I told myself I wasn’t going to talk about this here. “It’s too private,” I thought, “and it’s entirely too embarrassing and uncomfortable. …no. Fucking. Way.”
But you know what? That’s selfish of me. What if someone out there is afraid like I’ve been? Too embarrassed to see a doctor and talk about what’s going on, too afraid of receiving terrible news. What if someone reads my words and, as a result, looks after his or her own health? It hasn’t been too terribly long since I would have been (genuinely) willing to die before seeing a doctor. Embarrassment and shame do voodoo on the psyche. But I’ve recently got some awesome people in my life (you know who you are, and you know how I feel) – and this community is priceless. Fucking priceless. And you have lifted me up, encouraged me and offered me a world of new perspectives. Shouldn’t I try to do the same?
Shit happens, and the sooner I learn how to roll with it better, the more chill my life will be. And I’m a chill dude, man. It’s one of the few things I like about myself: I’m chill as fuck. So yeah, why not spill my embarrassing health issue – that shouldn’t be embarrassing at all, because it’s the human body and sometimes it fucks up, or we fuck it up – and maybe, just maybe, being candid about it will help someone. The more willing we are to speak openly about the things that scare or embarrass us, the better prepared we will be to move forward and heal. Knowledge is power, but it takes communication to gain that knowledge. Let us communicate.
If you’re squeamish, back away now. Back away. And if you’re not, then you’re about to see another layer to the title I used.
I have a lot of health problems. I’d say each of them is not a big deal, but stacking them all together gives me really bad days sometimes. But I’ve learned to deal, push it out of my mind, compartmentalize the fuck out of things, and keep on keeping on. Granted, I’m not always very good at it, but for the most part I try not to dwell on things.
Lately I’ve been seriously kicking ass. For me. I’ve been on a really good track to improve my life, and I’m getting good feedback and results. Personally, professionally, whatever. I’ve been hesitantly optimistic.
Did I say I’ve been kicking ass? I have been. Fuck it, I’ll own it. I’m nowhere near where I need to be. I’m only just beginning. But we all have to start somewhere.
Only now, my ass is kicking me. Yeah. You read that right. Are you ready? I’ve given more than enough intro, and now I’m just stalling. Let’s go…
My latest health issue started about three weeks ago. Or at least, I think it did. (I’ll explain that part shortly.) I went to the bathroom. I had to, you know………………fuck, I’m so embarrassed. Fuck it. Fuck it. Let’s do this. I had to shit, right? Everyone has to shit. No big deal.
Except, there was blood.
It was only a tiny amount, though. And it was bright red. It’s not the first time that’s happened, so I’ve read about it. It’s a hemorrhoid. Simple, whatever. I pissed the fucker off, and it bled a little. Little bastard. Case dismissed.
Except, it got worse.
Over the course of a week, the tiny bit of blood grew into a small amount of blood, which then grew into a semi-scary amount of blood. Only semi-scary, though. At this point, I knew I should see a doctor. I was semi-scared, for fucks sake. But who the fuck wants to go to their doctor and say, “Yo doc, there’s blood coming out of my asshole! What’s good, homeslice?”
Yeah, not me. So I ignored it and told myself that it would go away. The thing is, you remember that bit I said earlier? That “I think it” started three weeks ago? Yeah. That bit right there. For much longer than that, I’ve been having…problems…going…to the bathroom. It’s either one or the other: I can’t go, and it hurts like a bitch…or it’s like a motherfucking faucet. Either way, I’ve been having severe abdominal cramps. Mhm. So it has occurred to me that whatever this is…could very well have started much longer than three weeks ago. Fuck, I hope not.
Anyway. I fucking ignored it. Because that’s what I do. I stick my head in the sand and pretend the bad shit isn’t happening. And I carry on smiling and laughing and cracking smartass remarks in very poor taste. Because that’s what I do. Deny, deny, deny. And carry on not taking care of myself, dumping shitty (haha that’s punny) food in my body, wallowing in bed and wasting my life away.
And now I’m paying for it. Even if it’s nothing, I’m suffering at the moment, and most likely because of my abuse of my body.
So the next week, you’ll never guess what happened! You’ll never guess! You guessed it, didn’t you? Yeah. Shit got worse. (Heh. I did it again. SHIT got worse. Get it?) It got to the point where I’d have an urge to shit. My body’s telling me I gotta go, and it makes my abdomen rumble and cramp, and it’s urgent. It feels urgent. I go to the bathroom, and what comes pouring out? Shit?
Just. Blood. Copious amounts of blood. And it’s not as brightly colored anymore. It’s still relatively bright, but I tell myself…”just give it a bit more time. This is nothing. It will go away. You’ve just really really pissed Hank off.” (That’s the name of my friend’s asshole, but I’m stealing it.) I pissed Hank off, nothing more. No fucking way will I go to the doctor about this. I’ll fucking bleed to death first.
So the first week, I ignored it as best I could. The second week, I became terrified. The amount of blood filling up the bowl scared me. And it wasn’t bright anymore. I was barely shitting at all. For the most part, when I went to the toilet, it was Only Blood. The third week (this one), I had to start lining my underwear. Yeah. That fucking bad.
Yesterday, I went to the bathroom three times with that problem. Oh. And coupled with the blood loss, I’ve been experiencing significant dizziness, drastically increased fatigue, some disorientation, etc. Very woozy, all the time, and I have little to no appetite.
I called the doctor.
I had made a promise to call the doctor yesterday, and not only did I have to keep it, but I had finally gotten scared enough to seek treatment. The doctor got me in right away. The nurse said she’d call me back..she called me back within five minutes and asked if I could be there in fifteen. I texted my boss and left.
I told the doctor everything. He asked some questions pertaining to pain (location and severity), color of the blood, shitting schedule, etc. After I’d answered all of his questions, he said,
“You need a colonoscopy.”
I cried a little. Just a couple tears, and I practically whispered, “What about other tests first, like a stool sample?” (I’ve been researching…) And he calmly, quietly repeated,
“You need a colonoscopy.”
He sent me across the street to the hospital, to test for anemia. I bypassed admissions, no check in, no paperwork, and went straight to the lab where I was seen ahead of everyone and immediately. I don’t mind saying I cried all the way out of the hospital and all the way home. The urgency did more to scare me than anything else.
I got the results of the blood work today. In a bit of good news, I was told I haven’t gone anemic. Whew.
I have a colonoscopy Tuesday morning. I have to be there at 5 AM. And because of the prep that has to be done beforehand (drinking a tanker truck of vile liquid and subsequently shitting your brains out for hours on end), I’ll have to take both Monday and Tuesday off work.
I’m scared. Yesterday, I was really fucking scared. I shed a lot of tears. And then I got immense encouragement, which I am endlessly grateful for.
Here’s where I’m at now:
It could be lots of things. I could have a tear. I could have irritable bowel disease. I could have Crohn’s (don’t think so on that one). I could have angry polyps or some shit (ha). I could have colon cancer. (I watched one of the most important people in the world to me slowly die of colon cancer. He was diagnosed at 44 and passed away at 46. It wrecked me, and I’ve lived in terror of it ever since.)
Simple or complex, odds are very good that it’s something treatable. In which case, I get it treated, I heed the wake-up call and take better care of myself, and I go on about my life – more mindful than before.
And if it’s terminal, which my mind can’t help but wonder, then that will be alright, too. I’ll sell my house, quit my job, try to raise some funds, and I’ll travel and adventure until I drop dead with a smile on my face.
I can wallow in bed, feeling sorry for myself, or I can live. I choose life, regardless of the test results.
As for today, I’m going to my storage unit after work to pick up my camera. I said I’d do that today. It will be good for me. It will give me more reasons to get out of the house. Go find something beautiful and interesting, photograph it. Get back to what I used to do: finding something beautiful each and every day.
And hopefully some time next week, I’ll find out exactly what’s going on and what the next step is.
If there’s something you’re scared of, something you don’t want to face, especially if it’s something that presents a danger to your mind or body, it’s worth the risk to say something.
The doctor is not going to laugh at you.
Real friends will not laugh at you.
You will be encouraged. You will receive help. You will feel better. And you will know that shame and embarrassment are merely other forms of fear.
You’re worth it. There’s too much left to do. Your story doesn’t end here.
There are mountains to climb, oceans to swim, photographs to take, trains to ride, planes to jump out of, people to embrace, stories to hear, stories to tell, raucous belly laughs at vulgar jokes, souls to touch, music to dance to.
Confide in someone, be encouraged and seek help. Go to the ass doctor. Go to the gynecologist. Go to whatever doctor grabs your nuts and makes you cough. Get a finger stuck up your ass. Have satan’s claws shoved up your ladybits. Seek. Help. Now.
Your story doesn’t end here.
Now let’s dance.