I’m no stranger to the doctor’s office, or hospitals for that matter. When I’m pregnant I go to the doctor once a week and sometimes more depending on which doctor feels like they are on deck for my care. I felt like I was living in waiting rooms.
However, after my almost 1-year-old son was born, I thought we were done. No more bills waiting in the mailbox, no more receptionists and nurses to get to know and no more waiting and praying for good test results. I was wrong.
Two weeks ago my husband had a colonoscopy. At the risk of completely embarrassing him in front of anyone we know in real life, I will just say he was having some issues.
I jokingly call him a hypochondriac. Sometimes I feel he goes looking for problems and I’m not sure how big they truly are. It just feels like he has had a lifelong man cold and it has finally worn me down. Now I just tell him to go to whatever doctor he wants. I’ve had to learn to bite my tongue here and complain elsewhere (like perhaps on an internet blog).
So I sat there working form the hospital while my husband was going through his procedure. I was pretty sure it was hemorrhoids.
It didn’t take long for the anesthesia to wear off and my husband to start cracking jokes. While we waited for the doctor we listened to an elderly gentleman passing gas in the recovery bay next to us. My husband had done it too because apparently that’s what happens after a colonoscopy, but not like this. We stifled our laughing, just like middle schoolers laughing about farts.
The doctor came in after about 20 minutes. He was handsome. I was glad he wasn’t looking up my butt. Mental note: Use a different doctor when you need a colonoscopy.
Handsome Doctor explained he found a polyp in my husband’s colon that he had removed. Okay, case solve. No more “issues.”
But he didn’t stop there. Apparently, this polyp was a sizeable one. In fact it was just below the size that is usually cancerous.
I’m pretty sure my mouth dropped open just a bit. My husband is 36. I realize we are closer to 50 now than we are to 20, but we are in our 30’s.
“If you had waited until you were 38, it’d be cancer,” Handsome Doctor said. “At 40, forget about it. Full blown colon cancer. There wouldn’t be much I could do.”
At that point I interrupted.
“Wait, are you saying it was cancer?”
The conversation quickly went from childish laughing about farting to a very grown-up discussion that I didn’t feel ready to be part of. I kept thinking about how we aren’t that old. I wasn’t ready to deal with things like cancer. Neither of us smoke. We drink on occasion, but like one or two drinks nothing crazy. We have a decent diet. We get crappy amounts of sleep, but we’re parents so that comes with the territory.
He told me no, but that they would have it tested. Then he mentioned a gluten allergy test (which I argued with him about due to my personal views on that) and a CAT scan, which my husband has had before. All-in-all, he left me rather confused.
Handsome Doctor’s final advice was to come back in three years for another colonoscopy.
We pulled out of the hospital parking lot and I told my husband he had permission to go to whatever doctor he wanted to. I’d add the medical bills to my already running tally and find a way to make it work. He laughed at me.
“All I had to do was get cancer?”
“It’s not funny,” I said.
Joking was over. Our kids are 1 and 3 and we are in our 30’s! I know that cancer doesn’t discriminate but I just wasn’t really prepared for this that day. I was prepared for hemorrhoids.
Fast-forward two weeks. The results are in: NOT CANCER.
The verdict is that the polyp was not cancerous. However, now the doctor wants to see him back in 6 months for some sort of mini-colonoscopy.
I was confused again. When this guy thought it was cancerous, he told us to comeback in three years. Now that it is not cancerous, he wants to see us in six months?
“Why did his recommendation change?”
My husband told me he didn’t know.
“You didn’t ask,” I said. It might have sounded like a question, but it really wasn’t.
Nope. He had not asked. (Always be there when the doctor is talking. Don’t trust your husband to ask all the questions.) He promised me he would call back and ask. This was last week. I’m guessing I’m going to have to ask about 10 more times and go a little nuts before it actually happens.
This whole experience did something for us though. I think it reminded him that life isn’t a guarantee. That he needs to show up – emotionally and mentally – in our relationship and as a dad. I see him trying, even if it isn’t the easiest thing for him because he is introverted and craves his alone time.
It reminded me that I need to take a step back from my frustration with the medical bills when he says that something is wrong and really listen. I need to be his partner in keeping the bad things away. This time was one of those times where I should have said, “Okay,” instead of rolling my eyes and thinking he was overreacting about hemorrhoids. It could have been so much worse.
Right now, we’re going to take the next six months one day at a time and be thankful for each day as a couple and as parents. You really don’t know when life is going to be ripped away from you. I feel like we should have learned that lesson already, but there is something about being healthy adults in your 30’s that always makes it seem like nothing bad can happen. There’s something about going through the motions of everyday life that makes it seem like nothing will go wrong, but there really are no guarantees in life. Maybe we aren’t living like we’re dying yet, but we are definitely trying to live a little more outside of the waiting room.