When redundancies and semicolons have nothing to do with words…

colonoscopyHere’s why I want you to call your doctor and make that appointment for those tests you keep putting off:

Two weeks ago I had surgery to remove a polyp that was hiding in such a tricky spot the doctor couldn’t remove it during the colonoscopy. The nasty thing was hiding right where the small intestine met the large one.

I say met, past tense, because there’s a whole new meeting place now. I’ve been redecorated, reconstructed, and otherwise reconfigured. I was referred to a wonderful surgeon who informed me that, no worries, they’d just go in through my belly-button and remove a few inches of intestine on each side, small and large, and pull out the polyp. Then they’d just reattach the leftover bits and snip snap, off you go.

“Woah.” I thought.

“Cool.” I said. I was too stunned by the whole thing to ask questions or think real thoughts. And he was just so darned upbeat and reassuring. This is his job, you know? I’ve never met a surgeon more kind and friendly to be honest. That was enough for me.

So I waited until the night before the surgery to actually look closely at the procedure. People, remember I am a cautionary tale! Look AFTER the surgery! Or never look. Yeah, never look. They did some stuff. I’m not even going to link it, feel free to go ahead and Google “laproscopic right colectomy” for grins. The procedure was supposed to take two hours, so I told my husband and my dad (who drove up from his snow bird season for this fun) to settle in.

Well, it was three hours. Because apparently I have (or is that had?) a very “redundant” colon. In writing, redundancy is to be avoided, unless you’re trying to make a point out of it, you know, creatively. In nature, redundancy is not that great either. I knew my colon was not ideal — the referring doctor had likened it to a silly straw during our last consultation. I even warned my surgeon, but I think maybe “silly straw” was understated. Imagine that. No, don’t. Let’s just say they spent an extra hour sorting, removing and rearranging. They took more than a foot of colon. Then they put the rest back in a way that makes more sense. This will eventually seem like a good thing, I’m sure. I mean I’m still a bit freaked out about the whole thing, and there’s still superglue in my belly-button, so give me time.

Was it fun? Um, seriously? Am I glad I did it? You bet your ass (ha!). The polyp is gone, and I’m left with a less-redundant semicolon. We knew the polyp was benign from the colonoscopy. But nothing stays benign in the colon. Polyps are bad news waiting to happen. And this wasn’t my first polyp. I’m 49, younger than the recommended age for this test. I started in my late 30s because my father had colon cancer in his early 40s. He’s fine now, but he lost a lot more than one foot of colon! So I’m grateful for my semicolon, grateful for modern medicine and wonderful doctors, and especially screening tests, which have saved my life quite literally more than once. Just make the appointment, okay?

I’ve been on the couch for two weeks, and am finally sitting mostly upright at a real computer, and I’m off the Percocet (mostly). I wrote some fun poems on that stuff last week… I’m in the itchy phase of healing, and my cabin fever is at high pitch. I’m off to walk in the sunshine before Raleigh gets hit with another snowstorm tonight. We’ve been slammed with school closings for over a week here, so even though I’m home alone with my husband, my entire community is suffering from cabin fever with me. Ah well, make the most of the quiet times, right?

Oh, one last thing. Make the damn appointment!

1 Comment

  1. Stacy Youst Sillen

    Yes, I did have that screening last year, small polyps removed, and also the endoscopy (?), where he found 4 small ulcers. Watching Kurt’s father die from stomach cancer a few months earlier is why I made that call.


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