At 29 years old, I consider myself relatively healthy. Minus the fact that I have no sense of smell, I would say I haven’t had anything medically major happen in my life. Like most people, I was hoping that I would never have this occur. Soon after I received my diagnosis, that would all change. My genetic counsellor is awesome and referrals were sent out to the Gastroenterologists in Hamilton, as well as Toronto. My results were sent to my family doctor. Suddenly, I had a whole team of people rallied up just for me!
The week after I received my result, I received a phone call from the Gastroenterologist’s office at St. Joseph’s hospital to book my gastroscopy. In case you aren’t sure what this is, it is a procedure where a tube with a camera (gastroscope) is sent down your esophagus to look at your stomach. The surgeon will also take small biopsies to be tested and examined in a lab. I am a visual person so I attached a picture (thanks google!)It was booked for Dec 17th, 2013 – 10:45am. Nothing to eat or drink after midnight the night before. Arrange for someone to drive you home. Me being a person who needs to eat every 2-3 hours, this seems like a terrible task. No drinking, not even water?!?! My mom offered to take me to and from the appointment as I was going to be sedated for the procedure. I asked the receptionist on the phone if I could go back to work afterwards and she recommended that I take the whole day off. I understood why when my procedure was over.
When I arrived at the hospital, I filled out the appropriate paperwork and waited in the waiting room. I looked around and most of the other people waiting there were middle aged, they probably thought, what is this young teenager doing here? Then I was called in and told to put a hospital gown on. This whole CDH1 thing was starting to become more real. I was guided to a room where they administer an IV. I sat in a chair and looked at the nurse who was administering the IV and realize that she’s our shortstop on my baseball team! We had a good laugh and then she started asking me questions like, “why are you here”. This is when I had to explain that I had the CDH1 gene mutation that puts me at high risk for developing HDGC. Again, me being and feeling super healthy, this is a weird thing to explain. Getting an IV was not fun, I have bruises to tell the tale.
Once the IV was in I went to the procedure room where I met the Gastroenterologist. I was lying in a hospital bed, with a pulse oximeter, a blood pressure cuff, getting O2 prongs, with my IV pole. The oncologist starts taking a family history as CDH1 is relatively new and doctors are still learning about it. After that I get knocked out and wake up in the recovery room. Procedure done!
I don’t remember putting on my coat, I don’t remember getting to the hospital lobby. I do remember meeting my mom after the procedure. I do remember asking my mom why they took 13 biopsies repetitively when she kept repeating that they took ROUTINE biopsies. I remember the nurse then telling my mom that I should not walk to the lobby and that she was going to get a transfer chair. I don’t remember getting home or eating lunch. I now understand what I wasn’t allowed to work after the procedure.
So that’s it! Now I become the patient patient and wait for the biopsy results. Even if they are negative, which they likely are, doesn’t mean I am in the clear. But it may mean if cancer is there, it isn’t really bad yet. I have also been booked for my consult with the Gastroenterologist in Toronto who did my mom’s surgery. This occurs in March.