Another tune by Billy Joel, aint no fire started,
An unwanted mission lay ahead, took another step towards it
Relief for now, as you shall see,
Trouble was brewin’, but for now I felt relieved.
June 13, 2018
From my initial consultation with Dr. G up to our follow-up appointment a week later I picked up no new symptoms, much to my relief. I continued to put up with my existing symptoms but other than that, life went on. I also took the time to submit a stool sample to a pathology clinic located in nearby Mt Druitt as Dr. G had requested.
Never thought I’d ever have to do one of those but I went with the flow.
I continued to work and train as normal but made sure to note down any strange feelings, if any, that I experienced. Thankfully, there were none. If anything I felt like I was getting fit and strong again and regaining whatever muscle mass and fitness I may have lost during those two and a half weeks gallivanting around Canada and Alaska with barely a workout session in. During that trip I threw myself into full holiday mode, including eating like a pig, and yet I still somehow lost weight. Must have been from all the walking.
My mother accompanied me to the trip to Dr. G’s clinic for our next meeting. Another fifteen minute drive from home was followed by waiting in the lounge for Dr. G to call my name. Not as many patients in the waiting lounge this time around compared to the previous week, mostly elderly patients undergoing routine check-ups and one pregnant lady, staring pensively at the TV screen in front of the room while her young son, all three or four years of him, sat beside her and played with his toys. I wondered how he would handle the idea of sharing his toys with his new younger sibling?
I felt rather confident and upbeat as I sat waiting, relieved that we were taking another step towards healing my body. Plus the much sought-after softer seats near the stairs leading down to the exit had some seating space available due to the relative lack of patients so I got to experience that rather than sitting on the harder chairs in the center of the room, closer to the front desk and the TV that, after a prolonged period, made you feel quite stiff and agitated.
After about twenty minutes Dr. G called my mother and I into her office. My mother and I walked behind her and I took a seat by her desk while my mother sat on one of the other chairs near the window. My mother complimented Dr. G on her outfit and I’m sure that after dealing with patients day in and day out it must have been music to her ears.
It was a bright, sunny day outside, albeit slightly chilly as it was already early winter. Still, I took that sunshine outside as a good omen.
My mother and Dr. G caught up very briefly before we got down to business. Dr. G began our discussion with a typical opening line; “So we took a look at your blood test and stool results…..”
Oh shit, here we go……drum roll, please.
A smile suddenly formed on Dr. G’s countenance, “And I’m glad to say that there is nothing drastic for now.”
I was doing cartwheels in my mind, at least until the ‘for now’ part of her statement belatedly sunk into my thick skull, sending my euphoria into a screeching halt.
‘For now!?’ The fuck does that mean!?
I guess I wasn’t completely out of the woods just yet. Dr. G continued, “You will still need to undergo a colonoscopy to find out what is truly causing your symptoms.”
And there it was again, that dreaded ‘C’ word. In my mind it would be a cold day in hell before I would agree to such a procedure but it was becoming clear that I had no other option left. I was an outlaw on the run, finally cornered at a dead-end by the police and forced to surrender against my will.
Still, my mother breathed a sigh of relief and probably nearly cried, much to Dr. G’s amusement. Looks like her big baby boy would live to fight another day. I was by no means given a clean bill of health but for now, a decent result was a positive distraction and a small victory of sorts. According to Dr. G my hemoglobin levels were still at healthy levels despite me shitting blood for a while now and my stool and urine samples did not reveal anything shocking. My white blood cell count, however, was affected, a sure sign that my body was at war with something within. I guess a colonoscopy would unmask the culprit.
Dr. G’s tone then became serious once more. “While we still don’t know what is causing all that blood in your stools it is most likely colitis,” she said.
My heart sunk in an instant. Ulcerative Colitis was one of the two nasty motherfuckers under the inflammatory bowel disease umbrella, of which the cause is unknown and for which there is still no cure other than to remove the sufferer’s bowel should the disease worsen. It’s meaner, nastier comrade went by the name of Crohn’s Disease.
“Could it be anything else?” my mother inquired.
Dr. G nodded thoughtfully. “Of course,” she responded, “but we won’t know for sure unless he undergoes a colonoscopy,” turning back towards me she noticed that I suddenly had a rather glum look on my face and so she quickly added, “other than that, you’re still in good health so no need to worry too much.”
Good ol’ Dr. G. Always an optimist.
She then printed out a paper copy of my medical results and wrote a referral for a gastroenterologist that she was personal friends with and requested that I book a session with him.
“He’s one of the best in his field and his clinic is not too far from here,” she said, “Try to book the earliest appointment with him possible.”
“And come and visit me in two months’ time so we can take another blood test and see if there are any changes,” Dr. G added, “but if anything happens before then, if you feel that you are getting worse, let me know immediately.”
“Yes, of course.”
It was then that I heard a voice in my mind call me the world’s biggest liar. You’ll find out why soon enough.
And that was that. My mother and I thanked Dr. G for her time before we drove home. I then went straight to the internet and looked up the gastroenterologist that Dr. G had recommended in order to learn more about him. I needed to make sure that this guy was legit and not some phoney masquerading as a professional.
The website for his clinic included the obligatory location and contact details and a photo of his best head shot, but it also included a brief bio on the man and his team and he even had some reviews and testimonials from previous patients on google! These testimonials described a man who was very committed and knowledgeable of his field and had a way of making patients staring down the barrel of some pretty invasive and nerve-wracking procedures feel calm and at ease. He also avoided medical mumbo-jumbo when discussing matters of the health with patients, using language and imagery that they can understand without coming off as condescending.
I was impressed. Damn, this dude is the real deal!
For those who have been following my blog for a while now, I think it’s been somewhat established that I have a phobia of anything related to clinics and medical procedures, which is one of the reasons why, like a damn fool, I didn’t take action until shit hit the fan. Since I was a child the prospect of going to ‘see the doctor’ made me squirm. The thought of people tinkering around with my anatomy in any way shape or form made me uncomfortable and I cringed at the idea of being confined to a hospital, and at the time of these events that hadn’t happened yet and I wished to keep it that way although it was all but becoming an inevitability. These good reviews convinced me that this guy, whom we will meet at a later entry, was for real.
And so the following morning at around 10am I gave his clinic a call and after a brief discussion with his secretary about how much my health insurance would cover I made a booking for an initial consultation. I was told that he was overseas at the moment but that I would get a spot on the earliest possible time, which turned out to be in early August, about a month and a half away. Fine by me, Dr. G wanted me to submit another blood test within two months anyway so at least by that time I could see them both roughly around the same time frame. Besides, the earlier the better. And so I accepted the date immediately.
In the meantime, all I had to do was monitor my symptoms. The bleeding persisted, but I drew comfort from Dr. G’s report that there was nothing seriously wrong with me – for now. I carried on with the hope that it wouldn’t get any worse than this. These symptoms had disappeared before and I didn’t close my mind to the possibility that they’d disappear again, this time for good, even though at this point that was wishful thinking. The symptoms now were worse than they were in April.
Unfortunately, I would soon learn that this was merely the calm before the storm – a storm that was brewing and waiting to unleash all manner of hell upon me.