And so it began: four months of every kind of trauma…
Trauma #1. Hearing the three words: “We found something.”… “Something”… as it turns out, was a mass the size of a flattened golf ball in my hepatic flexure… the very worst place you can have a polyp… and, because of its size, shape, and location impossible to be removed endoscopically.
Trauma #2. Seeing the horrifying images of the large, ugly mass growing inside of me.
Trauma #3. The stress of waiting for the pathology report of the biopsies taken during my colonoscopy.
Trauma #4. Two weeks of anxiety waiting for my initial consultation with the surgeon who would remove the polyp.
Trauma #5. Reading the pathology report from my biopsies saying that I have an abnormal adenoma, negative for cancer, but that the results were not definitive due the polyp’s very large size and concerning shape and the fact that the biopsies were just samples.
Trauma #6. The first meeting with my surgeon, expecting to discuss a minimally invasive local excision of the polyp. Surprise! The real plan is the total removal of my ascending colon and half of my transverse colon, along with my appendix and neighboring lymph nodes.
Trauma #7. Waiting for blood work that measures colon cancer antigens. Turned out to be lower than the threshold that would indicate cancer–a cause for some relief, but the test is not considered definitive.
Aside: At my second meeting with the surgeon, they described the surgical procedure–at my request. The plan is to pull my intestines out through an incision just above my belly button and do all the work outside my body, just like repairing a leaky hose, then to shove it all back in. Sounds a lot simpler that I expected. Such surgery considered major, but not high risk, giving me some peace of mind.
Trauma #8. Surgery scheduled three months out. My heart sank. I would have signed up to do the surgery that very minute. But no. Three months! (after already going through a month of uncertainty and anxiety)
Trauma #9. Three months to imagine this big, ugly mass still growing inside of me.
Trauma #10. Three months to agonize about who to tell about my situation… and what to tell them… and how to tell them… when to tell them… if to tell them.
Trauma #11. Three months getting my affairs in order just in case.
Trauma #12. Three months to ruminate about all the things that can go wrong with the surgery and recovery.
Trauma #13. Three months to freak out about what they might find once they get in there.
Trauma #14. And three months to let my imagination run wild about all the horrible lives I might have to live after surviving the surgery.