The Best Day Ever

It was Friday, June 11, 2010.

Wow. What a day, and possibly the best one of my life.

Dr. B came in and removed my bandage, the last one I would have.

A short while later Dr. A, my GP, arrived to tell me that the toxicology reports for the specimens they removed during surgery had all come back negative! No more cancer in the colon and it hadn't spread out into the lymph nodes either. The news literally could not be better. She was nearly as excited as I was when she told me. I guess sometimes the doctors get to deliver some good news too. I almost couldn't believe the words that were coming out of her mouth, and in that way, it didn't feel that different to when I was told I had cancer in the first place. Weird.

Was I cured?

I even had a small bowel movement. Look at me and my bad self! But Dr. A explained that it was more important at that point that I be passing gas, which would indicate all the passages were clear.

OK, so I've been putting this off but we can't avoid the discussion any longer. With respect to my personal journey and healing, the elephant in the room is poo. I will remember it as my year of poo. I am so tired of it, but to have you really understand what it was like, and I'm sure what it's like for so many others who've made this trip, I have to talk about it. And man, there was a lot of it, and I'm going to be talking about it a lot more. So I want to help you, gentle reader, get accustomed to the topic and get over any shock or even 'the giggle factor' when reading about it. As I public service, I humbly provide a compendium of the many names I used for my little friends.

Shit, foof, chocolate hostage, Mr. Hanky, turtle head, corn eyed brown trout, you little bitch, shizzle, Tom Cruise missile, crap, ka-ka, toilet twinkie, junk, mud bunny, bootycakes, colon cobra, ass monkey, root beer float, product of Uranus, dung, monkey tail, Bob Dylan, ass flakes, staff meeting, puddin', brown bomb, marbles, guano, merde, crapdillyicious, bun fudge, baby boy, bum brownie, floater, asstronaut, Michael Phelps, tinky winky, feces, ass apple, free cable, drop the kids at the pool, little bo poop, Agent Brown, the fifth Beatle, lawn sausage, butt candy, ass rocket.

And boy the first one after the surgery was difficult. As you get on the clear fluids and then eventually the solid food, it's a real shock to the system, and there's all kinds of bloating and cramping and gurgling. It's gross. But I'll tell you, it's really exciting when it starts happening because you have to take every tiny little victory to heart to keep your spirits up during your recovery.

I had had a bunch of false alarms, but finally on the Saturday I could tell something, um, important was going to happen. I rushed to the bathroom and sat down, and I strained like you wouldn't believe; red in the face, veins popping out of my neck, and I was sure I must be passing a baseball. I broke into a sweat, my vision failed, there was a sound in my ears like waves at the beach and I thought I was about to pass out. Plink. It was about the size of a pea, and it began to dawn on me that I was in for a long, rough ride.

Despite all the good news, the Dr.'s were concerned about my hemoglobin levels. They were 135 pre-surgery (normal), about 105 post surgery and just 85 now. In hindsight, I guess I had lost a lot of blood when my incision was bleeding on that first night. That meant I would need some iron medication to help get the levels back up, but I couldn't start taking them for a while because they tend to constipate you, which is not what we wanted at all.

I had a fever too, although it never got high enough to raise concerns of an infection.

That evening, Dale, Madeline and I toasted to my good health with cranberry juice; it would be many weeks before I could or even wanted to drink any booze.

Things were a little rocky overnight and through the day on Saturday but nothing to be concerned about. After one trip to the bathroom I emerged victorious after passing gas and a cheer arose from Maddy and Dale; that would be the first and last time they would ever cheer my flatulence. It was a beautiful moment.

I had slept well overnight and made my rounds through the ward with a real spring in my step. I was feeling great. I bet I walked around there a hundred times that day. I mean, I was really bloated from eating the solid food again (it had been 7 days since I ate any real food), and I was forcing the stuff down, but I didn't care. I was determined to show enough improvement to be sent home the next day. I pleaded with Dr. B to come back on Sunday to check on me, so he agreed to squeeze me in between his pedicure and caviar tasting at the club. (I kid).

It was a rough night, with lots of trips to the bathroom, but it would turn out to be nothing compared with what was to come.

Sunday morning arrived and Dr. B came by first thing to release me. I got a few instructions from the nurse, signed a bunch of papers, and was wheeled downstairs piled high with all my junk from my stay. Dale was there to greet me at the pickup door and tears filled my eyes as we drove off and I looked back at the hospital.

I choked out, "I hope I never have to go back there again", and turned away from Dale as I cried halfway home.

I was home by 10:30am.

Six days in the hospital. Probably cured. Not bad.

I was a cancer slaying bad-ass.

13 comments:

  1. Hospitals are no place to be when you're sick.

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  3. Mr.. Clement I hope you are still doing well. Your blog could have been written by me if I only had your gift of the written word. :) Your journey mostly is/was the same as mine with a few differences of course since I have had to face this several years after your own battle with colon cancer. The basic path has been mostly the same. I can't tell you how the fact you have been able to inject humor into your account has brightened my spirits and for the first time I have been able to smile and even LOL about this serious event that has touched my life as it has touched yours. I know a positive attitude is one of the things that helps people to heal.
    I was diagnosed In September 2013 with stage 2 colon cancer and had the surgery in Oct. Total resection and now doing 6 mos. of oral chemo, Xeloda. So far so good physically and tolerating the chemo OK, but I still get the fear of " what if it comes back". My lymph node, 35 tested, were clear, other organs clear, and it had not gone completely thru the wall of my colon, my prognosis is much like you described yours. MY oncologist says the chemo is for insurance purposes that it doesn't return, it cuts the chance to 15 to 25 %. My cells were aggressive ones, so hence the chemo. Anyway enough about me.
    You have a gift, you should think about a book, I know your blog must help so many people and I want to extend my appreciation and thanks and the best of wishes for your continued cure.
    Carol, in Alabama.

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    Replies
    1. Hi Carol and thanks for the kind words. It's very gratifying to know it helped you in any way.

      I didn't start writing until about three months after my surgery, which isn't too far from where you are. It takes a while for the smoke to clear doesn't it?

      What do you mean you had a 'total resection'? How much did they remove? (Isn't it funny how a total stranger asks about your colon like this?)

      I'll be pulling for you with the chemo pills. Did they give you a survival percent or anything like that? Based on the all clear for the lymph nodes and other organs I hope it's very high as mine was. I had my second post surgery colonoscopy last July and he told me not to come back for three years. Yippee!

      I understand it takes quite a while for polyps to form and then become tumours, so if you're all clear now you probably don't have too much to worry about, for a while anyway. You'll get used to the uncertainty.

      I don't recall if I wrote about it, but I went for analysis at the genetics clinic and had a bunch of other tests, none of which shed any light on why I got it in the first place. For me, the 'what if it comes back' has receded somewhat, replaced with 'so what do I do differently now?' Part of me wants to go full time broccoli but another part of me thinks what the hell, McDonald's fries with hollandaise for breakfast! One thing that has helped me a great deal is going to yoga, which I'd have never guessed. I don't know if that's your sort of thing, but maybe finding some way to deal with your stress and not internalizing it will help. Yoga specifically helped me because it isn't just exercise but has a mental part to it also. Once I felt better physically I still had a long period of being in a sort of mental and emotional funk. If I can presume to give you any advice, pay attention to this part of your healing too. I can't tell you how, but keep searching until you find something that helps.

      Thanks again for you kind note. I'd be happy to hear from you again as your healing progresses.

      Cheers,

      P

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  4. Carol from AlabamaFebruary 5, 2014 at 8:00 PM

    Paul, it occurred to me after I sent my comment, that when I said "total resection" was not the best choice of words. My doctor removed a foot of my colon.
    Thank you for the advice about the mental and emotional part of healing, you are so right. I have some days that are OK but then I have others where I sorta get into a dark place with the "What ifs" I am working on it though. My oncologist says the chemo reduces my possibility to 15 to 25 % recurrence. My husband says focus on the flip side of those percentages, 75 to 85% it will not return.
    I too had some tests checking for certain gene markers, though I couldn't say what they were, except the test results showed no "mutations" Welp that is one good thing to hang my hat on, I am not a mutant!LOL

    I am so glad your colonoscopies have been clear and wow not to have to go again for 3 years! :)
    I will keep you in my prayers and you are in my book marked favorites. :)

    I'll keep you posted.
    Carol from Bama

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  5. Hey Paul,
    Carol from Bama here... How are you doing? I hope you are well and cancer free, now and forever.
    I finished up my chemo treatments a few weeks ago and my oncologist says I did well. I had a few side effects that we dealt with, and had to adjust the meds down a bit, but all in all I feel so fortunate and blessed. I did have to have a Flex-Sig because of some bleeding but it was determined it was a fissure induced by the chemo and my colon was clear. I am now waiting to have a Cat scan next Monday
    and my doctor thinks it will be fine, but of course I am anxious anyway. Everything points to a good report, but I won't know for sure until July 14 when I see my oncologist again. I hate the waiting...
    Another blessing is that after the Flex-Sig, I don't have to have another colonoscopy for another year. :)
    I will keep you in my prayers, and I hope that no additions to your blog means that you are healthy and involved with many good things in your life and haven't had time to post and update on your journey.
    Well, take care and if you would please remember me in your prayers too I sure would appreciate it.
    Take care,
    Carol from Bama

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for staying in touch Carol. I'm sure the chemo was a trial, but I am so pleased to hear the positive result and that you can look forward to some relief from it all. Good luck on Monday with the CAT.
      I am not a praying man but you definitely have all my very best wishes and hopes.
      Yes, all is well here and I am enjoying life and our hot summer, after a long cold winter.
      Very best regards
      Paul

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  6. Hi Paul, I am also the one who fought with the disease and recovered successfully by the blessing of almighty. I am diagnosed with the cancer in January and I was depressed thinking about my children and husband. I was admitted to CSCS in Australia( http://colorectal-surgeon.com.au/) . I got good treatment and was able to recover faster.

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  7. The past 4 years of my life has been years of torment right from when i was diagnosed with breast cancer (triple negative) stage IV. It was hard for me because i never in my life imagined i would have anything related to cancer. The first two years my oncologist gave me so much hope that i had to undergo chemo and radiation therapy twice and the lymph nodes were still there. It kept reoccurring and i was about to lose it all. I lost weight and i had high blood pressure due to steady thinking. I got the contact of Dr. Roland whom i was told treats cancer naturally with herbal medicine, i never believed but i was dying and to satisfy my curiosity i had to invite him over and he came with his medicine and began to treat me for a month. In three months time i didn't feel any symptoms and i decided to confirm and i went to my oncologist for a test and i tested negative to cancer. I never believed in herbal methods or treatments but now i do because it saved me. You too can contact him for more info on any form of cancer and also about his medicine and treatment process on (dr.rolandoscar@gmail.com) do not die in ignorance and never give up hope.

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  8. I had absolutely no symptoms or warnings that I had cancer. In March 2007 I suddenly felt like I had diarrhea but it was all blood and I went to the ER. I bled profusely through the rectum for an hour or so until they got it stopped. The doctor did a colonoscopy and found a stage II cancer, i was devastated when my doctor broke the sad news to me because i thought that was the end for me because i have heard so much news about how cancer have stolen away the lives of patients. With time i developed a 'belly' when all my life my abdomen was flat. I was still in my search for a cure after undergoing chemo and radiation thrice Until a friend of mine directed me to doctor Amber and advised me to try alternative medicine, which i did because then my doctor was no longer helpful at all and i had given up on myself. I got the herbal medicine which was relatively small in size, which i took for 10 weeks. For the past two and half years, I have had two additional colonoscopies and two CT scans, plus blood tests. So far, no recurrence, i am indeed really grafeful to GOD and Dr.Amber who stood by me and made all this happen through his medicine. Never give up hope and if you find yourself in the situation i was some years ago you can also contact him too via his personal email drambermurray@gmail.com

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  9. Wow this is great great article for me.

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