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October 2010: Welcome to the Big Time

Posted Oct 01 2010 2:00am
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So, wow, it's November October already. That last sentence was a huge Freudian slip on my part. I understand why--I just finished looking at my calendar for this new month.

Yup, I'm pretty sure I can't wait until this month is over.

You see, I have doctors' appointments every week this month of October. Which, by the way, is a pretty doable schedule, especially since I will have Robert's help for each appointment. If they were all routine follow-ups, I'd say, 'No big deal.'
Except the first two appointments this month are a big deal.

Week One

On Friday, October 8th I have my first routine colonoscopy. I am starting early because my mother died at age 61 from metastatic colon cancer. She had her first colonoscopy at 50 and everything was fine. Then she somehow she never made it back for another one at age 55...

I'll never forget April 13, 1998. It was the day after Easter and a month and a half before my wedding. Robert and I spent the previous day at my parents' home enjoying Easter dinner. She called early the next morning with abdominal pain, needing a ride to an Urgent Care appointment.

After spending several hours in the clinic, they transferred her to the Emergency room. It was there that a scan was performed and the truth revealed. At age 60, she had a large tumor in her colon that had spread to her liver. During surgery the next day, the surgeons discovered so many tumors on her liver that they only counted the largest ones. With stage 4 cancer, her prognosis was not good. She died 11 months later.

Despite my anxiety and fears about this procedure, I am determined not to let this happen to me. It's all about prevention!

Week Two

I'm going down to Orange, California on Thursday, October 14th. My destination is very close to Disneyland, but I won't be visiting Mickey Mouse. Instead, I'm getting some medical tests which might just be the medical equivalent of a roller coaster ride.

I'm visiting the University of California, Irvine Neurology clinic for a consultation in the morning regarding my dysautonomia. Then I am having autonomic testing done in the afternoon (aka the roller coaster ride.) I anticipate that this may include a tilt table test and whatever else they do to diagnose dysautonomia.

The outcome I hope for is better treatment of my dysautonomia symptoms from a doctor who is a true expert in the field.

(Why they don't have a clinic like this at UCLA, I'll never know...)

The Hard Parts

I don't like be sedated, so that part of the colonoscopy for me is anxiety-provoking. Since I have sleep apnea, I'm also concerned about what precautions the medical staff will take to ensure this doesn't complicate things. The prep for the colonoscopy seems like no fun at all and I am worried it will make me physically sick.

My biggest fear about the autonomic testing is passing out. (Yeah, I really don't like being unconscious.) I am also realistically worried that the testing will flare me up. Plus chances are I am going to be somewhat sleep deprived that day because of the time of the appointment, which will already make me more symptomatic.

Most of all, the hardest part for me about the next two weeks is overcoming my fears about the unknown.

Plan of Attack

Being a former Girl Scout, I'm taking the motto Be Prepared very seriously. So for the next two weeks, I am going to talk about how I face my fears, get ready and get through these medical appointments and procedures. Which means you can look forward to posts with lots of ideas you can try to help you cope with big time medical appointments too.

I am also going to ask you, my readers, to share your tips and tricks with me too. Comments showing your support and encouragement will be greatly appreciated too.

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