Sometimes a polyp is just a polyp psychology today electricity sources in canada


My friend Margaret asks how I am. It is a casual question; we see each other every week and anticipate that we know pretty well what’s going on with each other. We are working in her kitchen, finishing preparation for a party she is hosting for our friend Susan, who is visiting from Europe. I feel angry at myself when tears come into my eyes. Get a grip, Elizabeth! says that voice in my head.

And out it comes, in a rush: I’d had a colonoscopy the day before, and they’d found a big polyp, and big polyps are more likely to be pre-cancerous. And I’d have to have another colonoscopy in a year or two. Margaret nods, and tells me that she has had polyps lots of times, and it has always been all right. She’s older than I, and I take her reassurance seriously.

I shake my head. “I don’t want to talk about it now,” I say. “It’s not a big deal. Not like Susan, or Lorna.” Margaret looks surprised. Susan has a mysterious disease. She’s being treated for Lyme and has had terribly debilitating symptoms. She’s been living far away from old friends and family, and we’re worried about her morale as well as her physical health. Lorna has had cancer and is facing a second round of treatment, possible metastasis, and though she is her breezy self, she’s also said she can’t come to the party because she doesn’t feel up to it. They have real problems.

“I don’t want to cry now,” I tell Margaret. “I’m really okay.” She gives me one more look and goes back to cooking. And I go into the room where the other women are, and put on my favorite cloak, humor. The party goes well, we have a good time, I am truly okay.

I tell my therapist about the colonoscopy, and about my recent referral to a cardiologist because of the “weird” results of the Holter monitor I’ve been saddled with for the past few weeks. The primary care doctor isn’t sure what one of the patterns indicates, so I’m to see the heart woman in a few weeks. In the meantime, I’m wearing the heart monitor, my new insulin pump, and my continuous glucose monitor, and feeling like a bionic time bomb.

I joke with Ian, the therapist, about my catastrophic thinking. “Sometimes I make myself laugh by picturing myself getting the news that I have colon cancer just as I’m having a fatal heart attack,” I tell him. He smiles; he knows me and my stories. “I get to imminent demise from a 3-centimeter polyp and a blip on a heart rate monitor!” He nods.

There are some things about my situation that I know make me afraid when I have any medical issue, which at 55 are pretty frequent. (I’ve just completed a round of physical therapy on my shoulder, and in my mind narrowly avoided spending the rest of my life paralyzed after painful back surgery). There’s a lot of psychological detritus with diabetes.

When I was a child, two bad things happened to my body, without warning, and without much of any processing: I was diagnosed with diabetes when I was ten, a life-changing event, and I was diagnosed with scoliosis, for which I had to wear a brace, in early adolescence, just when I was getting interested in boys and wanting to fit in and be cool. I wore the brace through high school, and never, ever felt cool. My early and persistent fear is accurate in a way: I’m afraid that my body is vulnerable, and that it may betray me as it did when I was young.

The other contributing factor to my catastrophic thinking is the fact that people with diabetes hear that Disease X, Y or Z “is more common in people with diabetes.” I take medication for the big ones, high cholesterol and high blood pressure. I exercise. I’ve finally gotten another insulin pump to tighten the range of my glucose. But I still have trouble with carpal tunnel and trigger finger; have mild retinopathy. And I have learned to live so attuned to my blood sugar that I can’t imagine feeling at home in the only home that really matters—my body.

In the 45 years of diabetes I’ve been really lucky. My doctor at Joslin says that at this point, I’m unlikely to get the major complications—kidney failure, circulatory issues leading to amputation, blindness—many people get; if I were going to get them, I would have already gotten them. Like a small percentage of people with diabetes, I apparently have protective factors against the great guns. I’m very grateful for that.