It’s October 2016, it’s a cold fall day, the air is crisp and the leaves are dashing every-which-way in the light breeze. I am at a colonoscopy clinic in Ontario, and I am just coming to. I hear monitors beeping and two male voices talking, I recognize one as the Endoscopist. My mind is fuzzy as I hear the words, “complete removal” but I am not sure if those were the exact words I heard, let alone if they were talking about me.
I am not sure how much time passed in between, but I was sitting upright drinking some water or juice, I cannot remember. The Endoscopist approached the nurse behind the curtain with an urgent voice asking if I was awake.
The curtain whips open.
It was a flurry of information and it was difficult to comprehend what he was saying through his thick accent. “Your colonoscopy procedure went well, and I have a prognosis. I will refer you to a surgeon and you will need surgery.”
Whoa, wait now. Back up that bus. Here is your life sentence in ten words or less.
“Excuse me?” I manage to mumble. I felt like I was drunk, but I knew I was not dreaming.
“I have a prognosis that you have polyposis coli.”
“Polyposis Coli,” he repeated again with patience, but I was still not understanding him. We went back and forth like this a good three or more times. I wanted to be sure I would remember what he was saying in my fuzzy state, knowing I would not see a report. Polyposis Coli, sounds like bacterial disease effecting my colon. I took brief comfort in the fact that it did not sound anything like Gardner Syndrome, a known disease in my family – my father has it.
I remember the Endoscopist’s face looking distraught, and his voice was stern. He repeated to me several times that he will refer me to a surgeon because, direct quote, “your colon is completely full of polyps.”
“I want to make sure I am not mishearing you. Your definition of full is different than mine. Do you mean ‘full’ like the glass is overflowing with water?”
“Yes, your colon is full of polyps, there are too many to remove. You must go to a surgeon and have a surgery immediately.”
Well, hold the phone there. I interrogated him then, demanding to know more. What surgeries? How invasive? Of course, he patted my knee and said he could not comment on any further action as it would be up to the qualified surgeon. Sure, I should respect that.
My knees were knocking and my hands were shaking, as I departed the secured area and entered the waiting area where my best friend was sitting. I choke to her that it is time to go and she is in a flurry wondering what I was told, detecting that I was acting strangely.
I tell her.
This was the moment that Gardner Syndrome was detected. It started out as a little bit of blood in my stool, similar to what you would see (TMI warning) when you wipe yourself when you are on your monthly (and I know men will not understand that). The colour of red varied from light to very dark, and from weaving throughout the stool to completely detached and seemingly unrelated. Sometimes it hurt to defecate, like I was constipated, other times not. I knew that bleeding from my rectum is never something that you should take lightly. So, off I went to get it checked out.
Naturally, I Googled Polyposis Coli and was distraught when I read that it was the parent disease of Gardner Syndrome. Contrary to what I read, I held onto that shred of hope that I do not have Gardner Sydrome, I just have a bunch of polyps that will be taken care of in a non-invasive surgery.
Naivety is devastating.