- Diseases, Disorders & Conditions
Free tattoo with suspected diagnosis of colon cancer!
That's right. Up the bunghole
You read it right. Make no mistake about it. I did indeed get a tattoo in the place where the sun never shines. Yeah. That one. Tattoos are meant to be seen, so why in the world would anyone get a tattoo on the inside of their.... (OK, just spit it out.....) colon, and what's more, what kind of a tattoo parlour would do such a thing and how would they do it?
You won't find these people in the yellow pages under "tattoos" or at some sleazy strip mall or seaside drunken sailor establishment, but believe me there are a raft of qualified professionals in every major town who will be happy to tattoo your colon for you if the situation warrants it.
It's not a fashion statement
I hit the age where it's recommended to get a colonoscopy, and that age is younger than normal (50) for me because I have a younger sister who had colon cancer at the ripe old age of 35. I came to get my colon tattoo because my colonoscopy results were precisely what you don't want to hear.
I woke up from the procedure unaware that it had happened. Not even a twinge. I had somewhat expected to have a sore orifice but otherwise go out and have something to eat and get on with my day. I would have taken a week with a raw and bleeding bunghole over what I heard next:
"Ummmm... you have a very large and most likely cancerous polyp in the splenic flexture (the bend in the colon on the left side.) It is too large to remove with the endoscopic snare (the tool they use to snip small polyps). You will need to have a bowel resection at the earliest possible date. The surgeon will call you to schedule a preop appointment and get you on the surgery calendar."
Then they proceeded to show me a picture of this thing they had taken during their visit. I had to laugh at the thing despite my shock. It looked like male genitalia. HA HA SUCKERS! I FINALLY GREW ONE I was thinking in my irrational and drug induced stupor.
When the nice mellow drugs wore off, I got busy and Googled. I looked at pictures. I read up on the procedure. Mindful of how easy and painless the colonoscopy was I thought it would be infinitely easier on me if there was some kind of roto-rooter they could just put up my ass and scrape it out and spare me the pain of being cut open. My paranoia and suspicion of the whole screwed up USA pharmo-medical miscagenation caused me to seek out a second opinion. But the more I read up on it, the more I realized that there was really no choice. Maybe natural cancer curing methods can clear a few odd cancer cells in the body here and there but I wasn't going to chance that on a large actively growing polyp. Even if the thing wasn't already cancerous and never became cancerous, it would eventually create an obstruction, and then I would be up shit creek (or more precisely shit creek would be up me.)
The shocks continue
My family doctor called ME. When does THAT ever happen? He said he could make time for me to come in and discuss this with him. Normally it's about 2 months to get an appointment with him. Only people who are going to die get treated that nicely. Ay ay ay!
I also had my appointment with the surgeon -- a complete stranger in whom I was going to place my absolute trust with a variety of sharp objects. Your body doesn't know the difference between what these guys do and what might happen if you walked in the wrong part of town at night. Regardless of who wields the blade, surgery is still a brutal assault with a number of potentially deadly weapons--both those that cut and those that alter your chemistry. It's just that they have a license and they have protocols so you don't die--at least not usually. Small consolation at that moment. I was a surgery virgin. I had never been cut before and that was just fine with me. My imagination was working overtime. My skin was crawling. I felt sick to my stomach. The nurse arrived to take my blood pressure, which is normally just fine. I could FEEL my heart racing. I told her not to even bother, that under the circumstances it would give a false and totally atypical result. She took it anyway. It was off the charts.
I had 2 pages typewritten of questions to ask the surgeon. It was then that I found out about the tattoo. One of my questions was "How do you know where to cut?" They said that was easy, they looked for the black marks.
Yes, the endoscopist tattooed the inside of your colon where the cancer is, and the ink stains all the way through to the outside so we can see it. The tattoo is pretty permanent, actually, but so what? We're going to cut it out.
I had not failed to notice how easily he said "cancer" instead of "polyp". "Polyp" sounds sort of warm and fuzzy, kind of like "smurf" or "tele-tubby." "Cancer" sounds evil like "Green Goblin."
"You said C-c-c-cancer," I remarked.
"Yeah, I'm pretty convinced that polyp has cancer in it. It's just a question of whether it's gotten out or not.
I was in for yet another shock.
"Oh, by the way", the surgeon said casually. "If your spleen turns out to be involved we'll take it out too."
I had visions of them taking out my various innards one by one and tossing them in a pot on the floor for dog food.
"Nope, this thingamajiggie is no good either. Mmmmmm. My dog is gonna eat good tonight."
I was gripped by that terrifying image and I missed the next thing the surgeon said.
"I'm sorry, could you repeat that?" I stammered.
"Oh, I just said depending on the stage of the cancer, you may need chemo afterward."
CHEMO -- that's where they pump toxic substances into your body every two weeks for six months in the hope of killing the cancer. If you don't die from it you wish you could.
"No way am I getting Chemo," I said reflexively. "Not going there. No way, No how." I was thinking, Ding Ding Ding..... this sounds like a major upsell and I ain't buying.
"Well, we'll just take it one step at a time," said my surgeon, who I just met 20 minutes ago. And that was that.
I'm not a particularly pious person but I thought it would be a good idea to head off to confession, and while I was there I requested last rites AKA "sacrament of the sick" just for good measure. There's no penalty if you don't die, and you're allowed to do it again. That was the first time in my life I had ever felt the need for that particular sacrament.
A raft of other bloodwork, some cancelled appointments, and a gallon of the most GOD AWFUL stuff known to man later, I was ready for surgery.
.....continued in Part II