Yesterday I was, and today I am sad . . .
This week marks eight months since my mom’s death. Yesterday (24 June 2015) was exactly one year since finding out that my mom had another tumour and further surgery was not an option. What followed was a whirlwind fourteen months of caregiving and watching how mom deteriorated to the end.
Yesterday, at a routine visit to my own doctor, I was informed that I need to have a Gastroscopy and Colonoscopy as soon as possible. Since mom’s death I’ve been prescribed Vitamin B12 injections together with an Iron supplement and, in spite of this, my iron levels are not increasing and doctor says we need to find out why my body is not absorbing the iron being pumped into it. There may be many reasons for this – but I’m scared . . . Why?
Well, a lack of iron and constantly feeling tired was the very reason why my mom decided to go for a routine Colonoscopy in her late sixties. Fortunately for mom (at that time) her result came back negative. Her gut was so clean the doctor said he wished his gut could look like hers when he reached her age. Her next Colonscopy just over five years later – showed she had a tumour 20mm in diameter and a very aggressive form of Cancer which resulted in a whirlwind fourteen month end to her life eight months ago. From totally healthy to dead in fourteen months!
Today, I cried . . . I cried for the whirlwind fourteen months spent taking care of mom that just wizzed past me as I juggled a full time job, part time studies and taking care of mom in the last fourteen months of her life.
I cried for the grief I feel and mourning her loss for the last eight months.
I cried today, for the prospect of facing the same journey my mom faced . . . today, I cried.
Part of my grieving journey is to feel immensely sad from around the twenty fourth of the month to around the sixth of the next month. I assume this has something to do with the fact that it was around the twenty fourth of October that mom looked like she was close to the end of her journey but only died on the twenty seventh of October. We had her funeral that same week so my guess is, from a Psychological point of view, why I usually feel sad around the last week of the month. This makes sense to me – I don’t know if it makes sense to anyone else?
What have I learned about Colonoscopies?
A Colonoscopy is a day-case procedure in which the inside of the large intestine (colon and rectum) is examined. A Colonoscopy is commonly used to evaluate gastrointestinal symptoms, such as rectal and intestinal bleeding, or changes in bowel habit. Colonoscopy is also advised for adults without any symptoms to check for colorectal polyps or Cancer. A screening Colonoscopy is advised for anyone aged 50 years or older, and persons with a family history of colon polyps or Cancer should be screened at an age 10 years younger than it was diagnosed in the family member.
In my mom’s case – mom was diagnosed just after her seventieth birthday which means that my first Colonoscopy should be around age sixty (I’m not sixty yet).
What happens before a Colonoscopy?
In order to have a successful Colonoscopy, the bowel must be clean so that the physician can clearly view the inside of the colon. The physician gives very strict instructions regarding a particular liquid you have to drink and a very specific diet you have to follow prior to having a Colonoscopy. Without proper preparation, the Colonoscopy will not be successful and may have to be repeated.
What happens during a Colonoscopy?
The doctor will insert a long flexible instrument into the rectum and will progress to the caecum (beginning of the colon). If necessary, pieces of tissue (biopsy) can be removed for testing, and polyps can be identified and removed. The Colonoscopy may allow accurate diagnosis and treatment of colorectal problems, without the need for a major operation.
The Colonoscope is disinfected between procedures so is completely safe. An intravenous line is inserted (a “drip”) and you have to lie on your left side. A sedative and a pain-relieving drug is given to make you more relaxed during the procedure. Your vital signs are monitored, and you will be given oxygen to maintain a normal blood oxygen concentration. The procedure lasts between twenty and forty minutes on average, and you will be allowed to rest until you are fully awake. You may feel slightly bloated and uncomfortable after the procedure, due to air inserted into your colon to improve visibility.
What happens after a Colonoscopy?
You will remain in a recovery room for observation until you are ready for discharge from the hospital. You may feel some cramping or a sensation of having wind, but these symptoms will eventually go away. A responsible adult must drive you home after this procedure and you should avoid driving or operating machinery for twenty four hours afterwards. Alcohol should be avoided and a course of pro-biotics is recommended to restore intestinal flora.
Unless otherwise stated by your physician, you may resume your normal eating habits after a Colonoscopy. Wait until a day after the procedure before resuming normal activities e.g. exercise. If any polyps were removed or biopsies taken, you have to avoid using any medication containing aspirin ad anti-inflammatory drugs for two weeks. Anti-coagulants e.g. Warfarin or Piavix can only be taken once your physician has given you permission to do so.
If a biopsy was take or a polyp removed, mild rectal bleeding may be noted for 1 – 2 days after the procedure. If heavier bleeding is encountered e.g. clots of blood, or if you have severe abdominal pain, this must be reported immediately. If you are unable to contact the physician, report to the emergency room at the clinic or hospital where the procedure was performed immediately.
Gastroscopy – same as above except that the inside of the stomach is examined and the doctor will insert a long flexible instrument into the stomach through your throat. The rest of the procedure is the same as for the Colonoscopy.
So in a few weeks I will have the (joy) of having two tubes inserted during the same procedure – one down my throat and one up my back passage. Yay!