Wouldn’t it be nice to have an answer to detect diseases before they mutate?  I have 3 tips for recognizing the signs of Gardner Syndrome.

  1. Family History. file000100821243

This seems like common sense, but you’d be surprised. Listen to your parents and grandparents talking about their medical challenges and triumphs. There could be something there staring right back at you.

2. Don’t Ignore the lumps and bumps.

I have been growing cysts for as long as I can remember. I was never told what kind of cysts they were: sebaceous, ganglion, etc. It only mattered if it hurt or not. My first one was on my scalp. We believed it was from blunt force when I was 6 or 7 years old misbehaving on some large rocks. When I finally listened to get down before I hurt myself, ironically, I slipped and hit my head off another one (I was a clumsy child, and I think I am slowly outgrowing that).  A sizable cyst grew in its place and we reasoned it aside. It was about an inch long and it protruded from under the skin about half an inch. When I touched it, sometimes it felt soft, and other times really hard. Sometimes I felt like it could move, and other times it really, really hurt to brush my hair. It took me 7 years to finally convince the doctor to remove it.

I had one grow on my mid torso on the side just under the bra strap.  I also had one small one on my breast that would seemingly throb from time to time. Oh! I also had one on my wedding finger. Believe it or not, I proceeded to get several removed at once in the last 3 years. I told the doctor when I was 21 that the one of my wedding finger must be removed otherwise I’d have to request a ring that has the right notch in it to lock it in place. Terrible joke, I know!

While I would like to claim that I am cyst free. I am not. I admit I have since found two more: one on my butt cheek and one on the crown of my head. It seems to be a never ending battle. But sometimes, what is happening on the outside could be worse on the inside.

I was told to get a colonoscopy when I am 25. Interestingly, I learned that polyps tend to form during puberty and diagnosis is typical around 25.

3. Don’t mess with rectal bleeding.tomato

Yet another point that we can ignore. I had blood in my stool, sometimes it was dark and thick, other times it was light and loose from the stool. It was inconsistent. But that should not be the focus. You’re bleeding from a place that should be for fecal matter only, don’t be an idiot and get it checked out. Even if you think it might just be the skin from the tomato
that did not break down, do not ignore it. A colonoscopy could save your life, or at least contribute to proactive measures.

I had rectal bleeding for three months before I got it checked out. I had a rectal exam (that was pleasant), and only got a colonoscopy because I checked into the ER instead of going to my family doctor, and mentioned that Gardner Syndrome is in the family. I received a colonoscopy date 6 months down the road. I then proceeded to move to Ontario 3 days before the colonoscopy, and I delayed the colonoscopy for a year. I reasoned that the bleeding went away, it must have been nothing. But it was still in the back of my mind. I thought I cannot afford to take the 2 days off to do it, and honestly, I did not want to know the result (that is stupid I know, but I am sure I am not the only one out there who thought that). One day I started bleeding again and I just unexpectedly snapped. I went to a walk-in clinic to request a colonoscopy and it is from that moment forward that I am writing today.

I plead with you, do not ignore any of your bodily functions. Take the 2 days off to prep and have the procedure. Work and money is nothing if you are sick or dead. Work can wait.

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