My family doctor came the following morning to check on me. He’s a great guy with a forthright and honest prairie mentality. He said to me that I needed to prepare for the worst and hope for the best. Likely the it was a cancerous tumor that had been there for a while. Those words struck me like a death sentence, especially since my father had cancer in his forties. I was told the gastroenterologist on duty would scope me the next day to see where the bleeding was coming from. Lying there on a cot on the acute care ward feeling in limbo wondering how much longer I had, was a strange place to be. It reminds me of the saying “life happens while you are making plans”. My wife kissed me and said that she wanted to remember my lips while they were still warm.
At 6:00AM the following morning they gave me something to drink to flush me out in preparation for a colonoscopy. Wow did it ever work fast. Great way to start the morning. The good news was that the gastroenterologist said it wasn’t cancer but rather a condition that could be treated with a high fibre diet called diverticulosis. I felt so relieved, but those feelings where short lived because the bleeding had started up again.
That afternoon I was told that surgery would be required to stop the bleeding and that if I hemorrhaged the surgeon might have to remove my colon to save my life. The prospect of being sliced open was frightening to say the least. By this time friends everywhere were praying for me since I had been bleeding all through the day. I had already lost more than half my blood, 10 units, and would in total receive 6 units. I feel grateful for those who donate blood; it truly is a life saving gift.
Surgery was planned for the following day but the surgeon was reticent to open me up without being confident of a target location. He tried to get me into the Royal Columbian Hospital for an angiogram but they would not take me with out proof of an active bleed so a specialty CT scan was ordered stat. Amazingly the bleeding was stopped. Thankfully I never had to have surgery and was able to go home two days later. The whole ordeal left me feeling grateful for being alive. It’s funny how you look at life differently when you realize how fragile it is and how easily it could be taken from you. Coming out of the hospital that rainy morning I know I have a greater appreciation of life. Even the little water droplets on the car window looked beautiful, as do all the precious people in my life. I hope I don’t forget this lesson soon.