Snowboarding saved me from cancer… not as in it cured me or anything like that… but a crash while snowboarding saved me nonetheless.
I’ve been told many times in my life that I’m an “oversharer” and I have a feeling this post will be graphic and that accusation may come at me once again due to what I’m going to talk about.
Let Me Start from the Beginning.
I snowboard. A lot. It’s hands down my favorite thing to do on the planet. I ride Bear Mountain and Snow Summit here in Big Bear Lake, CA with my girls pretty much on a daily basis. Even with our busy schedule this year, Zoë and I will still get about 100 days in while Kaylee will round out around 70 days (she broke her arm early this season and has completely recovered).
Early this season when Kaylee was laid up, Zoë and I were lapping Chair 9 at Bear. Bear Mountain is pretty much a top to bottom park with Chair 9 being the main park run. At the bottom of Chair 9, there are traditionally 3 progressively larger jumps. Earlier in the season before we get ample snow, there are typically 2 larger jumps.
The secret to hitting that jump line is to send the 1st jump to get good speed for the subsequent jumps. If you do, you will have ample speed to land in the “sweet spots” of the landings. Too slow and you’ll “knuckle” the jump, meaning land on the knuckle and boy does it hurt your knees. Rarely, you can oversend a jump, which is equally as bad. When I’m hitting those larger jumps, I’m probably cruising at about 30-35 mph.
As Zoë and I were lapping chair 9, we were hitting the jumps and getting our speed super dialed in. The snow changes every day, so it’s necessary to get your speed dialed in every day before you start throwing down tricks.
This one day in particular, the snow was great. I had my speed dialed down. Zoë was following me and we were both landing in the sweet spots of the jumps. On the bottom jump, the largest of the 2 jumps at that time, I decided to throw a backside 180. I’ve only done this trick a million times, backside 180s were my typical go-to trick.
Everything felt great, the approach was super solid, the takeoff was super solid, my rotation was on lock, I brought my knees up… I was floating. When I landed it happened so fast… I caught my heel edge and slammed immediately onto my ass and the pain was instant.
This may sound gross, but it’s the best way to describe the feeling… it felt like my butthole kissed the ground. Oh, the pain brought tears to my eyes, but I immediately popped up to my feet and rode away. Zoe said, “that looked like it hurt… I’m surprised you got up so fast.” My girls are savages when it comes to showing empathy when I crash LOL.
Since that slam I’ve had a pain in my ass… specifically right around my anus and I’ve had a tiny amount of bright red blood on my TP in the bathroom every once in a while.
So, I go to my Doctor… he’s super rad. And I tell him about my pain. Also, my family has a history of colorectal cancer. So he ordered a colonoscopy for me.
Now, check this out. I’m 40, I’ll be 41 in April. I eat amazingly healthy, I’m in stellar physical condition. I exercise a ton. I’m the poster child for a healthy 40-year-old man. My doctor said he was concerned I might have what’s called an anal fissure. This is a tear in the lining of the anus due to trauma.
I had no desire to do the colonoscopy and I knew it was necessary and if I had this anal fissure it would have to be diagnosed and fixed with a colonoscopy. So, I made an appointment.
If you’ve never had a colonoscopy, you don’t know about the drink. Well, now you’re going to learn something. The drink is such a horrible experience. The night before you have your colonoscopy, you have to drink a special drink. Basically, it’s this water with a little bit of powder in it. It’s not thick and it doesn’t taste horrible. It’s not the best, but not horrible. I made the drink then put it in the fridge and let it get super cold before I drank it. That helped with getting it down for sure.
Every 10 minutes you have to drink 8 ounces of the drink. Not a big deal for the first 30 minutes… then… it hits you.
The drink makes your body completely evacuate your intestines. It is so super unpleasant. Yeah, that’s putting it mildly. I did it and wasn’t able to sleep for more than about 20-30 minutes at a time and yeah… it was the opposite of awesome.
So the day of, we had friends come up from San Diego and stay with us the night before. Our friend Christina went with Chrystal and I down the mountain to the hospital while her husband Ziggy stayed at home with the girls and their toddler Ayla. Christina is preggers too. Ziggy is able to work remotely as he has his own business. If you or someone you know needs raw data, Ziggy is the man. Check out his company here and give him a call.
So Chrystal, Christina and I got to the hospital at 9:45 am, my check-in time was 10 am. Well, yeah… they were running behind. They didn’t take me back until 11:30 am. By 11:50 am I was gowned up and ready to go.
So apparently there were 2 patients ahead of me who took significantly longer than normal to get done with their procedures. I guess the person immediately ahead of me had over 30 polyps removed and they had to stop and schedule the person to come back to continue. So long story longer, I didn’t go back to get my colonoscopy until 3:30 pm.
The Actual Procedure
So for the actual procedure, I got wheeled into an operating room and I was on my left side. There was a nice 32″ HD monitor in front of me and the doctor came in. She was super nice and we spoke about the procedure and what brought me in. I told her about my snowboarding mishap and how I had been in on and off pain since it happened and had a little bright red blood every once in a while and that my primary thought it was a good idea to just come in and get a colonoscopy.
So the nurse went ahead and put the medicine into my IV, which knocks most people out. For me, not so much so. I hallucinated just like I was on LSD… and I mean EXACTLY the same visuals. It was pretty cool. That said… I was fully aware and of completely sound mind, well, for the most part during the procedure.
I watched the scope go way up inside of me and watched her do the exam.
“So what did it feel like?” is a question a few of my friends have asked me. Well, let me tell you. It doesn’t feel good at all. It feels really weird to have something go way up inside of you and even weirder because you’re watching it go through and feeling it move inside of you at the same time. There were a few times it hurt. There were a few times when I felt crazy pressure… they have to fill you up with water and air. There were some times I didn’t feel anything at all.
So, the doctor was going through doing the colonoscopy, telling me both the intestine and colon both looked great… then she stopped and said, “Oh wow, there’s a polyp!” This was in my colon.
She was obviously surprised. I watched her cut it out and remove it. Then proceed with the examination. A couple of minutes went by and we were almost done… then she said, “Oh look, there’s another polyp.” The 2nd one was in my rectum “very close” to my anus.
She went ahead and removed that polyp too and went ahead and completed the colonoscopy.
My doctor told me I was very lucky to have come in at such a young age and that it’s very rare for someone as young as me to have polyps. She said she wasn’t concerned about my polyps being cancerous, though they were going to be tested to make sure. But she said if I would have waited until the age of 50 as most people wait for a colonoscopy, she’s certain we would have been having a cancer conversation.
I was in utter shock. I really believed she was going to tell me I had an anal fissure or something like that.
So what I do have going on besides the polyps is external hemorrhoids.
There are several ways one can get hemorrhoids and I got mine in a rare type of way… from trauma. Apparently, we all have hemorrhoid tissue around our anuses. That tissue swells up to help protect the anus if there’s trauma in the area. And blunt force trauma like the big backside 180 slam I had is one way to get hemorrhoids. Learn something new every day, right?
So the long and short of it is… I more than likely not only gave myself hemorrhoids, but I also aggravated my polyps, especially the one in my rectum. So it’s highly probable that both of those were helping to contribute to the pain in my anus. I’m seriously laughing at some of the shit I’m writing right now.
So, as with any procedure, you can have complications. The risk of complications with colonoscopies are super low… statistically, not really probable. But I hit the complications lottery. LOL
After the procedure, Tina drove Chrystal and me over to a great little taco shop where we had some amazing Mexican food. Side note… Southern California has some of the best Mexican food in the entire world. I ate half of my burrito and had some jamaica (amazingly awesome hibiscus tea). Then we drove back up the mountain.
Actually, Christina drove back up the mountain and I was a backseat driver. According to my beautiful wife I was a paranoid backseat driver asshole, I’m sorry Christina… it was the drugs.
After we got home, I finished my burrito and had a couple of potato chips along with a glass of electrolyte water and a glass of apple juice. About halfway through my glass of apple juice, I felt super nauseous and went to the bathroom and puked.
One of the side effects of having a colonoscopy is that you have tons of air inside of you that needs to come out. After I puked, I felt the urge to go to the bathroom and I filled the toilet with blood. (Told you I was going to overshare and be graphic.)
So, it did freak me out a bit… but I was still coming down off of my high from the pharmaceuticals and knew a little blood was normal. This wasn’t a little amount… but I was still chill.
The next morning when I woke up, I was good to go. A little sore on my backdoor, but good to go. Then, I filled the toilet with blood again. I was dressed and ready to go snowboarding with Zoe. We were within 5 minutes of heading out the door to the mountain, so I quickly undressed and rushed myself to the ER.
One thing to note is that on my discharge papers from the colonoscopy, it says if I have bright red blood, go to the ER. If I puke, go to the ER and if I have a fever, go to the ER… I had a low-grade fever, puked and had a lot of bright red blood. So that’s exactly what I did, went to the ER while I left a message for my GI Doctor to give me a call too.
After a CT scan and bloodwork I came to find out I did not have a perforated intestine (that was my biggest concern) but my intestines were full of fluid. The doctor in the ER said they weren’t equipped to handle my case and that I wasn’t in a life-threatening position (my biggest concern) so I went ahead and went home.
My GI Doctor called me and we spoke. She said if I continued to have the same amount of blood or more to come directly to her hospital. I’m very fortunate that today I only have about half of the blood coming out of me as I did before. Yippie.
Go Get a Colonoscopy
Seriously, just do it. I thought I was way too young to have anything going on down there that could be an issue… I WAS WRONG.
My whole entire thought process on colonoscopies and pre-screening has changed. I think everyone should start getting them at 40… or Hell, even 35.
From what I’ve read it takes about an average of 10 years for a polyp to form into cancer. If I would have waited until I was 50, my doctor thinks I would have had both colon and rectal cancers. My life path would have been one of cancer treatments of some sort and I would have caused my family so much stress.
Yes, I had complications and I would go through all of it again in an instant. I’m so grateful and lucky I had a colonoscopy and my doctor found and removed my polyps.
Snowboarding Saved Me from Cancer.
I fully and wholeheartedly believe this. If I didn’t snowboard, I wouldn’t have got the injury that lead to me getting a colonoscopy at the age of 40. I am so very lucky and I am so grateful I crashed. I’m so grateful I gave myself painful trauma induced hemorrhoids.
If I would have landed that big backside 180… I would have never got hemorrhoids nor would I have gone to the GI for anything.
If I would have landed that big backside 180… I would not have got a colonoscopy until I was AT LEAST 50.
If I didn’t snowboard at all… I highly doubt I would have gone in for a colonoscopy until I had colorectal cancer.
I always thought colonoscopies were something old people did. Boy was I wrong. I can’t stress the importance for you to go get screened. Go get a colonoscopy. Hey, there may be complications… but I promise the complications are a million times better than cancer.
Thank you snowboarding… thank you doctors, and thank you for reading this.
If my story can get just 1 person to go in early for a colonoscopy and they get just 1 polyp removed… all of this oversharing will be absolutely worth it.
While not all polyps are cancerous… all colon cancer starts with polyps.