Caught in the rain but hardly dancing,
Can’t risk blacking out, still low on haemoglobin,
Here it comes, another key player on the team,
The myth, the legend, the man himself, the great Dr. B!
August 2, 2018
In the following days after my return home from the hospital I felt as though I was well on the mend, a far cry from the previous week where I felt listless and would come close to passing out whenever I over-exerted myself. My feet were no longer swollen and my appetite had returned to normal and when I weighed myself during this period the scales read 54kg, a two kilogram gain.
Not bad, not bad at all.
But I was still shitting out blood and still considered to be anaemic, so despite the positive signs there remained a pall hanging over my head.
My parents both took the day off from work on the day that I had my long-awaited initial consultation with the gastroenterologist, the man who would be instrumental to my eventual recovery. His clinic was located in the heart of a mini central business district not far from home populated by business parks and company buildings. I’d assume that driving through this area during peak-hours would be horrendous, the perfect testing ground for car horns and a hot spot for road rage incidents.
My father accompanied me during that fifteen to twenty minute drive for my appointment. Dr. B’s clinic was on the second floor of a rather tall tower that housed other businesses, ranging from other healthcare centers to financial companies. As my father and I walked down a rather long hallway leading up to the clinic I kept my eye out for the nearest men’s room in case of an emergency while waiting for my session. Ever since I went through that unfortunate phase of my pre-hospitalized suffering it had become a habit for me to find the nearest restroom in case I was attacked by an uncontrollable need to empty my bowels. I found it near the exit.
My father immediately took a seat in the waiting room while I approached the receptionist and confirmed my attendance. She also gave me a couple of forms to complete that involved questions regarding my personal details and health history. The clinic was clean and well-lit and the lady behind the front desk was approachable and laid-back. Dr. B sure did know how to pick his staff.
“Ok, please take a seat in the waiting room and fill out that form, Dr. B will be with you shortly.”
I took a seat next to my father in the waiting room, a small room with a multi-colored carpet covering the floor and a big screen TV mounted on the wall at the front of the room showing the morning news. There was also a small space in the back corner for children to play and color in pictures and some of their artworks were on display in the back wall.
After about ten minutes of waiting, shortly after I finished that questionnaire, I suddenly felt that dreaded urge again. Oh boy, I hope this won’t eat into my appointment, it would be two months of waiting down the drain if I missed my shot!
“I’ll be right back,” I told Pop before rushing out of the waiting room, down the hall and into the men’s room.
I did my business as quickly as I could before rushing back into the waiting room, hoping that I wouldn’t pass out as I was still anaemic and had lost more blood. Man, I’ll be glad to finally get a diagnosis for this damn thing.
“Are you ok?” asked Dad.
“Yeah. Did he call me?”
“He hasn’t come in yet.”
I didn’t have to wait long as Dr. B walked into the room three minutes later and called my name.
Dr. B’s office was one befitting that of a man of his accomplishments. He sat behind a rather wide, dark, wooden desk piled with different cards with information on various bowel and digestive disorders, a model of the digestive system sat not too far from the patient’s side of the table and on the wall behind him hung the obligatory framed qualifications and awards. His computer and phone sat immediately in front of him and photos of his family and one of those ‘World’s Best Dad’ mugs were not too far away. Like his comrade Dr. G his office had a massive window with a great view outside, although I would say that the view outside his office was more grandiose than that of Dr. G’s. While Dr. G’s office overlooked an open green space, Dr. B’s office overlooked the landscape of a neighboring suburb, giving one a panoramic view of rooftops, roads, gardens, green hills and plains.
Damn, this guy is a real boss!
As for the man himself, he looked to be in his early to mid-forties, was of Middle-Eastern descent and had a slim build and a friendly face framed by a dark beard. He spoke in a relaxed and calming manner, the type who can put a nervous patient at ease.
“How are you today?” he asked.
“I’m good, thank you.”
“Ok, take a seat and let’s get right into it.”
I took a seat opposite him while my father took a seat on one of the guest’s chairs on the side of the room.
“So, what can I help you with?”
And from there I took a deep breath and recounted the past five months to Dr. B as best as I could, from the initial symptoms, then the brief moment of victory during the trip to Canada and Alaska before segueing over to the vengeful return of those symptoms and the descent into a very dark place that still hurts to talk about. I also informed him that I was anaemic and had undergone a blood transfusion during the past weekend and that I had suffered from the bout of the flu shortly before all hell broke loose.
Quite a journey, huh?
Dr. B listened intently as I spoke, remaining stoic for the most part but there appeared to be a look of confusion on his face. I guess my symptoms had a level of inconsistency to them. While I did feel the usual symptoms indicative of Inflammatory Bowel Disease and/or Irritable Bowel Syndrome he was somewhat mystified over the way my symptoms suddenly disappeared during those two weeks overseas. Also, any cramps that I felt only manifested during those couple of weeks while I was battling the flu and gradually eased, I never found myself in a situation where my stomach cramped badly in between sessions on the porcelain throne. Apparently most IBD / IBS patients complained of persistent, painful cramps that, at times, left them in so much pain that they were unable to move, as though they were continually being stabbed in the stomach. Me? I worked out and continued to teach at the Wing Chun Academy up until I became anaemic. I didn’t feel any pain unless I was sitting on the can. The bloody stools seemed to be the only consistent symptom that had plagued me.
“Right,” he finally replied calmly, masking any sense of feeling overwhelmed if such was the case, “how much blood do you think you are losing whenever you go?”
I recited to him the same line I told the nurse during my stay in the hospital. “Not sure, but it can’t be much since I hear it dripping out rather than pouring out like a waterfall.”
“Is the blood separate from your stools?”
“I’m pretty sure it is,” I responded. Like I said in a previous post, the results mainly looked like red wine with bits of chocolate in them. The blood and stools appeared to be separate. Again, sorry to any sommeliers out there for the mental picture and an apology to chocolate lovers, too.
“Ok, so it’s only a bit of blood, is it?”
Here it comes, the denial; “Pretty sure it is, although a few drops can spread out and render the water in the bowl red so it looks as though a lot of blood was spilled.”
Man, I can’t believe he bought that shit. I guess he can only go by what I was saying since he never personally saw the aftermath.
“And did you feel any cramps when you weren’t in the toilet? Do you feel any cramps now?”
“No, I don’t.”
He then offered me a glimmer of hope that brightened up the overall mood in the room after having veered towards somewhere less cheery.
“Based on what you’ve told me there is a possibility that you could be afflicted by Inflammatory Bowel Disease, but if these symptoms worsened while you were ill and had tapered off slightly since then there might be a chance that the flu played a bigger role in the anaemia, the cramps and all that than anything in your bowels.”
He made sure to emphasize the word ‘might’. Still, that sounded pretty darn good to me!
“So it could be something less severe like haemorrhoids?”
“It’s a possibility that I wouldn’t completely rule out.”
Man, full credit to Dr. G for introducing me to this guy. He had an open mind and was willing even to explore all scenarios rather than jumping straight into the doom and gloom.
Dr. B then turned towards his computer and began typing away, making a booking for my colonoscopy.
“The only way we’ll be able to get an official diagnosis is through a colonoscopy,” he said, “let’s see which dates are available…..”
My father and I gave each other a thumbs up as he typed away. It may not be all that severe after all. Dr. B then turned his attention back towards us.
“Ok, I can book you in for this Monday or next Friday.”
Damn, looks like this will actually be happening. Shit just got real!
In my mind I immediately decided to go with the later date. I finally wanted to get to the bottom of these symptoms (no pun intended) but I wasn’t exactly in a hurry to undergo such an invasive procedure. The thought of it still made me feel uneasy.
My father, however, had other ideas.
“Take the earlier date, Son,” he whispered towards me, “the sooner the better.”
He was right. I was still anaemic and delaying this could see me rushed straight back into the hospital and I was determined not to have to do a sequel of the events of the previous weekend.
“We’ll take the Monday option,” I sighed.
That’s four days from today. Oh boy……
Dr. B locked in the date on his computer before printing out some sheets for me that confirmed the date and also included some notes on what to expect before and after the procedure.
“Ok, you’re booked in for Monday morning,” said Dr. B, “you can still eat as normal for the rest of the day and tomorrow but come Saturday you will need to start preparing for the colonoscopy. The receptionist outside will give you a package that contains the formula you will need to drink in order to clean out your bowels as well as a list of what you can and cannot eat and drink during the cleansing process.”
Great. Another two days of restrictive eating.
“Ok,” I finally replied after wrapping my head around the fact that this thing was happening sooner than I thought.
“In the meantime, take it easy,” he added, “you’ll be alright.”
We stood up and my father and I shook hands with him to end the appointment.
“See you soon,” said Dr. B.
“Yep, see you then.”
Dr. B kindly escorted my father and I from his office and I lined up again behind the front desk while Dad waited outside. The receptionist was busy with an elderly couple with the wife inquiring about her own upcoming colonoscopy. After they had walked over to the waiting room I gave the receptionist my answers to the questionnaire that I filled out earlier and she gave me a box that contained sachets of the formula that would empty my bowels as well as a list of instructions on how to take them. Included was also a list of dietary do’s and don’ts that I had to adhere to and I read over that list during the drive home.
Oooohhhh hell no!!!
For a man that liked to keep himself in tip top shape it was difficult to read. Wholegrains, fruits and vegetables, typical staples of my diet, were out and for two days I had to subsist on white carbs, meat, liquids and not much else. You see, the dieat that I had to stick to prior to the colonoscopy was a low fiber one to keep my bowel calm as it was being prepped for the procedure.
Oh yeah, and since I was booked for Monday morning I was prohibited from eating solids from Sunday mid-day until after the procedure. I would have to subsist on the formula plus soups and liquids for the rest of the day. And during the hours before the surgery I wasn’t allowed to eat or drink, period. Not even a sip of water.
By the time I finished reading through that list I had the same look on my face as a man that had just been robbed of his whole life savings. This was a whole new level of bullshit that, though expected, I wasn’t prepared to accept.
“Don’t worry, son,” said Pops, “it’s only for a couple of days.”
He was right about that but I’d be lying if I said that it wasn’t a couple of days too many. But if this is what it was going to take to finally reveal the cause of my maladies over the past few months then so be it.
In the meantime, I had the rest of this day and the next to pig out on whatever I wanted before the special diet began. And I had every intention of making the most of those two days.