Houston, I think we have a problem.

Trancoso, Brazil. My home away from home, and when I knew something was truly wrong. (photo credit, Leah Flippen)

Trancoso, Brazil. My home away from home, and when I knew something was truly wrong. (photo credit, Leah Flippen)

Things don’t always go away if you ignore them.

We came back from Mexico and the celebration didn’t end until New Year’s Eve. An extravaganza was thrown for one of my best friends birthday that included close friends and visitors from all corners of the world, some of who stayed through Thanksgiving. Holiday lights went up, Austin became shiny, the days grew dark and the overwhelming sense of merriment was palpable. I love the holidays, I love lights, I love eggnog and I love the milk of human kindness that flows through holly and garland. For a moment I stopped regarding my symptoms, but in my mind was already beginning to dedicate 2015 as a year of health, well being and rest.

January was a hopeful and focused month. I was going to bed early, waking up early, eating at home with lots of easy, healthy, whole foods and beginning a 600hr Pilates apprenticeship that would be the focus of my year. My work was busy and my life was feeling organized and flowing. Into February my personal Pilates practice was stronger than ever and I was beginning to do some teaching. I had scheduled an annual pilgrimage to Brazil to decompress and play in the worlds most beautiful setting. It was a stellar trip full of long beach walks, hours in the ocean, dinner parties, friends, laughter and rest. I was only there for 2 weeks, but I knew I should come back feeling refreshed and ready to conquer the next 6 months.

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My Swedish Brazilian family. Helena, Kiko and Theo. She has the most peaceful, warm, and loving home on the planet. If you don’t leave here feeling renewed and completely invigorated, something is wrong.

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May we pause for just a moment and raise a glass to my beautiful sister friend and the two supermodels sitting with her. She brought me to Trancoso, Brazil in the first place, and I couldn’t be more grateful.

I came back tired. The bright red blood streaking my stool had increased with the added bonus of frequently passing bloody mucus. There was blood on the toilet paper most every time I wiped. I was going to the bathroom up to 8 times daily, and in my Pilates practice I was becoming weaker despite 5 days a week logged between apparatus and mat work. My private lessons were frustrating. The core strength was there, but I was having trouble keeping up the pace of the 1 hr practice. My body still felt bloated and gassy even with the improved diet and significant increase in movement.

With a growing urgency and underlying, inexplicable sadness, the overwhelming reality that something was wrong became undeniable. I had made every change I could think of to improve my condition: diet, exercise, macrobiotics, probiotics, rest. And nothing was getting better. It was this fear that drove me to call Dr. P’s office, schedule another appointment and request a colonoscopy. Two weeks later I saw the Gastrointestinal doctor (Dr. L) who recommended a colonoscopy. Because of my young age he ordered the colonoscopy without hesitation, but had more concerns regarding colitis and IBS than anything else.

I was nervous and motivated, so when they handed me the info sheet for appointment scheduling and said I should hear from someone by Monday, this was Friday, I was on the phone scheduling for myself within the hour. Because I made this phone call I slid into the Wednesday slot just 5 days later. They had a cancellation right before I called, otherwise my appointment would have been 2-3 weeks later. Word to the wise, and the best thing I did in all of my early days of tests and scans, DO NOT WAIT FOR THEM TO CALL YOU. Call and make your appointments, bug them to get you in faster, and say “please.” There is no way to stress how far graciousness will get you, and if it gets you an appointment two weeks earlier than you might have, “please” might be one of the most important words you ever utter. And it’s just important to be polite. Always.

MoviPrep. How witty! Taste like lake water and goes down much better chilled.

MoviPrep. How witty! Taste like lake water and goes down much better chilled.

Colonoscopy preps suck. The colon preps taste awful (it’s much better cold), chugging all that fluid down is lousy and you’re attached to a bathroom for 24 hrs. Your stomach will be painful and bloated, and personally, I can never sleep those nights I’m doing a prep. Only clear fluids, broths or yellow jello all day long. Yellow jello is gross. So is green. However, none of this sucks as much as your doctor telling you the following day “it’s not good news.” If they move you into a room with a view before the doctor comes in to give the initial results, chances are they aren’t just being sweet. Chances are someone’s about to tell you that you have cancer.

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