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Finding courage before my surgery

March 19, 2012

By Lin Willett
Gladstone, Oregon
That’s what adults do
Article in honor of March Colonoscopy month

I stood this week in front of cold steel elevator doors thinking to myself, “Five years already since I last stood here waiting for this elevator.”

The surgeon who performed our first colonoscopies had released my husband for another ten years but the polyps they found in my insides warranted a five year return.

I hadn’t slept well the night before and as I stood there in the silent hall I wondered why.

Was it the fear they would find something worse this time, the vulnerability of “conscious sedation” that allows you to be awake but not remember, or was it the fact that once again I would be paying for the test?

The first test was before health care reform, this one was no longer considered preventative, so it would be subject to my deductible. I like to call these “the cruises I never took” since the cost is comparable.

As I sat in the mauve carpeted waiting room I pondered this.

Quite frankly it had taken a lot of “big girl” self talk to set up this appointment and I wasn’t sure why.

My surgeon swaggered in 45 min after the appointment time, all smiles and with no apology for keeping me sitting with no back support on his paper “lounge.” After some friendly banter and a cursory poke or two on my belly he led me out to the scheduling office to set up “our date” for the next Monday.

As I walked back to face the cold elevator, I realized that in addition to the reasons I had balked at setting up this important test, the main one was the fear that they would find something and I would have to make hard decisions.

In reality, there were more likely two GOOD outcomes;

They find nothing and I enjoy blessed peace of mind for years to come!

They find something and the chances are that it will be small, and CURABLE vs TERMINAL, so once again I go home relieved.

That is when I realized there was nothing to fear. It is in the procrastination that we give ourselves true reason to fear.

The doors spread open, I stepped inside the elevator and took a deep breath. If only I could reach my back, I would give myself a nice pat.


Home now resting on my couch where I spend much of the night between visits to the bathroom.

A pleasant morning of warmed blankets and nice surgical personnel….no pain except for the IV stick which was momentary, conscious sedation just a well needed nap after last night. Juice, cheese and crackers taste so good on a recovery table.

Four MORE polyps found and biopsied. The colored pictures the doctor brought to me in the recovery area show one that looks precancerous, all will be sent to pathology.

Now that I am home I wonder what those previous four polyps from five years ago would have become by this time. Every colonoscopy makes the next one less scary and increases my chances of a good report. My mind is at rest, “you done good girl!

— Lin Willett is the mother of three married children and grandmother of three.
— She and husband Rod live in Gladstone Or. and own McLoughlin Center Insurance in Milwaukie Or.

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Discuss this article

Sheri March 19, 2012

You indeed did very good girl!
Your bravery has added years and extra joy to your life.

Bridget Hill March 19, 2012

Now if only others take the advice and do the same. They have no excuse.

Olivia March 19, 2012

Lin, thank you for sharing this most important personal story. I’m an RN and I love to see such positive encouragement for this life saving screening test as well as a follow-up test. My dad died of colon cancer two years ago and I am now in the every five year testing group. That’s okay with me. As you said, it is worth the peace of mind that it adds to your life. Good for you!

Rose March 19, 2012

The patient and nurse perspective now make this all complete. Everyone go out and get tested. The verdict is in.

Melissa P. March 19, 2012

peace of mind is everything.

Sherrey March 21, 2012

Lin, it takes courage not only to get the testing done but also to tell about your fears and anxieties. Good for you for pushing through the wall of fear and coming out with “you done good, girl” on your lips.

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