As my children grow up I find myself using some of their phrases to describe things and "dodging a bullet" really does describe what happened to me recently.
|aaah - the wisdom of Yoda...|
When you are a full time parent carer life tends to revolve around the health needs of your child, or in my case children - together with Daisy's ever increasing care needs, IV infusions, TPN, painmanagement regimen, catheters, infections, fluid balance issues, mobility issues etc etc, I am also trying to sort out Theo's allergy issues and support him and the other two children as they transition into a new school year. So aches and pains that I feel myself are normally ignored, I do long for the days when I could indulge myself in a duvet day when I had a cold, reading magazines and drinking lemsip. There's an old acting phrase that Andy (a former professional actor) used to use "Dr Theatre will get you through love", in other words, grin and bear it.
But sometimes in our mission to make sure that we are holding it together for everyone, we carers can take this stoicism too far. I had been having a nagging tummy ache and cramps for a a few months and I am also going to fess up and say that I had a bit of bleeding which I put down to haemorrhoids, the bane of any woman who has had multiple births. I put all this down to stress, running, food allergies anything to just explain things and avoid any time consuming tests and trips to the doctor.
But a niggling voice in the back of my head said "go to the doctor", so eventually I did, and she referred me to a specialist, who said I needed an urgent colonoscopy. But of course, because it was the school holidays I had to fit it around children and Andy's work schedule, and several weeks elapsed. I went to the hospital on the day of the colonoscopy, having put it all out of my mind, feeling a bit of a fraud, it was probably just a stress reaction, it would be nothing.
But it wasn't. My scope showed I had multiple polyps in my bowel, some of which were bleeding. The surgeon removed them all but he told me that over the years there was a high probability that one of them would have turned malignant. Not only did I have polyps, he found I have diverticular disease , an area of inflammation and to cap it all, a small hernia where I had previously had a caesarian to deliver Daisy.
100% dodged a bullet. A complete wake up call to take more care of myself and not ignore symptoms. As if I needed a wake up call - bowel cancer is in my family. My dad died of bowel cancer probably caused by a polyp that had turned malignant.
The plan for me is to be very aware of any further changes and repeat scopes in 3 years. I could have the hernia repaired but the recovery period is at least 2 months and absolutely no lifting - what mother, let alone one with a special needs child can get away with not lifting for 2 months. So we agreed on plan B as the surgeon did not think that the hernia is that big a risk - instead my underwear of choice from now on will be Bridget Jones knickers - nice!
Talking about colonoscopies and haemorrhoids and big knickers is not very British, we just don't talk about such personal things and soldier on keeping it all under wraps.
But I'm going public on what happened to me as a wake up call to all of you. This is a plea to all my friends but especially those who are carers - Don't ignore your symptoms, look after yourselves, look after your backs when you lift (engage that core!), don't let colds turn into chest infections because you kept missing your asthma checks (hands up again - I recently had to have a course of steroids for a bad chest infection which aggravated my asthma), don't miss your dentist appointments, eye tests, smear tests and don't be embarrassed to go to your doctor when something is amiss down below. Because you may not be as lucky as me at dodging those bullets.