Butt poke

So the blog has been pretty quiet... partly because I have been busy, but mostly because I have contemplating many things... and have been trying to decide how I would handle the diagnosis of colon cancer... if I got one...
Cancer... is something that is so scary for me... terrifying if truth be told... In my head, for me, when it comes to cancer it's not if, it's when... people's reactions when I say that vary, but more often than not it involves a bit of a head tilt and encouragement that I shouldn't sentence myself like that... but people don't get it... I think when they hear me say that they view me as a morbid person... one of the nurse's today gave me that live each day to the fullest speech (I'll get more into that in a minute.) she included that I should not let my fear of cancer take over my life.  It doesn't take over my life or my thought process, but it is also never absent... I had a colonoscopy today... and part of the preparation, (not the shitting part) was to complete a lot of paperwork... much of the paperwork involved providing family histories, specific to cancer... the number of yeses I had to circle did nothing to reduce my anxiety... does anyone in your family have or has had: Breast cancer? Yes.  Colon cancer? yes.  Brain Cancer? No (not genetically, but one of my uncles, yes..)  Kidney cancer? YES, that's the cancer that murdered my mother.  Ovarian/cervical cancer? Yes.  And there was a place to put other cancers... and I listed the gastro intestinal stromal tumor that killed Mom's mom.. so... should I be worried about cancer? For damn sure I should.  So... why the colonoscopy? well... A few reasons... One being that I was having some minor symptoms (so minor my primary care doctor pretty much told me that it was not cancer), and because mom was so young when she had her colon cancer and colon resection.. and because one of the teachers on my staff was diagnosed this summer with stage 2 colon cancer (with no family history)... And I decided to talk to my doctor about it.  My doctor is sweet and she knows how crazy I get with my cancer paranoia... and she said we should do the colonoscopy... (We? of course there is no we in that process, but I got what she was saying.)
Originally I was scheduled to have the butt poke on September 9th, but the week before they called to tell me they needed to reschedule it... which sent my anxiety even higher.  So... today was the day... over a month since seeing my primary care doc... a month of sleepless nights...  thinking the worse.. wondering how I would keep a cancer diagnosis from my family until I had to tell them and how hard it would be to watch my dad's face when he would hear that one of his girls was going to have her own battle with cancer... and I apologize to Dad and Betty for not sharing, until now, that I was having some symptoms... didn't want to worry people...

This is probably a topic for another day, but this has also had me thinking about physician assisted suicide... I am not saying that I would want to off myself as soon as I was diagnosed... but I truly believe that people should have that choice...when things are terminal and when the quality of life is extinguished.  After watching my mom die as she did... it scares the hell out of me... maybe not the dying part, but the part where she lost so much control of things... she had no choice... when her mother was sick, mom worked so hard to help Grammie maintain dignity, simple things.. and we did the same for mom as we knew it was important to her.  I'm not saying Mom would have opted to use physician assisted suicide, but I believe it is important to have that choice.  It's legal in Oregon and Vermont... where I would move if need be depending on the length of residency is described in the laws... With Mom we (me & dad) dispensed the medicine, the morphine, at the end of her life that was given to 'make her comfortable.'   Rationally I know that the cancer killed my mother... but... there is part of me that at times, feels like I did... because I helped give her the morphine doses.  At the time it was a conscious choice to share that task with Dad because I didn't want him to feel like he was killing his wife... I don't think of dad in that way... but for those of us who have been in the situation of using a syringe to put liquid morphine in the mouth of an unconscious person, knowing it will lead to their slow death... it's hard to not feel like there is responsibility in or a role played in the person's death... It would be  unfair for me to put family members in that situation....again...  Would mom have wanted to push a button, herself, to end it? I don't know... but I know she would not want me to feel like I killed her.  And when it is my time... I will have some control.. one way or another... I will have some control... No, that does not mean that I need to see a psychiatrist or that I am suicidal, I am not... it means that I have seen what cancer does and there will be a point in my life...where I will be facing death... and when the quality of my life has no quality... I want to be able to say enough is enough... that would be my choice...  and I am not alone in my thinking... I have talked to people who have similar thoughts... whose thinking has gone down the road further than mine even has... I think Maine needs to get on board...

So... the colonoscopy... the prep...is as bad as people tell you it will be.  As I was sitting on the toilet and without any conscious decision on my part, suddenly there was a sound, like a fire hose spraying into my toilet bowl... on full blast... It really was an out of body experience... yes I recognize the pun in that statement, but it is so true... I had no control...none.. and at times didn't have the sensations I would have expected given what my body was doing... all on its own... without me...  most of the prep involved shitting fluid on an epic scale... but there was also a moment when I had taken the milk of magnesia prescribed and a few minutes later threw that up because of the texture and attempt to plug my nose while swallowing it... so.. after throwing it up, had to take another dose... it was not a fun experience... to say the least... but... there is no doubt in my mind that my digestive system has never been more clear! Fortunately the outbursts slowed down well before I crashed for the night and thankfully I got some good sleep last night... I got up this morning and did the final dosages of things...showered, and tried to mentally prepare myself for the test...

Jacey, sweetly agreed to be my guardian today... and she did a great job.  We arrived to the area I had been told to go to... a waiting room... and I stood at the desk for a bit before other people in the room said I should probably sit and wait as the attendant had gone to lunch.  Gone to lunch? Really? I get that people need lunch breaks, but why would they not have someone replace her to welcome patients? This was not a good start... so we sat... and eventually this lady came in... to  be honest I judged her as someone who was probably cleaning... but she was the attendant... She was loud, came in pointing at people in the waiting room, saying I know you guys, I know you guys, but I do not know you. (pointing at me.)  I told her we had been sitting for a few minutes and she asked my name.  I told her and tried to give her the 5000 page document I had been asked to fill out for this (which I might add NOBODY looked at the entire time I was there.) I did not have to give her my i.d. which I was instructed to bring...did not have to show my insurance card, which I was also told I would need to bring... and they didn't ask for any form of payment...which I was also told I would need... After sitting back down this attendant lady pranced around a bit talking to other people about where their loved ones were...so much for confidentiality... then, after she sat back down loudly said something like.. Wait.. Kimberlee? Who's Kimberlee? I told her it was me and she was flustered because my name on the patient board had changed from gray to pink... and spouted off about something that that color was reserved for people in MACU not some other U... and she marched me over to the nurse's station and asked who had made the mistake... and they all looked at her like she was nuts... and someone took me to another area with a bed.. and the crazy attendant lady came back trying to find out who had done it... at one point I told her that I truly did not care about what color I had been coded that I would like her to leave so that I could get started with this whole thing...the nurse to whom I had been assigned then tried to make small talk, but in doing so revealed she was new and wasn't really familiar with some of the paperwork.. seriously? Another confidence boost.. I told Jacey if I hadn't spent the last two days shitting my ass off I would have left at that point for fear of incompetence... then came the moment to change in to the hospital gown... I asked the nurse for a larger gown and she said she wasn't sure what they had available, she may have one that was bigger, but not longer because they don't have huge ones... Huge? I called her on that... she apologized... and Jacey and I just looked at each other...
Prior to the appointment I had talked with folks at the office of the doc who was going to do the procedure and made it clear I did not want to be awake at all... and was assured I would be out... the nurse who came to give me my happy juice, which I wish had started sooner, insisted I was doing a partial sedation and that I would have some amnesia... Amnesia? Amnesia my ass lady ! I remember it all!  Once I was wheeled into the procedure room the doctor, to whom I had expressed my anxiety, asked why I have so much anxiety.  When I shared my family's cancer filled history (which he had not read from the 5000 pages I had filled out and brought with me...)  his expression changed and he said he understood why I was fearful... which I really appreciated.  He acknowledged my paranoia was legit... and he told the nurse to give me a little extra drugs... but as I said I remember it all... I could feel the scope moving through my colon... not enjoyable... and could hear what they were saying... exactly what I had said I did NOT want to have happen... next time I will work with my primary care doc ahead of time and will go the other route, being knocked out... I wrote down the drug they can use in that situation.  I understand they don't want to put people under unnecessarily so, but had I freaked out and moved during that procedure I think that could have put me at risk of having things torn... which would not be good... during the procedure I heard the doctor say he found a tiny polyp... tiny was better than small, but hearing that at all, was anxiety heightening.  Why do people who are in the medical field ignore the psychological needs of the patients? I get that it is routine for them.. it is not routine for the patient on the table... there is a lot of work people need to do to take better care of patients... I was so absolutely clear with every single medical staff person I spoke with on the phone before today, to my primary care doc, to the nurses and doc today that my anxiety was high, not because they were gonna shove a camera up my ass, but because of the results it could yield... and every person, except my primary care doc, dismissed it... not okay. 
But... I am glad I had it done... the doctor found one tiny polyp which will be analyzed and I hope it is not cancer... my parting gift was that I get to do this again in five years... which I will do... (hoping by then the prep stuff involves pills not milk of magnesia.) 

So..I am hoping I can begin to rest easier... and do encourage people to get the medical screening you need... even if you haven't seen a doctor since.. ohh.. I don't know.. 1983 or so...


A day on the water... higher than normal...

Usually a day on the water, for me, involves my red kayak and a paddle... today, however, I was invited to join some friends on a whale watch.  I debated whether or not I wanted to go, but it was beautiful!  I am so glad I went.  We did see a few whales, from a distance, though I only got a picture that shows part of a whale... it was so beautiful... here are some pictures! 

This boat was called KATAHDIN...which is why I took the pic... the name of My mountain on a boat! 

I took this picture because I was... shaking my head at this couple... who were 'sleeping' on the boat.. seriously? It was gorgeous out and you choose to close your eyes... when the whales were around they were up and perky... apparently for them it is about the destintaion and not about the journey.  

My friends who invited me... the couple I married in July. 

WHALE... or part of one at least..

Yours truly... trying not to squint, but the sun was bright! 

I love loving in Maine!  I am lucky... to be in the better PORTLAND!


Summer... a quick review...

Tomorrow marks the beginning of another school year... I approach it with mixed feelings as I know it also signifies a change of season.  I have done a lot this summer... I guess in the moment I don't feel like I did a lot this summer, but... when I think about it... It started with a trip to the mountain, my only trip this summer as it worked out... I got to see my mountain, unwind, visit with some critters, and just enjoy the beautiful area... The mountain adventure was followed by an amazing trip to Oregon... I loved that trip.. the time I got to spend there with Michael, the opportunity to meet his wife and to enjoy a new favorite summer cocktail, the lemon drop.  I got to see so much of Oregon and got so much time with one of my best friends.  I am lucky.  The trip in and of itself was amazing... but it also reinforced my desire to travel, to see more areas of this country and eventually go international.  I pushed myself to do things I was afraid to do, mainly related to my fear of heights... and had, as I called them, 'near death experiences,' like riding the ski lift to the top of Lady Hood... After Oregon I performed my first gay wedding, my second wedding ever... it is nice to perform a wedding for people you care about.  Then I got the boys for two and  a half weeks... and I feel so lucky to get to see them growing up, becoming who they are... they are amazing people and I am fortunate that they want to come visit.  We had some great adventures including time at the lake with Dad and Betty and a couple of nights in Acadia... then it was back to work... but managed to find some time to get on the water and kayak.  I returned to some of my favorite spots and have also had the chance to try some new spots.   I'm looking forward to more time on the water before it gets too cold to do so.  I am lucky to live in such a great area, it is so beautiful here. 
I have also spent some time this summer dating someone... He uses words like relationship and girlfriend... and I say we have been hanging out and dating... he is a good guy... we have worked hard to build a strong foundation.  He has been joining me on some of my kayaking adventures and keeps asking to go again, so I think he likes it.  It's not easy, this...'relationship' thing... but as I keep telling him... so far so good... I'm not sure where it will go, but it is nice to have someone to do things with. 
I am looking forward to seeing the kids this week... I miss them in the summer.... don't get me wrong... I enjoy the lack of day to day drama, but I do miss them.  I am sad summer is over... but hope it is a great fall! 

Here's to a great school year! 

My Favorite Place

My Favorite Place