It was at 2pm Thursday that Dr. David first uttered the “C” word to me. In a matter of fact, yet positive tone he told me they had found a 5 centimeter tumor in my colon.
It had been a whirlwind twenty-four hours. After having visited the doctor on Tuesday afternoon for a pain in my side that I suspected was appendicitis, I was set up for a physical at 8am and a CT scan for 11am on Wednesday morning.
By noon Dr Johnson, my doctor whom I have yet to meet – I have only met his nurse practitioners - was on the phone telling me he had received an unprecedented call from the radiologist, another anonymous figure I have yet me to meet, who said that the CT scan showed an abnormal thickness in the colon. He told me he was trying to get in touch with Gastroenterologist Dr Schwartz to see if he could squeeze me in for a colonoscopy.
I had just left the radiology lab and grabbed a fast salad and was on my way to work.
Fifteen minutes later I received a second call from Dr. Johnson informing me to immediately return to the radiology lab, pick up my “pictures,” and head over to the office of Dr Laura Champagne – one of the two best surgeons in all of the state he assured informed me.
I met with Dr Champagne, whom I had been forewarned appeared much too young to be a surgeon, and she reviewed the pictures from the CT scan, attempting to describe to me what we were seeing.
She first pointed out my liver, nonchalantly saying their were a couple of spots on it. She then moved on to my appendix and explained that it appeared enflamed or aggravated, and then she saw the tumor in my colon.
It had been less than three hours since I had laid down for the CT scan and Dr Champagne turned to me and told me she wanted to admit me to the hospital.
At first I didn’t think I heard her right and I remember asking, “you mean like now” to which her reply was, “as soon as I can get you a bed at the hospital.”
We walked out of the examination room and into the hallway. She was on her cell phone trying to get in touch with Dr. Schwarz to set up a colonoscopy first thing in the AM. She instructed a staff member to call the hospital to get me a bed and for me to go home and prepare to be admitted. Someone from her office would call me when there was a bed available.
Minutes later I was in my car, dumbfounded but upbeat. So much had happened in such a short amount of time I was not able to process it. I texted Fettit that I had colon cancer and was being admitted to the hospital and his reply was “Oh Dear.”
I returned to the house and started making telephone calls to family and friends letting them know I was being admitted to the hospital but not 100% certain why. I knew I was having a colonoscopy in the morning but I certainly didn’t need to be in the hospital for the procedure. I recalled Dr. Champagne saying something about a precaution about the appendix but I still didn’t think it was necessary to go to the hospital.
Fettit called an hour later and asked when I was going to the hospital and I told him as soon as he arrived home – although I had not received the call that a room was available for me.
I saw no reason why he couldn’t take me. I wanted to watch the debate and spend the evening with him like I do every night. Just because I was spending the night in the hospital didn’t mean we couldn’t do it together – hospital or no hospital.
Sometime prior to Fettit’s arrival at home I received the call informing me to go to the seventh floor of the hospital and did section D. I was to check in there.
Packing up my laptop, ipod, two books, some underwear, socks and toiletries, we headed off to the hospital a few minutes later.
Fettit, fearing he couldn’t get through the evening debate without his nightly wine, poured some into a Rubbermaid container and along the way we stopped at the Jack-in-the-Box for him to get a large cup of ice.
Arriving at 7D with my backpack full of electronics I looked around and saw that all the room had two beds and I started to panic. I do not like sharing my space with strangers. The thought of having to endure the endless bodily noises of a stranger didn’t sit well with me I could feel my body tightening up knew it wouldn’t be long until something came out of my mouth I would regret.
As I walked up to the nurse’s station I received several curious glances from the three caregivers at their desks but only one immediately ask if I could be helped. “I am here to check in,” I announced like I was at the front desk of a hotel.
The quizzical looks continued as they turned to each other in confusion. “You are here to be admitted,” one asked.
“I received a call from my doctor to come to 7D of the hospital and check in, yeah,” I replied.
Just then a nurse walked up and acknowledged that I was expected and a middle aged man behind the counter pointed towards a room and said, “you are in bed one in that room.”
As expected, I told the man that I didn’t want to share a room. “I don’t like people that much,” I told him, to which Fettit concurred, “he really doesn’t like people.”
The man behind the counter looked at me and sneered, “well, no one is making you stay here now are there?”
My response was something along the lines of “Well, I don’t think I really have a choice in being here.”
A mediator intervened immediately and said she would put in a request for a single room if one was available, and showed me to my bed to await admission.
The first thing I did was sit on the bed and pull out my laptop and search for the best Wi-Fi connection but there wasn’t one.
Treating the nurses like staff at a hotel I asked each of them individually as they walked in and out of my room if they had wireless internet. Surprisingly, each acted like they had never received such a question and no one knew if they did or not.
When the nursing assistant came in I tasked her with finding out for me and then dismissed her like she was the household staff. For some reason she never returned.
Fettit made himself at home and quietly sipped his wine and a flurry of hospital staff came and asked questions and checked my vital signs.
The presidential debate started and it was hard to give it my full attention. Fettit must have felt the same and announced an hour into it that he was going home.
I shot him a dirty look, in essence saying “If I have to be here, so do you,” but I knew he was bored and that he didn’t have to be there, other than to keep me from being bored.
It wasn’t long before Liz, the interventionist nurse, came to my room and whispered that she had found me a single room to which I quietly replied, “I love you Liz.”
I moved to a room on the same floor with an entirely new staff and it wasn’t long before I knew I wasn’t checking into a hotel. Everyone that entered my room wanted something from me, and they we often accompanied by needles.
They drew blood and gave me an IV line. My blood pressure was taken for the fifth or sixth time that day and where it had been in the perfect range all day, now at 9pm it was slightly elevated.
Nurse Deserae informed me that she would be coming back soon with the comically misnamed golytle, pronounced “go lightly” and that I wouldn’t be getting much sleep because of it.
She was right.
I started drinking, what tasted like sea water, at 10:20 and laid on the bed for the next one hour and 20 minutes waiting for it to take effect. For the next couple of hours I spent most of my time in my private bathroom thinking, “Thank God they gave me a single room.”
By five the next morning I was sufficiently hungry and exhausted, but cleaned out, and I went downstairs for a cigarette.
At some point in the morning my own personal doctor McDreamy walked into the room and introduced himself as a co-worker of Dr. Champagne’s. He was young, not even 30, and had a beautiful smile but the entire time he was standing next to my bed he didn’t stop touching his crotch.
Fettit came to the hospital prior to going to work. He accompanied me downstairs so I could have a cigarette and it was while on the smoking patio that a wheelchair wielding technician arrived to transport me to my colonoscopy.
The colonoscopy started at 11:00 and by around 12:00 I was waking up. The procedure was not complete though, and I was in the most excruciating pain. I recall yelling in pain a couple of times before it was over. I don’t know if that is typical, for the patient to wake up before the procedure is over, but I have never experienced such pain in all of my life.
On the way back to my room the technician handed me my chart to hold and I asked if there was anything in it yet regarding the colonoscopy, and there was. As he wheeled me to my room I was looking at the pictures of my colon and knew something wasn’t right.
It’s been six days since my diagnosis.