Archive for October 2009

Chapter 5 Post-op & hospital stay part two of three

October 11, 2009

Later that morning the nurse said I should try to stand up and walk around at least twice a day– it’s important to become mobile as soon as possible. I enthusiastically obliged since I’ve always been an active person.

I’m convinced that most of the IV poles in Beth Israel 10 floor Silver building is possessed by the ghosts of past patients. The IV pole I had had a mind of its own. I found myself one arm wrestling with it as I’m walking up and down the hall for the exercise and to break the monotony of the day. I just wanted to walk straight while the pole was determined to go left, then right, anything but straight. Then there was always the one stationary roller that just refuses to roll, period. No matter how many times I swapped poles they all responded the same way.

The nurses on occasion would mention that soon I would be free from the IV and have the painkillers given orally. All I would have to do is ask for one.
That sucks! I thought to myself, although I’ll be glad to get rid of the IV and the possessed IV pole, I’ve gotten used to getting a dose of the painkillers with a push of the button. Although the night nurse did say I was under dosing – which is amazing since any slight discomfort I would push that button.

The day & night nurses are both caring and fun, I remember the male night nurse, he has a quick wit– then he would tell me to “Laugh inward” so as to not damage my stitches. He even demonstrated how to cough inward – having your chest go “in” and not expand. So far I’ve been lucky not having to cough or sneeze.

Early afternoon the surgeon walks in to tell me the results of the pathology report.
His head low and for the first time he has a serious look in his face.

“The results of the pathology report came in” he says.
Bracing for the worst but secretly hoping for the best I took a deep breath and simply said “ok”

Then he smiled, lifted his head and said that there are no indicators that the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes and there’s a less than 10% chance of it spreading to other parts of the body! I almost jumped out of bed I was so happy!
“Isn’t that great news!” He finished
“That’s excellent news!” I replied, “What’s the next step” I asked with the widest smile I ever had.
“Well, you may be given a six month stint of chemo just as a precaution, but we will wait and see, in about a month or so to find that out, you will have to see an oncologist every three months for a year and of course, have an annual colonoscopy”
“I could live with that” I replied.
The surgeon also mentioned that I should be discharged in a day or two, when the stitches and IV is removed and things seem to be stable. It felt as if I just got here.

I spent the remainder of the afternoon calling up my friends and a cousin telling them
the good news.
During my stay at the hospital I felt as if I was a holographic image – like Princess Leia in Star Wars where she pleads for Ob One’s help in an image played through R2D2, you know… when Luke Skywalker first sees her.
That’s how I felt, turn to the left I’m there, turn to the right I’m not.

By the strong smell of food overpowering the corridor tells me when lunch and dinner was being served. Up until then I was still on a liquid diet, but I started to get hungry when I would smell food, a good sign that I was getting better… so I thought.

Well… the stitches were removed by a member of the chief resident’s entourage; the staples were replaced by a series of small, rectangle bandages that looked like those “Breathe Right” bands.
The IV was removed as well and now I’m totally free, FREE!!!
Free to roam around the corridor without wrestling with the IV pole.
Later that evening I was walking down the corridor when I saw a familiar face looking around. It’s my friend Viv! I came right up to her before she looked straight at me. It took a couple of seconds to recognize me, “I know, I look different in a hospital gown – do you like the latest fashion in patient wear?” I said as I twirled around.
Laughs and hugs followed and we were walking back to my room.

That night… in my sleep… I sneezed.
Not the building shaking, earth shattering sneezes that I’m infamous for, but rather a whimper type of sneeze. Although I kept right on sleeping – I could feel some of the bandages give way. I told the chief resident the next morning as he inspected the incision and he did notice a slight opening towards the last few inches of the incision. He said it was nothing major – but some of the bandages did become loose. So he had a member of the entourage redress the area.
The surgeon stopped by later that morning to see how I was doing and give me my progress report.

The threat of discharging me was ever present, after one of my acupuncturist sessions, a nurse mentioned that I may be discharged as early as later that day – when she left, the acupuncturist said these words “they are anxious to kick you out, I see” to that I simply replied “yes”.
By day four I grew weary of the liquid diet and grew more and more hungry each time the smell of food engulfed the halls whenever it was lunch or dinner time.

Friends upon their visits would comment how good I looked and the fact that I’m walking around without any apparent distress amazes them… given that I did have major surgery just several days before. The positive remarks given to me by my friends gave me the confidence in my rapid recovery to think that I can handle solid foods again.
I meant to voice my desire to eat solid foods when the chief resident made a cameo appearance sans the entourage, but I got distracted by the smell of his cologne he was wearing – I just laid there in bed thinking he must be going out that night and before I knew it, he was gone.
So… the next day when he stopped by with the entourage I mentioned if it was ok to be put on solids, the chief resident then instructed a member of the entourage to put me on solid foods, along with medication (a pill) . I told the surgeon later on that afternoon about my going on solid foods and he mentioned that it should be fine.

With the smell of food permiating the halls I knew dinner was on its way, I was so excited with the anticipation of eating solid foods again – my last meal – I remember it well… was Salmon in mustard garlic sauce with vegetables – I cooked it of course, and that was three days before the surgery.

The dinner tray came; I quickly lifted up the plastic cover to find that it’s rigatoni in tomato sauce with vegetables. I ate a couple of veggies, eating one at a time, and a friend stopped by for a visit as I impaled my fifth rigatoni with a fork.
She looked down at my plate and was in shock that I was eating solid food.
“Cindy, what are you doing?!” she asked in an exasperated voice.
“Having dinner” I simply replied.
“Is that wise? my mom didn’t go on solid food until a month after her operation and she only had a cancerous polyp removed, not a huge tumor” she answered.
“I got the doctors ok” I said.
I finished eating after that fifth rigatoni and covered the plate with the plastic cover.
With that we exchanged small talk and she left about an hour later.

Soon after her visit my stomach started to do wheelies, it was freaking out, I started to break into a sweat and had to run into the bathroom, and where I …yes… vomited.
That dinner didn’t last long in my stomach.

I spent the whole night going to the bathroom, this time… with the runs. Forget about sleep, the night nurse gave me Phillips of Magnesium but to no avail.
By the time morning came I was exhausted.
Now I looked like someone who had major surgery, gone were my rosy cheeks and energized self, in its place was an exhausted, lifeless person.

All this for food! I must add that the smell of dinner was much more powerful than the taste, let’s just say it’s not exactly 5 star.

I could see the headlines now… front page on the POST, I thought as I was lying in bed.

“Patient has successful colon cancer operation but dies from hospital cuisine”

Or truthfully, tries to eat solid food way too early.

 Website on colon cancer for the Latino community:


Chapter 5 Post-op & hospital stay part one of three

October 11, 2009

I rubbed my eyes as I woke from my slumber, surprised to find myself still in the pre-op room. A nurse was beside me checking my vitals.
“When will I go to surgery?” I asked.
“You already had it” she replied as she walked away.
That’s when I saw the wall clock.
It was 4:30pm
Six hours had gone by!
It felt as if I took a brief nap.
I looked down at myself to check and see any changes … still covered from the neck down with a white sheet…it seemed as if nothing had changed from this morning.

Grateful that the surgery part is behind me, now I realized that the equally challenging part awaits…the recovery. I was still hooked up to the IV. My next memory was of me being transported to the hospital room – which was in the 10th floor Silver building.
It was a semi-private room, I was grateful that I had the window side with an amazing view of the city complete with the Empire State Building – and that I was alone… for the first night.
Shortly after I settled in the surgeon stopped by with a beaming smile to tell me that they were able to remove the tumor and the surgery was a success. He also mentioned that since the tumor was pressing up against the abdomen muscle it was removed as a precaution. Had to remove a muscle? I thought.
“What are the long term effects of not having an abdomen muscle?” I asked.
“It shouldn’t interfere with your quality of life” he replied.
Then the surgeon mentioned something to the effect of the abdomen has is surrounded by many muscles….
As he was speaking all that kept going through my mind was the fact that the tumor was gone and the surgery a success. I was elated! After the surgeon left I was greeted by the hospital acupuncturist who asked me if I was interested. I said absolutely and scheduled a treatment for the next day.
Afterward a doctor came in with an entourage of people in white coats behind him.
Again- just like the surgeon I was amazed at how young he looked, he has a dark, olive complexion and fine features with deep dark eyes behind a pair of glasses… he reminded me of an actor. He was talking but I didn’t hear what he was saying, I was busy rattling my brain trying to remember the actor he reminded me of — priorities you know.
As he left the room I remembered who he reminded me of… Robert Downey Jr when he was in the TV show Alley McBeal, only with an olive complexion.

About an hour later the Physician’s assistant stopped by complete with beaming smile and dancing blue eyes repeated the news of the tumor and the successful surgery, I didn’t mind hearing the news again – we chatted for a little bit and she was out of the room.
Shortly afterward a barrage of nurses and “Patient care specialist” stopped by to take vitals and such, one of which told me that the IV contained painkillers and instructed me how to self administer should I start to feel any form of discomfort, it was primarily a button sitting beside me.
So, any tiny form of “discomfort” I pushed that button.
The friends who were with me at the surgical consult appointment stopped by, one at a time. It was great to see them and I relayed the message given to me by the surgeon.
That night I remember I thought I could just throw off my bed sheet and just walk over to the bathroom just a couple of feet away. The night nurse was there when I did throw off the sheet… only to find a rubber tube inside of me. Both half asleep and confused I instinctively started to pull the tube out of me, the nurse kept saying not to do that…then it registered… it’s a catheter.
“How long will I have this?” I managed to say
“A couple of days” replied the night nurse.
Ok, so I don’t have to go to the bathroom.
I managed to sleep the rest of the night.
A “Patient care specialist” greeted me the next morning as I rubbed my eyes open.
I then looked at the wall clock above the sink diagonal from me… it was after 5am.
She brought in fresh bed sheets and helped me wash myself as best as we both could do.

Later that morning the catheter was removed and I was free! Well, as free as I can be since I was still attached to the IV pole with the painkillers, so that I didn’t mind.
The nurse mentioned how important to pass gas to make sure “the plumbing worked well”. So that was my new mission of the day, so, after a couple of false alarms, it finally happened- later that evening I finally passed gas…. although it was a modest one…but hay, it was something. I felt such a sense of accomplishment as I dozed off to sleep.

I remained bedridden for the rest of the day- catching up with soap operas I haven’t seen in years, answering voicemails from concerned friends living far away and surfing the internet with my PDA – grateful to ambidextrous, since I was using my left hand. My right hand had the IV – therefore limited in mobility.
I also had a new roommate – she came in the middle of the day, bummed out that I wasn’t alone in my solitude.
I only heard voices from the other curtain, from what I gathered she has cancer too but don’t know what kind. The physician’s assistant stopped by to check in and later on some friends stopped by bearing flowers, which immediately cheered up the room.

That night I woke to one nurse telling another that the machine monitoring my vitals was broken, she was responding to my blood pressure reading – it was too low.

“No, that’s her reading, it’s been that way since the surgery” the nurse replied.
My blood pressure read 78/54.
That’s true.
Up till age 35 my blood pressure was always two digits both top and bottom numbers.
After age 35 the top number became three digits, with the bottom remaining two digits, three digits being 100 or 110 the highest over 65 or around that realm.
The fact that I have low blood pressure is amazing since everyone in my family – both immediate and extended – has beyond high blood pressure… I mean orbit high. I remember my mom’s reading was 210/175, I didn’t know you could still be walking around with those numbers.

That day I went on a liquid diet, breakfast usually consisted of tea and Melba toast, both lunch and dinner was soup and jello.
That night I had to go to the bathroom for the first time since before the surgery. Yeah!!
So in I went.
Then I partially removed my hospital gown.
The reflection I saw from the bathroom mirror almost made me fall against the wall behind me.
There I was, basically topless with a vertical line of staples starting at two inches above my belly button all the way to “Down there”.
My jaw dropped.
I was transported back to the scene where I asked the surgeon during the surgical consult appointment how large would the incision be. The surgeon made an apex. three inch gap between his thumb and pointer finger on his right hand. Ok, I could deal with that I said to myself then.

This was no three inch incision, but more like a 7 inch vertical incision down my belly. On my right side dangled two plastic round disks that contained a liquid substance connected by tubes that went into me. I quickly figured out they were drains.

Ok… now I know what questions I should have asked the physician’s assistant while I was in her office going through the pre-op preparation process.
Since this is my first (hopefully my last) operation I should have asked what to expect after the operation and recovery process – I didn’t anticipate the catheter, nor the possibility of a 7 inch vertical row of staples down my belly complete with drains attached to my right side across from the top line of my pubic hair.
As long as I know what’s going to happen beforehand I’m fine, but these little surprises throw me over a loop.

Throughout this whole ordeal I kept reenacting that final scene of the TV drama/comedy “Dallas” where Victoria Principal’s character wakes up to the sound of a running shower, goes to the bathroom and opens the shower door to reveal Bobby greeting her- that’s when she realizes the past year was a dream.
I keep thinking I’m going to wake from this painkiller daze and find this past several months to be all a dream, that I wasn’t diagnosed with colon cancer, I didn’t have the surgery and I don’t have this 7 inch scar down my belly.

Website on colon cancer for the Latino community:

Chapter 4 Pre-op

October 11, 2009

The surgery is set for January 27th; two weeks away¬–which turned out to be the longest two weeks of my life. Two days after the surgical consult I sent an email to both my bosses stating that I need to speak to them at their earliest convenience. The following morning I was in the conference room with my bosses and I told them of my health condition and pending surgery and the recovery period following. There was a sense of surprise and shock as they responded that I could take the time needed to recover and not to worry or stress about work. I voiced my appreciation and thanked them for their understanding and went back to my desk. I slowly told my fellow co-workers and I was met with the same sense of shock and surprise… and a flood of questions inquiring if I had any major symptoms, I told them of the Oprah episode with Dr. Oz. A co-worker told me that her husband was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer – she didn’t specified where but she gave me a valuable tip.
“You must keep a journal of all your Dr. visits and tests…this would come in handy for the medical insurance…  trust me you will need the information. You think you will remember it all, but you won’t”
I took her valuable advice and ran out and bought a small notebook, to this day I carry it in my pocketbook.
During the day everything was fine, I was kept busy at work. But at night… at night is a different story– sleeping turned into a challenge… my mind would race with nothing but “what if’s”… “What if the surgery wasn’t a success… what if the cancer would come back in another part of my body?” I told a friend and mentor of mine my dilemma and she came over with a small bag full of homeopathic sleep remedies she bought at her neighborhood health food store. Another friend told me about Tai Chi classes held at Pier 17 in the South Street Seaport early weekend mornings with Master Ru, I started that right away. A third friend told me about an acupuncturist she goes to in China Town that is amazing so I started getting treatments twice a week; anything to keep me occupied.
When faced with adversity I believe in the power laughter, as well as maintaining
a positive outlook – so I’ve filled up my Netflix queue with nothing but comedies.
All the Marx Brother’s movies, Buster Keaton, I ordered the complete box set of the British comedy “Absolutely Fabulous” as well as the box set of the 60’s British cult series “The Avengers- the Emma Peel episodes” ok, that wasn’t a comedy – but I remember seeing it when I was a child and thought it was a very cool show.
My Netflix queue had to include all of Monty Python’s Flying Circus episodes, as well as the beyond funny movie “It’s a mad, mad, mad, mad world” along with some Charlie Chaplin thrown in. 
So that’s how I spent my time before the surgery …work by day & watching comedies at night followed by the homeopathic sleeping pill.
Three days before surgery I was instructed by the Physician’s assistant to have a liquid only diet, light color liquid only – no dark liquids like cranberry or grape juice.

It was a snowy, grey January morning the day of the surgery. I fished for my PDA from my purse to see the time as the Second Ave bus came to the 42nd street stop. 6:33 am it reads as I board the bus on my way to Beth Israel Hosp. on 17th and first. My dear friend and mentor Karen Santry will meet me at the hosp. lobby so I won’t be alone when I registered.
The registration process was uneventful, I was asked the usual questions – verify my name, address, insurance info and such. Then my left wrist was fastened with a white ID band “now you belong to an elite group” Karen said as I checked to make sure the information was correct.
Karen said her goodbyes as I was whisked away into a change area where I would go from a person to a patient. I was given a large tote bag where I would put my clothes and given a blue hospital gown made of a lightweight paper like material. Afterward I was interviewed by a nurse who sat by a monitor and verified what I was going to have done.
Next thing I knew I was in the pre-op room laying on a bed covered in a sheet.
“Are you cold?” a nurse asked.
“No, I’m fine” I answered as I was scanning the room. It was a room that had several stalls that was divided by curtains. I saw that most stalls were filled and some had family members/friends.
I didn’t know you could bring people in here I said to myself.
I laid there watching the drama unfold in front of me… nurses fluttering around, one or 2 would check on me and my vitals, the constant ringing of the wall phone, Doctors running in and out either in scrubs or in white overcoats. Then I saw my surgeon as he walked in dressed in purple scrubs. He looked around, – I smile as I recognize him and at first he gives me a quizzical look – and then there’s the gleam of recognition in his eyes as he walks towards me.
Both of us smiling we say our hellos and he tells me what the next steps would be.
    “In a few minutes the anesthesiologist would set you up with an IV, soon you would be asleep and then you will be transported to the OR”. I asked how long the operation would be and he answered “Several hours” as he was flipping through a thick 3 ring binder he pulled from the foot of the bed. We exchange a few words and he runs off and on queue the anesthesiologist comes in, introduced himself and started the IV.
    As I laid there looking around fear was creeping over me.
        This is it I said to myself. I am not scared…I will not cry I kept chanting over and over again to myself fighting back the tears. Suddenly I wanted to know the time. My eyes gazed at the wall clock;
its 10:25am.
I was starting to feel the anesthesia setting in, started feeling …sleepy.

Chapter 3 the consult

October 11, 2009

The appointment for the surgical consult was a week away-
“Is that the earliest?” I asked the receptionist, wanting to see the surgeon that very afternoon.
“Yes, that’s the earliest” she said as she looked at me with sad, concerned eyes as she proceeded to write the info on an appointment card…. I guess she knew.
I left the Gastro Dr.s office in that bitter cold January morning and called my friend to tell her the news. She said her mom had the same thing 10 years prior and it was caught in time before it metastasized, it too was a tumor.
“How big was it?” I asked as I walked to the train station to the Port Authority. “About an inch” the voice on the other end of my PDA replied.
 “This one’s bigger”, I answered, ignoring the cold “how old was your mom when she was diagnosed?”  “She was 62”,
“You see, that’s where I’m in shock, I’m way too young to have this happen” (I was 45) I said in disbelief.
“Try not to think of it, (easier said than done) “when is the consult? I’ll go with you, I’ll call later”
I called another dear friend of mine while I was waiting for the bus to take me to work at the Port Authority.
I went to work that day not confiding to anyone. As it happens, it was a colleagues birthday that January 9th , and … as the office celebrated with a collaborative “happy birthday” followed by cake I couldn’t help but wonder if this was going to be my last year on earth… I thought as a slice of cake was handed to me.
The appointment day finally arrived, it was early morning and I had two friends of mine join me for both moral support and to absorb the information since I was still in a state of dazed shock.
At the waiting room my friends and I sat down and, while they talked about everyday stuff I was busy filling out the paperwork that was handed to me. Before long my name was called, and while my friends and I entered the room I was greeted by a woman with caring big blue eyes and bright smile wearing the familiar garb Dr’s wear – long white overcoat complete with stethoscope around her neck. She introduced herself as the Surgeon’s physician’s assistant. She instructed us to be seated and the surgeon will be in shortly.
After a few long minutes in came the surgeon, I was amazed at how young he looked.
He has a handsome compassionate face, a great disposition complete with a quick smile, a twinkle in his eye and soft voice.
He exuded confidence regarding the pending surgery; he gave best case and worst case scenenerios, Best case being that the tumor is completely removed followed by a 6 month stint of chemotherapy as a precaution. Worst case is that they operate and find that they can’t remove the tumor because of its size; at that point I will be given chemo treatments until the tumor is small enough so that they could operate and remove it.
“How big is the tumor?” I was able to ask.
“Oh, it’s large” he replied. “Would you like to see it?”
Before I had a chance to respond …he did something I was not prepared for… he pulled up my CT scan showing my tumor in all its glory right there in the 15 inch monitor. Next thing I knew I was face to face with my new enemy… I was shocked at the sight and relieved that my friends were there taking notes… because I was too stunned.
“What’s the size?” I asked, fixated on the monitor.
“Well it’s….” there was a measurement in centimeters in the middle of the screen next to image of the tumor, he started counting down with the mouse… “One, two three, four, five…” that’s where the measurement ended and the length of the tumor went beyond that.
“It looks to be about the size of a small grapefruit”
There was a moment of stunned silence in the office.
A friend of mine asked what stage it is – “stage 3” he replied. He went on to say that, based on its size; it’s about three years old.
That means it formed when I was 42!
Who thinks about getting a colonoscopy at 42?! My biggest worry at that time was if I was pregnant/not pregnant, not if I had a mad polyp in my colon.
As if ready my mind the surgeon said that it started out as a polyp, and then it just grew.
“But… I had no symptoms, no bleeding, pain…anything” I said. Then I told him of the Oprah episode I just by chance watched in which Dr. Oz talked about “The poop discussion”. We talked about that and how lucky I was to have caught the episode, recognized the symptoms and talked to my Dr. about it.
“No joke”, I said to myself.
“Why didn’t I have any pains if it was that size” I asked.
The surgeon explained that it’s the location; it’s on the right side – just where it turns to liquid – so the symptoms wouldn’t have surfaced until it was in the late stages.
He also mentioned that the tumor was pressing up against the muscles of my abdomen, and it’s dangerously close to my kidney – but not to worry – the liver is clear so it looks like it could be saved.
    I was at risk of losing a kidney?! This was just too much information  to grasp.
Although it was still early in the morning… I was already in the mood for a stiff drink.
    Next thing I knew I was laying on the examination table and the surgeon was kneading the right side of my abdomen. “Yes, I could feel it right here” he said.
“Are you busy this afternoon? Can the surgery be done then?” I said half- jokingly. I just wanted this thing out… now!
    The surgeon laughed and said it will be done on the 27th; this was the 16th of January … almost 2 weeks away.
    One of my friends was busy writing everything down; grateful she was doing this since I was in no way capable of such a task.
I remember the physician’s assistant was back in the office talking to the surgeon. Then I went with her to her office as the surgeon said his goodbyes and runs off, followed by my friends saying their goodbyes as they run off to work.
Alone with the physician’s assistant she told me of the next steps and gave me a printout of how to prep myself days before surgery.
“How long will out of work?” I asked
“about a month” was her reply.
Shocked by that answer, I repeated her reply “A month?!, why so long?”
“This is major surgery, your body needs time to heal”
Shortly after I left her office dazed.
    Next thing I remember I was on my way to the garage to collect my compact SUV to drive back to work, trying to absorb the morning’s events.
Dr. Oz talks about the importance of Aspirin & how it helps prevent colon cancer.

The obstruction

October 11, 2009

At that moment my mind went blank, “an obstruction… what does that mean?” deep down knowing full well what it meant, but I had to hear it from him.
“There’s something in the way, I couldn’t go any further”. He replied, “I need you to lie on the table”. Which I did, still trying to comprehend what’s happening.
He felt my abdomen and replied that he could feel something on my right side. “See, on your left side I feel nothing” he said as he was kneading my left side, “but on the right I could feel something… right here” as he kneaded my right side.
“I’m going to send you to get a CT scan; I’ll have the front desk make the appointments”.

A week later I was in Beth Israel Hosp. getting a CT scan. As I was in the waiting room drinking this liquid before the procedure I looked around at the other patients waiting to have similar testing done. Not one of them looked to be under 60. “What am I doing here?” I said to myself as I was drinking this liquid. Still in disbelief, I was convinced that the CT scan would reveal that everything is negative, and the doctor was wrong.
I went about my life and pushed back the thought of the “obstruction” until the following week when I went back to the Gastroenterologist’s office with the results.

I was back in the Gastroenterologist’s exam room when he came in with the same concerned look in his eyes.
That made me worried.
“Well, you have a large tumor which points to Colon Cancer”.
With a nervous laugh I replied that he must have the wrong file, I’m the healthiest person I know.
He looked down at the file and said… no… I’ll read you the results of the CT scan….
As he was reading the results my mind was racing… how could this be happening to me?!! Why would this be happening… to me?!!
And me without a bucket list!
My life flashed before me, grateful for my past accomplishments but was looking forward to a lot more.

“What’s the next step”? I asked.
“The next step is a surgical consult, you will need to have this tumor removed immediately, I know of an excellent surgeon that has performed many procedures, I’ll have the front desk make the appointment”
“Ok, that’s fine” I replied stunned, I looked down my PDA and saw the time; I made a remark that I wouldn’t be too late for work.
“Your going to back work?” he replied, shocked.
“Yes… what else should I do?”
That’s how I handle stressful situations; I would keep busy so I wouldn’t have to think about it.
Thinking is bad in these situations.
After the front desk made the appointment for the surgical consult I went outside, which in early January happened to be the coldest day to the year. I called my friend to tell her what happened.
Funny thing is, I just started this job in New Jersey back in Late August and just past the probation period, and I now have health insurance.

It couldn’t have come at a better time.

The website on colon cancer for the Latino community

The odyssey begins…

October 11, 2009

I was born in Spanish Harlem…

Just kidding.

My journey started out innocently enough, during a doctor’s visit a blood test reveled that I was anemic so my doctor followed up with a plethora of additional tests of everything under the sun, more blood work, and other samples which shall remain nameless but one could use their imagination.
While waiting for the results of these tests and consequently the follow-up consult with my doctor I came home one evening and turned the TV on.
This was late August 2008.
Oprah was on.
The show was going to cut to commercial with Oprah’s words “when we come back Dr. Oz will have the poop discussion”.
Dr. Oz is on!! And… he’s going to have what discussion? Did I hear right?
That got my attention.
So I sat down and heard Dr. Oz’s description of “good poop” and “bad poop”.
As he was describing the “bad poop” I realized that I had most… if not all… those symptoms.
Then Dr Oz mentioned that if there is increased frequency in any or all symptoms
to discuss it with your doctor.

Back to my doctor’s office two weeks later, the results of all tests were negative, during that discussion I told my doctor of the Oprah episode with Dr. Oz’s poop discussion and how my symptoms were increasing in frequency. My Doctor suggested I see a Gastroenterologist and she gave me a recommendation and handed me his card; immediately scheduled an appointment.

A month later I’m discussing my symptoms with the Gastroenterologist …to be noted… I didn’t have any bleeding or pain and, although I’m too young to have one – he schedules a Colonoscopy based on the symptoms provided by Dr. Oz. with his poop discussion.
Three weeks later I’m back at the Gastroenterologist’s office having the colonoscopy. I must admit… the hardest part of the exam is the prepping the day before. You had to drink this liquid from a big plastic jug the Dr. gives you, it comes with 4 flavor packets. Everyone I talked to who had the procedure said that the Pineapple flavor is the best – so I mixed the Pineapple flavor with the liquid in the plastic jug and started drinking.
Having the procedure was easy; I was basically knocked out during the whole event.
There I was back in the examination room waiting for the Dr. to come in with the results.
Being that I always eat well (basically a Mediterranean diet) along with an active lifestyle I was expecting a clean bill of health.
Then the Dr. walked in with a concerned look in his eyes with the announcement that he had to stop the procedure due to “an obstruction”.

This was December 31, 2008


       Great animation from The Dr. Oz show
The website on colon cancer for the Latino community