Last week was exhausting.
Per my last blog post, the past 24 days have been spent making phone calls, setting up tests and appointments, etc. Last week, Chris traveled half of the week for work. On Monday, I began something called a Sitz marker study at Aurora St. Luke’s hospital. The test itself is painless and simple, but the lack of pain is compensated by the amount of time spent. Monday morning, before teaching, I went in and swallowed a capsule filled with 24 small white “O rings”. They look shockingly similar to those colorful rubber bands that you make rainbow loom bracelets with…only rainbow loom bracelets made with these rubber bands would be appropriately sized for a hamster. (If you have or are a 6 year old girl, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about here…and if you’re a 6 year old girl who is reading my blog…I want to meet you).
After swallowing these, they take a series of X-rays for 7 consecutive days, in order to “track” their journey through my digestive system (Images of “The Magic School Bus” pop into my mind at this point). Again, other than having to spend about 2 hours total each day to have these done, it’s pretty painless. There was a little confusion on Monday about how many days and how often I needed to come (each doctor does it a little differently), so I ended up skipping Tuesday, which meant that I had 2 X-rays on Monday and then 1 X-ray Wed, Thurs, Fri, Sat, Sun, Mon. (I know this is beginning to sound like one of those elementary school word problems… I was confused, too).
Again, this would not have been a big deal except for the fact that my last bowel clean out (Senekot night) had been on Saturday, and I discovered upon arriving Monday for the test, that I was required to refrain from taking ANY sort of laxative until all 7 X-rays were complete. So, if you do the math, by my last X-ray on Monday, I had gone 9 days without going to the bathroom. And that was the worst part of the test, as you can try to imagine.
I have never been so excited to take my Senekot, as I was on the day of that final X-ray. I was so excited, in fact, that I swallowed them 3 at a time (a new record for me!;)) and then went home and slept, while waiting for the inevitable 6+ hours on the toilet to start. I was concerned about how it might go, because even after 5 days it is unpredictable, but people were praying and all things considered, it was one of my easiest clean outs that I’ve had recently.
The plan after having this test done, was for me to go back into the hospital on October 3rd (next Friday) and have a series of other bowel tests done, after which Dr. Klas would have all the necessary information in order to make a decision and recommendation on how to proceed surgically.
So I was a little surprised when his surgical coordinator called my cell phone yesterday morning, while I was teaching my Fashion Drawing class, and left me a voicemail saying that she wanted to go over my test results with me. My initial thought was, “Oh shoot, I hope she isn’t going to say that everything actually looked pretty normal and so there is no need to do the other tests on Oct. 3rd”. I know this sounds contrary to what I should want her to say, but this last year has been filled with so many medical “dead ends” that this was my way of guarding myself from another disappointing blow.
When I called her back, however, she had the complete opposite to tell me. She said that Dr. Klas had asked her to call and give me a “heads up” that he was a little shocked at how “remarkably abnormal” my X-rays and the entire test was. She said that I swallowed 24 rings on Monday and typically, even for people with lazy colons, they would see those rings move at least a little within that 7 day time period. She said mine did not move at all. She said that Dr. Klas would be talking to me in more detail on Oct. 3rd (as he will be the one doing the tests), but that we should start to think about setting up an appointment for me to speak with one of their ostomy nurses about what life with a colostomy would be like. She said they’d be really helpful in navigating me through the different options, figuring out my unique placement of the opening, answering questions, etc.
She was so kind as she talked to me, and for one of the first times, I heard empathy in her voice. Usually medical conversations are so, well….sterile? But she spoke empathy and it was such a tremendous blessing to my soul. She told me how they have recently had two younger girls with similar, but not as severe, issues as me decide to have the colostomy placed. She said that they have both been amazed at how much relief it’s given them. She also expressed to me how challenging it must be for me, mentally, to “psych myself up” for my bowel clean out every week, especially based on what they saw on the X-rays. I wanted to reach through the phone and BEAR HUG her. YES! Finally, someone (medical) gets it!
Something in my subconscious must have heaved a huge sigh of relief, because I decided to take a nap for an hour before picking Promise up from Kindergarten, and when my phone alarm jolted me out of my sleep, I could tell that I had been in the deepest and hardest sleep that I have experienced since being doped up on Oxycodone following my spine surgery 2 1/2 years ago. As my friend Monique told me in a text, “Never. Underestimate. The. Power. Of. Being. Validated.” to which my friend Claudia (who is a mom of 3 very small boys) responded, ” and Never. Underestimate. The. Power. Of. A. Nap”. Wiser words have never been spoken:)
So I ask for you to continue to pray for wisdom for these doctors, Chris, and myself as we continue to navigate this complicated decision. And please give praise and thanksgiving to God for simple things like how Dr. Klas’ office has been so amazing at following up with me (unprompted by me….that’s HUGE!) and for these very clear test results.
For those of you who are still confused as to whether or not this is good news about the potential colostomy; the answer is a resounding “YES”. While it will/would be a lifestyle adjustment, I am not scared or nervous (at this point). My body is so worn out after spending approximately 1,387 days of my life trying to clean out my nerve damaged colon, which is approximately 8,322 hours of my life spent sitting on the toilet. (It’s amazing for how much I DON’T like math…that I end up using it to prove my points).
I want to close with Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians out of Ephesians 3: 20-21, which is my prayer for myself and for all of you;
“Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.”