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Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Gut Feelings, Part 3

It’s been about three weeks since my last blog post.  Good grief- that sounds like I’m in a confessional: “. . . My last confession was three weeks ago.”  It has been a month and a half since the colonoscopy, and those weeks have been, for lack of a better term, interesting and educational. And not much fun.

We met with the surgeon on Friday, April 10, two days after the colonoscopy. He told us that the biopsies had come back positive for adenocarcinoma, rectal cancer.  He said that treatment would involve working with an oncologist to set up a treatment plan to shrink the tumor so that it could be removed surgically.  He also said that because of the location of the tumor, he would most likely have to remove the anal sphincter also, which would require a permanent colostomy.  Not the best news to hear.  Then, I guess he decided that seeing the pictures from the colonoscopy wasn’t good enough and he wanted to  do a digital exam of my already  very sore  rectum. After that wonderful experience I decided that I cannot be held responsible for any bodily harm I might inflict on the next person who approaches me wearing a lubricated latex glove! After that ordeal he said he wanted me to have a CT scan to see if the cancer had metastasized. The scan was set for the following Tuesday and I was told not to eat or drink anything after midnight the night before.  That instruction probably wasn’t all that necessary; I had pretty much lost my appetite by then, anyway. The doctor said he should have the results of the scan a  couple of days  after it was done and to call for the results.

We arrived at the radiology department at the hospital for the CT scan at 7:30 AM.  After registering, I was given a  16 oz bottle of clear liquid contrast material to drink.  It wasn’t exactly delicious, but it definitely tasted better than the colonoscopy prep stuff! After about an hour I was called back to the scan area, where they took blood to check my liver function. Then had me get on a table and inserted an IV to administer more contrast material just before running the test. This was my first experience with a CT scan and I was a little apprehensive, but it wasn’t bad at all.   The table I was on rolled in and out of a doughnut shaped opening that rotates around, taking x-ray images.  Every once in a while a robotic voice would tell me to “breathe in, hold, release.” It didn’t take all that long, and we went home to wait for the results.

I began calling the doctor’s office but didn’t hear back from him until the following Monday- six days after the scan. The wait was quite harrowing, actually, as one’s imagination tends to go into overdrive imagining  what the results might be.  He apologized for the delay, told me the scan showed my lungs were clear but there were some small spots on my liver, the largest being about a centimeter, that he wasn’t overly concerned about them as they were most likely harmless hemangiomas, not liver mets. He said he would have the oncologist’s office call me to set up an appointment to discuss a treatment plan which would include both chemotherapy and radiation therapy to run about six weeks. He said   he would  do the surgery to place a port for the chemo after I met with the oncologist and that  another CT scan would be done after the therapy to see if and how much the tumor had shrunk.

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