Wednesday, March 19, 2014

A Case of Mistaken Identity or When Life Gives You Lemons...

I was reminded today of an odd phone call I received about three weeks after the birth of my youngest daughter, as surrounded by half-unpacked boxes and children's toys, I attempted to nurse said newborn child.

Picking up the phone and awkwardly squeezing it between my ear and shoulder, I heard a male voice on the other end ask for me by my full name.

"This is she," I replied, adjusting kiddo in one and dragging a nearby chair over to the telephone table.

"Oh, hi!" the voice on the phone said affably. "My name is Dave*.  I know your friend Mike*."

I plunked myself down and took a moment to switch my fussing child from one boob to the other.

"My friend... Mike?" I replied, grunting as she latched.   I knew a few Mikes.  Puzzled, I asked, "Which Mike?"

"Your friend Mike that works for the OPP.  Yeah, he said you were single and that I should call and introduce myself... See if you want to get a coffee sometime."

By now it was obvious this guy had the wrong number, as I was 99% sure none of the Mikes I knew worked for the OPP.  Apologetically, I told the guy, "That's very nice but I'm afraid I don't know Mike that works for the OPP."  

"Are you sure?" The stranger that is called Dave asked, sounding perplexed. "Your name is {redacted}, right?"

I chuckled and replied "It is, but I assure you, I don't know any Mike that works for the OPP."

There was a lengthy pause as he mulled this over.

"Are you black?"

The conversation had officially hit a new level of weird.  Glancing down at my arms, I said "I'm definitely sure I'm not black."  (In fairness, I don't exactly have my genealogy entirely mapped out, so theoretically I could have been wrong).

"Oh.  Mike told me you were black.  I must have the wrong number."

"Yup, I you do," I replied.

The stranger on the phone that was called Dave paused again.

"Do you want to go out sometime?"

Flabbergasted, I searched for words. "Um.. Yeah.  Actually, I just gave birth less than a month ago.  I'm not exactly in a dating place right now.  But thanks? I guess?"

"Oh well, figured I'd try!" He said, then hung up.

I guess some people just gotta take a chance when it presents itself.

*names have been changed, because quite frankly, I don't remember them.

Monday, March 17, 2014

I won't be getting my own X-Title any time soon.

Back when I had my colectomy and all that fun asshole cancer stuff, I also agreed to take part in some genetic research in regards to a condition known as Lynch Syndrome, which I assume has nothing to do with Stephen Lynch.  Initial tests showed a deficiency of a protein called MLH-1.  This deficiency can be an indication that I carry the Lynch Syndrome gene, but it can also be caused by irritable bowel disease, including Crohns and colitis.

I agreed to the testing because for one, INTERESTING; two, I kinda think it'd be cool to be in a medical journal; and three, since Lynch Syndrome can also predispose one to not just gastrointestinal cancers, but uterine and ovarian cancer as well, I thought it'd be handy information to have, being the bearer of a uterus and ovaries and the like.  If found positive, I may find it prudent to no longer be the bearer of a uterus and ovaries and the like.  Meaning I'd have to give some consideration to a hysterectomy, because its damn hard to get cancer in your baby-maker if you ain't got a baby maker.

Besides, I am DONE with the making of babies.  Periods are kind of bullshit, too.  However, early-onset menopause doesn't exactly sound like an island cruise.  Also, I have an irrational fear of developing facial hair.  All is vanity.

So since December I've been waiting on the initial test results from my genetic screening.  The blood test to determine what was causing the MLH-1 deficiency showed that the gene contained a variant, which lies somewhere on the spectrum between a polymorphism, which is your basic, no-big-deal change in the gene, and a mutation, which is pretty much what it sounds like.

So, long story short, results were inconclusive.  I may have Lynch Syndrome, I may not.

Next step is additional testing, which pretty much just involves signing a paper saying they can send a chunk of my tumour sample to Utah, to frolick among the Mormons.  Uhm, I mean, to get tested.  The other option (although its not an either/or) is to test other members of the family who have had colon cancer.  Easier said than done, since the only other family member has been passed on some 23ish years now.  So that will involve some discussion.

So, I'm not a mutant, I don't get my own comic book series and for now I guess the plumbing is going to stick around for a bit until we have some clearer answers.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Conversations with my kid: Life Skills

In the car:

R: my bra is itching me.
Me: take it off then.  You'll want to learn how to take your bra off without taking your shirt off, anyway.  It's something every woman should know.
R: I already know how to do that.
Me: well good.  It's an important life skill to have.
R: yeah in case someone puts a tracking device on it.

In other news, I'm starting to wonder if my kid is working for the CIA.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

(Overheard) Conversations with my kids: perspective.

In the car while we headed home from getting groceries, my children discussed an incident on the bus where another kid expressed sympathy for their father and stepmother for having to listen to the girls fight over stuff like taking their dogs out to go to the bathroom.

T: "... Thing is, when they said that  on the bus, about feeling sorry for our parents, I wanted to say 'at least we only fight over little things. We don't really ever have to fight over big things.'"

R: "Yeah, like getting rid of a corpse."

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Save the assholes, or Hey, apparently we get a month too!

Here's a fun fact I just found out via Tumblr.  Apparently, March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness month (or as i and others have referred to it, Asshole Cancer, because its fun to say and well, it's kind of an asshole).  Rather than take to the Facebook and invoke some meme where you post the colour and length of the skid-marks in your underpants, I'm going to take the time to spread some actual awareness, courtesy of the good folks at Colon Cancer Canada ( mainly because their tag line is "We're Behind Your Behind" which I think is cute as heck.  Other info is from my own personal experience with colon cancer.

So, some stuff you may not know:

Colon cancer is ridiculously treatable if caught early, yet has a high mortality rate because many people don't catch it until it is well advanced.  My grandpa Murray died from colon cancer, mainly because by the time they caught it, the cancer had spread to his liver.  On the other hand, my own cancer was discovered while in Stage one and was removed without the need for chemotherapy or radiation, mainly because it was found during a routine scope I had for my colitis.

The thing is, a lot of cases go undetected because folks can go a long time without showing any outward symptoms.

There are things you can keep an eye out for, however:

- blood in your stool.  Not just red.  Black or dark purplish stool can indicate blood as well.  I learned that the hard way.
- weird, random changes in bowel movements.  Getting all bunged up, or a constant case of the runs for no discernible reason.
- gas pains, stomach pains, bloating, pooping more (or less) than usual
- feeling like you gotta go, but not producing much.
- going, but not feeling empty
- sudden weight loss
- constant fatigue

These are things that might indicate a problem, but as mentioned, a lot of people don't experience any symptoms until the disease is well advanced.  This is one of those proactive things, where you're going to want to get screened, especially if you meet certain criteria for risk:

- you're over 50
- you have a history of irritable bowel disease, such as Crohn's Disease or Colitis (oh, hai! *waves*)
- family history of colorectal cancer. If its a parent, You're gonna want to start screening 10 years before the age they were diagnosed.  My lucky ladies will need to start screening in their early 20s.  Thanks, genetics!
- family history of inherited uterine, ovarian or breast cancer.
- have been previously diagnosed with polyps or precancerous cells

Screening can consist of a couple tests.  There's a fecal occult blood test, which sounds a lot more neat and spooky than it is, where you use a small stick to smear some of your poo on a card you get from your doctor who sends it to a lab to get checked for traces of blood.  

The other test is a colonscopy, which consists of having a tiny camera on the end of a long flexible tube inserted into your bum and up into your colon with the help of a localized anesthetic, and it is buttloads of fun *snicker*.  You'll be instructed to fast the day before and to take a purgative to clean out your system.  My advice is as follows for the pre-scope cleanse:

- don't make plans for the day
- stay near a toilet
- shell out for the softest, squishiest toilet paper you can afford.  It's worth it, trust me.

There's also the colonoscopy's little baby cousin, the flexible sigmoidoscopy, which is a smaller camera on a tube, about the size of that thing at the dentist they use to suck the spit out of your mouth.  The downside is they probably won't put you out for it, so its a bit uncomfortable, but the upside is that since you're awake, you might have the option of watching a video of your own rectum.  It's kind of gross and fascinating at the same time.  

Fun story: A few days after one of my sigmoidoscopies, we had a sewer back-up and they sent robots into the sewer to find where the blockage was.  Afterwards they gave us a copy of the video.  Had we had the scope-video, it would have made a rather humorous split-screen.

Anyway, during the scope they'll check for weirdness and abnormalities such as polyps, and may take tissue samples.  If biopsies are done, you may feel a bit sore and tender in the abdominal area for a day or two afterwards.  

So this is some basic info on screening and prevention, because for something that is fairly easy to treat if caught early, a whole lot of people die unnecessarily.  Food for thought.