colorectal health and whatnot

I feel like I have been neglecting my blog.  For good reasons, I guess, but still. Maybe I feel like I’ve been neglecting myself.  I haven’t given myself a chance to come here and just write what’s on my mind much lately.  No particular reason other than just being busy with life and time slipping by too fast.  Suddenly, the things I thought about writing seem insignificant.

So a big thing happened last week and it wouldn’t be a “big thing” in my life without lots of reflection, worry, feelings, and emotional over-stimulation in general… I had a colonoscopy.  I know it doesn’t sound super heart-wrenching but stick with me for a minute.

My dad was diagnosed with colon cancer at age 41, and then again at 43.  This is so uncommon that routine screenings are not even recommended until age 50.  With such significant family history, I was advised that I should have been screened at age 31.  Well, I’m three years late.

I can promise you that I never did drugs as a teenager, but when I think about my teen years they run into one another in a blur.  I was barely in high school when my dad was diagnosed.  You know, my OLD, very old fatherly dad.  My super old, in his forties, old dad.  I remember my parents telling me the first time he was diagnosed. It pains me to admit that life pretty much went on as usual for me, aside from visiting him in the hospital after some major surgeries and spending more time with him during the summer when he was on temporary disability during his treatment and recoveries. I remember crying a few times when we’d receive discouraging news from the doctor.  Even still, I was living in my self-centered teenage world and naively believed that nothing could beat my strong father. Everything would be just fine.  Because when you’re a kid, what’s the alternative?

Anyway, in an odd (or maybe not-so-odd?) way, this whole colonoscopy thing has had me thinking about and missing my dad a bunch. Regretting that I wasn’t more personally affected by his illness at the time. Good grief, what did he think of his selfish teenage daughter?  I’ve been thinking about my own mortality on some level.  The fact that he was only SEVEN years older than I am now when he was diagnosed is blowing my mind. Forty-one, all the sudden, doesn’t sound old at all. It sounds like the prime of life.  I can’t imagine how my dad felt, at just 41 years old and then again 2 years later, to be fighting for his life.

Before my procedure, I was lying on the bed, looking around. Taking it all in.  Reading literature posted on the walls. The nurse that prepped me asked a lot of questions about my family history. I got choked up explaining my dad’s past. As soon as Ryan came to sit with me and held my hand, I became overwhelmed with emotion. I pictured my dad getting ready for his procedure and wondered how nervous he was every time – was the cancer back or would he have a clean bill of health this time?  Ryan and the nurse both asked me if I was in pain or nervous and I just shrugged as tears streamed down my face and said I was fine. How was I supposed to explain what I was feeling at that moment?

Luckily, I am aware of my increased risk for colon cancer and my test came back perfectly fine. No polyps. I will get to experience the pleasure of this procedure every five years for the rest of my life. Enduring that sounds way better than enduring colon cancer though, so it’s a small price to pay. I feel thankful for the opportunity to do these prevention screenings.

On a related and somewhat unrelated note, speaking of drugs and colonoscopies…  Thursday I remember thinking multiple times that I felt perfectly normal following my procedure. It wasn’t until the next day that I realized the entire evening was a blur. I had to ask Ryan to tell me every detail of what happened at the hospital and grilled him on my behavior. He swears I wasn’t acting bizarre. However, it really, really, really got to me that there were parts of the evening that I forgot altogether.  Naturally, it didn’t make sense that I would want to go out to eat, go with Ryan to pick up the boys, then later take them out for cupcakes and to the park. Pretty busy night considering everything I had been through that day.  I passed out super early (for me) at 9:30pm Thursday night. Friday I pictured Ryan and I eating at a different location than where we actually ate.  I couldn’t remember being in the car… at all…any of the 6 times we drove from one place to another.  And I totally spaced that we went to the park until I saw this pic I posted on Instagram.

photo (2)

UM? I’m still freaking out about this. (For one, that’s a terrible photo).  Too many pain meds… and to think that some people stumble through life like this? I guess that’s why they told Ryan not to let me sign papers, watch my kids alone, or drive anywhere for 24 hours. I’m not sure what’s worse though – that I legitimately thought I was fine to run all over town or that I struggled to remember half of it the next day.  Weird. Weird, weird, weird.  I don’t like drugs!