I’ve been very healthy, usually having to see a doctor only for routine checkups. However, this spring I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease. Other than problematic fatigue, I was doing well. Blood tests revealed the fatigue was from iron deficiency anemia and a colonoscopy led to a colon cancer diagnosis.
After my diagnosis of Parkinson’s Disease earlier this year, my neurologist prescribed two medications that would help treat my symptoms. They made a noticeable difference but I started having some issues with drowsiness, lightheaded, dizziness and fatigue which are known to be side effects that can occur from taking the two medicines. I’ve also had a decreased appetite and lost weight without really trying but who complains about loosing some unwanted pounds. Most of the time, side effects from medications are mild and go away after a few weeks but I experienced fatigue and dizziness for months. Trying to eliminate the problems, the medications were adjusted to a lower dosage but the symptoms persisted.
The fatigue became problematic when I couldn’t finish simple cooking tasks in the kitchen. After standing 20 or 30 minutes, I would start to get lightheaded and have to ask my husband to help. Thankfully, he is a very good cook and has basically taken over the kitchen. That explains why you haven’t seen much from this food and travel blogger this year. We are not traveling and I’m sitting on the sidelines, watching my husband prepare wonderful meals for us. He jokes that his cooking might put a couple of pounds back on me.
The day came recently when I knew my fatigue couldn’t be just side effects from the medications I was taking, something really wasn’t right. I started my usual morning walk but was out of breath after a mere 250 feet and had to turn around. When I got in the house, the first thing I did was call our Nurse Practitioner and made an appointment for the next morning..
Upon arrival, she mentioned how pale I was and did several tests, noting a sudden drop in my blood pressure when I stood up from a sitting or lying position. She ordered a complete blood count (CBC) that is used to detect a wide range of disorders. She said she suspected anemia because of my loss of appetite, weight loss, drowsiness, low blood pressure and shortness of breath. I was surprised that these were all the same symptoms that I had been blaming on my Parkinson medications.
She told me that she didn’t want to alarm me but iron deficiency anemia is one of the first suspected symptoms of colon cancer. She had been told that the head of Colorectal Surgery at Cleveland Clinic was taking new patients and to be on the safe side, she wanted me to get an appointment with her for a colonoscopy as soon as possible.
Within hours of leaving her office, my Nurse Partitioner called to confirmed that I had iron deficiency anemia. My hemoglobin, as well as my iron count, were so low that I needed to get to the hospital emergency room as soon as possible. After more blood tests at the hospital, I was admitted, given blood and iron transfusions and observed overnight until the counts improved.
A week later, I had a colonoscopy and my doctor found colon cancer. She explained that it probably had been bleeding so slightly that it wouldn’t have been noticeable. Within two days, she scheduled three CT scans to see if there were any signs of the cancer spreading to other parts of my body. Good news came from her that the “CT scans show that the tumor is limited to the colon and therefore curable”. Surgery is planned in two weeks.
While Back Road Journal is the place where I like to share what I “discover on the back roads of life“, sometimes the roads can have an unexpected bump or two. I felt that it is important to let you know that if something doesn’t feel right with your body, perhaps it is time to see a doctor. If you are told that you have anemia, you might want to talk to your healthcare provider about screening for colon cancer because most people with early stage colon cancer don’t have any symptoms.
I’m very fortunate to live in a town with a good healthcare system, surrounded by friends and a wonderful husband that are at my side as I take this new journey. It certainly isn’t one of my usual travel adventures but hopefully it will bring me back to good health and I can once again travel and share new discoveries, beautiful scenery and delicious food with all of you.
My computer needs to go in for some need maintenance, the same as I do. Once we are both in good working order, I’ll write about my road to recovery. Perhaps sharing this new journey will help others faced with a cancer diagnosis such as colorectal cancer and will be facing the same issues. In the meantime, please think of this foodie over the months ahead and the lifestyle changes I’ll be making to bring me back to good health.