Back in early October of 2008 I was just a month into my senior year at Boston College. Life was going pretty well for me. I was happy with all my classes, I was starting to get back into rowing after a back injury the previous summer, the football team was doing well, and my buddies and I were having an absolute blast. Everything was going just fine until one day I noticed some peculiar symptoms. So naturally I called home to Mom and told her all about it who told me, "Call the doctor." So I made an appointment with the student health services for sometime the following week, and when I went I was referred to a gastroenterologist for an appointment about five or six weeks later. Not being in any pain and just having some peculiar symptoms I didn't really think too much about it.
In the meantime I naturally resorted to Googling my symptoms and trying to figure out for myself what was wrong with me. I skimmed the list of possibilities—colon polyps, colon cancer, hemmorhoids, Crohn's disease, peptic ulcer, stomach cancer—but in the end I just thought that I couldn't possibly have any sort of chronic disease or something as life-threatening as cancer. After all, I was 21 at the time and in good health, so none of this made sense. I knew that I would just have to wait to visit the doctor to see what they would have to say.
A week or so had gone by and my symptoms continued, and another week had gone by and slowly everything started getting progressively worse. I began to grow concerned when my left and upper abdomen really started to ache. With my appointment with the gastro still four weeks away, I called see if I could see them as soon as possible. Luckily I was bumped into an open slot for the following day.
Let me just say that I was truly lucky that I was able to sneak into the open appointment that day, because when I woke up in the morning I knew that I would need some immediate attention. The pain on my side was getting worse, and the amount of blood that I was seeing was enough to make me really worry. So when I finally got to the gastro I told them absolutely everything that had been going. She told me with a straight face that I needed to get a colonoscopy to figure out what was going on.
"I need get what now? A colonoscopy?" I thought. "Are you serious? But I'm only 21? Oh my God, my friends are going to laugh their faces off when they hear this one."
My doctor could tell I was wary. She explained, “Yeah, well, with you experiencing pain in your upper abdomen, I'm going to need to do an entire colonoscopy rather than the sigmoidoscopy, which would only allow me to see the lower portion of your colon. It's a relatively simple procedure and should take less than an hour or so. And don't worry, you'll be under anastesia.”
Darn straight I'm getting anastesia! Oh man, I hope she's right that she's on to something here, because I didn't want it turning into one of those situations where doctors run tests to eliminate the possibility of something. I didn't want to get a colonsocopy to find out that it wasn't something. If I was going to get a colonoscopy I wanted to get some definitive answers as to what was going on with me. Well, she gave me the information for the preparation for the colonoscopy, which is essentially a regimen of a severe overdose of laxatives. I thought to myself, “Oh boy. This is going to be so much fun.”
To be continued tomorrow with Hi Ted, meet Crohn's disease – The Colonoscopy.