite everything I tried for sleep, nothing worked. I should have been more aggressive in my search at that point. IF YOU AREN’T SLEEPING, GO TO A DOCTOR. GO TO A DOCTOR. GO TO A DOCTOR. I cannot stress this enough. And don’t stop until someone figures out why.
  2. In the end, the most important thing is to find what works for you and your body. Because no matter what everyone else says, you know your body best. After much experimentation, I have found a “process” that would make sleep experts cringe. I take a relaxing bath with lavender oil, because I like the smell, and I like to be clean when I get into my sheets. Then I do some yoga stretches. Then I’ll get into my bed, not because “it’s time to sleep” (remember, I have to trick my body) but because I want to be comfortable. Then I’ll read for a bit. Maybe 30-40 minutes. Then I will put the book away, pop a Xanax or 2 (the quantity varies nightly as I don’t know how bad my anxiety will be) and watch 30 Rock on Netflix, with my bedside light on, until I fall asleep. I don’t know why, but this is the only way I can coax my body into sleeping.

Reading doesn’t work – it makes me really anxious to read before sleeping. Who knows why. Also, leaving the light on is a way for me to surrender to the insomnia. “Ok. I’m not going to sleep, so might as well just leave the light on and watch TV.” And I choose 30 Rock because it’s so damn funny it takes my mind off of myself. Also, because I’ve seen all the episodes, I don’t have any anxiety about falling asleep and missing something good. Sounds trivial, but every bit of anxiety is just another pebble on the pile that needs to be removed. So that gives me the “freedom” to fall asleep, if that makes any sense.

For some reason, that bizarre formula leads up to me getting some shut eye. A week ago, I still wasn’t falling asleep until 4 or 5am, but recently I managed to fall asleep as early as 2:30am! And that was after sleeping until 12pm the previous day, waking up for breakfast, then going back to bed from 1-8pm. I have no idea what is going on, but it’s like Christmas every day, and I’m letting my poor body lap up as much of this sweet sleep as it wants. Who knows…maybe one day soon, my circadian rhythms will click back into place too and the night will become a thing of peace and refuge instead of this place riddled with anxiety and exhaustion. It looks like I’m headed that way, and I’m so thrilled.

As far as surrender goes, this has been one of my most difficult tests. Since I don’t fall asleep until well after 4am, I don’t wake up until 12 or 1pm if I have a good night. That is really late, but it’s still 8 hours or less based on when I sleep. I am not a morning person, but I do love the mornings and being able to wake up and get stuff done. And I have this nagging belief that people who wake up late are lazy/unproductive/losers, etc. Conditioning from words my father would say to me as a child, and then society as I grew up and went out into the world. So I fought it for ages. Would try to force myself into bed no later than midnight, and set my alarm for 9am. And it was just all so pointless, because my body always had other ideas in mind. Thanks to Dr. Mathias letting me know about the hyper activity going on in my bowel from 11pm-3am, there really is just no point trying to sleep during that time. So I wait it out. All those months of being so frustrated that pills and home remedies won’t work finally make sense. My surrender has been that I know I have no chance of sleeping until after 3am so I might as well just let any preconceived time frames, and beliefs about rising late, go. If I sleep into the afternoon, then so be it. This is a huge surrender point for me. Sure, sometimes I still feel like a loser when I wake up and the clock says 1:30pm. But then I remember why. I slept. Yeahhhhhhh I SLEPT! Then I high five a million angels.

 

 

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Congratulations! You Get Diabetes

This post is very medical and very long, so it might be boring for those of you not in the medical field. Just an FYI.

I’d like to add a new doctor to my team: Dr. Mathias, my gastroenterologist. He will be my main doctor going forward in managing my endo.

My first appointment with him was early in the morning at the end of May, and I had to fast starting at midnight the night before due to a test he was going to run on my stomach.

Dr. Mathias himself comes to get me from the waiting room. That immediately endeared him to me. He takes my mom and me back into the exam room and has me sit on the table. He looks at my fingernails, my hands, my tongue, feels my throat, listens to my lungs, then has me lie back and listens to my stomach with his stethoscope. Then he lets me listen. A normal stomach sounds like gurgling. A stomach damaged by endo sounds like rice krispies popping in milk. And that’s exactly what it sounded like. It was so weird.

Next up was the test, with a machine that HE invented. NBD. He took me into a dimly lit room and had me lie in a recliner while his nurse hooked up three little electrodes to my stomach that would monitor the activity for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, he gave me a cup of water and ran the test for another 30 to see how long it takes my stomach to empty the water. The test is painless, and I was able to take a nice little nap since they turned out the lights and shut the door.

When it was over, I went back into the first exam room where my mom was waiting for me. He printed out the results:

  1. My stomach takes between 20-24 minutes to digest a cup of water. To put this in perspective, the average person with a healthy bowel takes between 3-4 minutes for water to move out of the stomach. Endo damage to the bowel is irreversible, so my stomach will forever operate this slowly. This is also why I have to stay on an anti-inflammatory diet –my system can’t handle foods that are harder to digest. Now I finally understand why I was constantly in pain with a distended belly for the past 6 months, eating inflammatory foods without any awareness as to how hard it was for my body to break down. This also explains my early satiety. I’ll be starving, but can get full with just a few bites of food, only to be hungry again 20-30 minutes later.
  2. I have an insulin sensitivity. Yep, you read that correctly. I wanted to throw something when I heard this. I am one of the cleanest eaters around, I’m very active, and I don’t ever drink juice or soda. C’mon body! Now I can’t eat ice cream anymore. Thanks endo, you asshole.

Once I heard “diabetes”, my shutdown reaction mechanism kicked in and the room narrowed to a fine point and I didn’t hear the doctor talking anymore. I pulled within myself screaming and pissed at this disease for ruining everything. First it takes away cheese and bread. Then red meat. And now sugar?!?! I don’t eat much sugar really, but ice cream is my favorite food of all time and if I want to splurge on some Ben & Jerry’s Phish Food, then I want to do so without sending my body into shock. Luckily this pity party lasted only about 45 seconds before I realized Dr. Mathias may be saying some very important things I needed to hear. So I pulled myself out of it to pay attention like an adult.

He drew a diagram of my bowel that I still don’t understand. He used it to explain how endo gets into your gut and starts messing everything up by closing doors that should be open and opening doors that should be closed, if that makes sense. Something about all my receptor cells being “excited” too. But not the good kind of excited like if you were to spot a unicorn in the wild.

I also learned that 95% of your serotonin receptors are in your gut. Right now I have an overload of serotonin (a result of the endo/insulin sensitivity) which is most active between 11pm-3am, thus causing my severe nighttime anxiety and insomnia.

This, my friends, is a really good time to point out why you should always listen to your intuition. Because when I had all of this anxiety months ago, I knew it had to do with my body, not my brain. But no one believed me. I don’t know how I knew this, I just did. It was an anxiety that originated somewhere deep inside me, but not from my head.

Maybe I knew this because it was a really bizarre anxiety. I’ve been “brain anxious” before, where your brain won’t shut off and thoughts keep whizzing by like you’re standing on a train platform, barely able to glimpse the first car before the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th fly by. It wasn’t like that this time. I was so exhausted that my brain pretty much shut down at night, like it was saying “I’ve done all I can do. You’re on your own.”  And it would tuck itself in for the night while my body was just waking up.

The anxiety would start around midnight, and would course through my body with inexplicable agitation. I would begin tossing and turning to see if I could get comfortable and relax. That never worked, and the more I lied there the more I felt like something was going to burst out of my chest. I would let my arm hang off the side of the bed and let it shake continuously, trying to get the energy out. When that wasn’t enough, I would get out of bed and do jumping jacks, lunges and run in place. Anything to let it pass through me so I could sleep. Remember, I’m also an insomniac with a zombie like disposition, so I have two very powerful forces working against me: one part that desperately wants to sleep but can’t, and another part that desperately wants to get the anxiety out but I don’t have the physical energy to do it. Does that make sense? When THAT didn’t work, I would resort to running laps around the island in the kitchen. Remember when I said in earlier posts that I was on the verge of a mental breakdown? Well, doing that shit at 3AM is the express train to Crazy Town. It’s like I was watching myself slowly go insane. And ALL of it, ALL OF IT, was simply because I had too much serotonin. Hormones, man. They really eff you up.

It’s a terrible, terrible thing to experience, and I hope none of you ever do.

That was how I spent 4-5 nights per week for months.

Do you see how complicated this disease is? And how easily it can be misdiagnosed? Somehow I’ve managed to land myself the one man in the world who has made it his life’s mission to know everything about endo and what it does to your gut. Trust me, I do not take this for granted.

<Climbs on soapbox>
If you have been diagnosed with endometriosis and you aren’t seeing a gastroenterologist to manage this chronic disease, you are doing yourself a disservice and providing a fertile ground for the endo to return. Get yourself a gastro doctor!
<Climbs off>

Ok, back to me. Going forward, he wants to treat me with the following:

  1. Minerals (high grade minerals that heal the gut, 2 tbsps every morning)
  2. Pharmaceutical grade fish oil, one with every meal and one at bedtime
  3. Klonopin, .25mg before each meal and one at bedtime (to control stomach seizures)
  4. Periactin (Cyproheptadine) 0.5 ml am and pm (serotonin blocker)
  5. Anti-inflammatory/low sugar diet including a tbsp of olive oil at every meal

I took the Klonopin for a week and a half and then had to stop. It gave me such severe anxiety that I was taking 3 Xanax during the daytime. I never have to take Xanax during the day, and even on my worse nights I never take more than 2. My mom did some research and suggested I stop the Klonopin ASAP. I did and was fine the next day. I called his nurse to make sure I was okay to stop it, and she said as long as I felt okay we were good. I will never touch the stuff again.

The Periactin, however, has turned out to be a LIFE SAVER. More about that in the next post.

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Rectum Redemption

Today was a good day: I went to the Chocolate Bar and I had a finger in my bum.

It’s the post everyone has been waiting for….just HOW does rectum play into endometriosis??

Well you’re about to learn it all, my friends. So grab a cup of coffee and settle in, and be thankful it’s me going through this, and not you.

Today I saw Dr. Snyder, the colo-rectal surgeon. After my meeting with Dr. Sutton I wasn’t too fussed. Figured when I meet the rest of the team we would just go in, he’d quickly explain his procedure and what he will do to my colon, and we’d be on our merry way.

My mom comes to get me (I was dog sitting), surprises me with a bottle of rosé (yay!), and we head over to the Med Center.

We’re pulled back and they take my vitals, then we go wait in Dr. Snyder’s office. Dr. Snyder comes in with a very handsome resident. He says that the resident will be inputting all of my information into the system, then we’ll get started.

So we chat for a bit, and I’m forced to tell him all of my embarrassing symptoms… like daily digestion woes, painful intercourse, and stabbing rectal pain. He’s a robot during the entire briefing. Zero emotion or empathy. Rude. Then without ceremony he gets up and says, “I’ll go get Dr. Snyder and we’ll start the exam.”

Blink blink. No no no. He’s mistaken. He leaves the room and I look at my mom. “What kind of exam? I think they have me confused. I’m not here for an exam.” I’m starting to panic. I’m at the COLON RECTAL CLINIC. This will not end well.

Hot Robot comes back in and I say “What do you mean by “exam?” He looks at me like I’m an idiot and says, “Well Dr. Snyder has to look at you and see what he’s dealing with.” And he turns around, waiting for me to follow him, just like it’s a normal Wednesday with people getting fingers jammed up their bums.

Now I turn into a robot. I hand my purse to my mom like I’m about to walk the Green Mile. We lock eyes and are thinking “this is really gonna suck”. I follow Hot Robot in a zombie-like state into the examination room, where he leaves me alone with the foreboding to which my imagination is prone.

I’m sitting in this cold, sterile room by myself, fluorescent lights glaring down, and trying really hard not to cry. I promptly chew off one fingernail and am about to go to town on the next when the nurse comes in and says she’s going to prep me. I look around, but there aren’t any gowns or blankets or other things you typically see when you get down and dirty at the doctor.

She says, “Pull your dress up, pull your underwear down to your knees, and come over here and get on your knees and lean over on the table.”

“What?” On my hands and knees, just so…..exposed?

I don’t think so. I stay in my chair. But she’s looking at me expectantly and pulls out the little stool for my knees, motioning for me to come over.

What choice did I have? I assume the position.

Then Dr. Snyder comes in with Hot Robot and tells me what he’s about to do. He explains everything while I’m in this position. So imagine, if you will, me on my knees, leaning forward on the table and resting on my forearms, ass up in the air, and craning my neck at an awkward angle to be able to see his face. It was demoralizing.

Sort of like this:

photo (1)

I tell him I’m nervous, and he says that if I feel uncomfortable or pain at anytime to say something and they will stop. Right now! I’m uncomfortable right now!

They file behind me ready to get up in there. “We’re just gonna raise the table up a bit….” And there’s a gentle humming as he raises me higher in the air so my bum is face level. I. Am. Mortified.

In goes one finger in the vagina, to feel for endo nodules along my vaginal wall. He asked if it hurt, but it didn’t.

Then goes the finger in the bum. He just slipped that puppy right in there with surprising speed and finesse. This is clearly no amateur around rectums. Surprisingly, no pain there either. Again, he’s feeling for nodules to see how far the endometriosis has spread down my rectal wall.

Then he gets a very scary metal instrument that I’m sure was used as a torture device in the Middle Ages. He sticks that into my bum and blows air into it which showed him if there was any tethering. After that I stop listening. I have no idea what he meant, or what could be tethered to my rectal wall, but I do remember him using that word.

Then he’s done. I think the entire exam took less than 2 minutes, and I experienced zero pain. They leave so I can pull my pants up, and my mom comes in shortly after.

Dr. Snyder, his nurse and Hot Robot all come back in. He tells me he didn’t feel any nodules, which is great news, because it means surgery will not be as long or invasive on his part, and that I’m one of the better candidates he has seen. I’m so relieved to hear this, even if it required having a finger in my bum. It’s the first piece of good news I’ve had in months. He explains how his role in the surgery will be to remove the nodules that have formed on my colon and intestines and worst case scenario, a part of my colon will have to be cut out and the 2 ends fused together.

Risk with this kind of surgery is the colon leaking which can cause a serious infection and would require emergency surgery to repair (gulp) – but those cases are rare and he’s highly doubtful I will have anything to worry about.

Then my mom takes me to The Chocolate Bar for a slice of gluten-free cake. I’d say overall, today was a win.

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Meeting My Urologist

First on the list is my urologist, Dr. Sutton. His office in the Med Center is warm and full of bears – he’s from Idaho. I guess they’re known for bears?

He comes in to greet us, a bundle of energy and confidence, and starts explaining his part of the surgery.

“When is your surgery again?”

“July 8th.”

(Looking at his calendar) “Oh good, I’ll still be here.”

That’s something you guys checked before you set the date, right??

Anywho, he explains that he will go in and weave these flexible, glowing lights through my ureters all the way up to my kidneys, and it will make my body look like an airport runway at night.

The purpose is to make the ureters really obvious, because they are extremely delicate, and if Dr. Mangal accidentally lasers one during the procedure then that is bad news bears. But that’s his one job. Lights go in, and he heads back to the office, leaving the rest to Mangal.

He then asked me if I had seen the colo-rectal surgeons yet and I said no. “Good”, he said, “Because they will scare you.”

“What?”

“Oh, they’ll tell you how they may have to remove part of your colon and you will have to wear a colostomy bag for a couple weeks, but those are all worst case scenarios. I’m glad you’re seeing me first – just remember not to get freaked out by what they say.”

Too late. Already scared.

10 minutes later, we paid and left. Bada bing, bada boom! These surgeon meet and greets are gonna be a breeze! Finally a girl catches a break…

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