Because my abdomen is still distended and painful and I’m still loosing weight, I’ve spent the last month being poked, prodded, biopsied and scanned. I’ve done two bowel preps (and gotten to know my bathroom rather well). I’ve drank a number of potions and concoctions (some more pleasant than others). I’ve gotten to meet a couple doctors and a variety of nurses and I’ve learned a few things:

1. NOTHING is near as bad at the internet makes it out to be. NONE of the concoctions are near as vile as one would like you to believe. I’ve had to take several. No gagging was involved. In fact, I didn’t find them bad at all.

2. Doctors will be most encouraging and positive when you are doing the simplest tests. “That’s wonderful! You are doing a great job!” after every mouthful of barium but they will virtually ignore you when they are doing more complicated procedures. Don’t even try to talk to him when he is doing a colonoscopy, he’s busy.

3. Doctors hate pain. Nurses hate pain. They hate seeing you in pain. If they are pushing drugs it is because they hate pain.

4. There is a certain amount of pain that one can tolerate. It is okay to take something if it crosses over that boarder between pain and suffering. Pain is okay. Suffering is not.

5. If you are having more than a couple tests, chances are you WILL meet a nurse that you have to be very firm with and that is okay.

6. You will feel really good if you stand up for what you want/need. You are the patient and they are working for you. Be your own best advocate (even if you have to bring your husband to sit in the next room so you can draw on his energy to do so).

7. Most nurses are Godsend. They’ve stroked my hair and held my hand. They talked me down when I’ve started panicking. The are funny and caring. They really are a blessing and I am amazed at the care that they give despite what they have to do each and every day.

8. When you have a big ol’ round belly you will get adoring smiles from older couples in the ultrasound department. Even if you don’t feel like it, smile back. It doesn’t hurt to give your “bump” a rub either.

9.  No matter how nervous you are, there is always someone else in the waiting room that is even more frightened. A kind word and a warm smile can go a long way.

10. Be informed and be aware, but know that medical professionals, for the most part, aren’t out to get you. They do actually want to figure out what is wrong and help you feel better. The more “harden” may have their own life stories and it doesn’t have anything at all to do with you. So breathe, go with your gut, but also be willing to be open and trust.