I had my yearly physical last week.
Thanks to my handy-dandy Speedicath catheters, I have not had a bladder infection for a while. I feel great and vibrant. I have only two more weeks of school before summer vacation. I seem to be rolling along with my urological issues just fine, for which I am truly thankful! The world is my oyster!

At the appointment I sent in blood to be checked out. There was a listen to my heart, a look in my mouth, my weight and height, blood pressure and the rest. I know that during my yearly physical the other parts of my body are checked. My bladder, bowel and nervous system are not a big part of the appointment.

During the exam, she felt my ovaries. I have read that one in seventy women get ovarian cancer. There are distinct clues for ovarian cancer, yet many times it goes unnoticed. The conversation with my doctor went like this;

One of the symptoms of ovarian cancer is constipation, well I have a neurogenic bladder so I am always constipated, by bowel is chronically sluggish.

The other symptom is feeling bloated.  Once again I said since I am chronically constipated but use stool softeners, the bloated feeling is not a foreign one to me.

Lastly she said that discomfort in the abdomen is another clue.  Again I told her that there are a lot of reasons that I get twinges of pain once in a while.   It is just a way of life with me.

After the feel of my overies was over, they were a bit tender, which by the way is another symptom, the topic was dropped.  We were on to the next body part.  The whole scenario was kind of an out of body experience. because as much as I like my family practice physician, I felt a disconnect. My point in all of this,  is that I wish that these great ships in my life, my doctors, were a little more aligned.  I have so many questions.   So exactly how do I, a woman with a neurogenic bladder and bowel, know if I have ovarian cancer? Are there other ways I can find out besides the classic symptoms? I do not have all of my working parts? Once again I felt a little vulnerable.

As well as I feel now,  I realize that I am a bit physically fragile. After the exam, the topic of ovarian cancer was dropped.  As I left the appointment I wondered if I should have asked the main question that burned in my brain on the way home….Should I settle for not being able to feel the classic symptoms? 

This is a perfect example of how we with disabilities need to be our own medical advocates. I plan on taking the issue a step further next year during my yearly physical. One more note for my medical journal.

More later…