The dangers in the police profession are many. None of us know from one day to the next what lies ahead while on or off duty, or whether we are active or retired officers. I am writing to inform you that there are other dangers we should be aware of.
I entered the New York State Troopers as a healthy young man in 1953. The duty hours of a New York State Trooper prior to 1960 were from 7:00am till 11:00pm each duty day. The patrols were long and tiring. Mealtimes were not regular. You were in the Troop car for long periods of time. We all had stressful days during those Barracks living years.
In 1958, I experienced a slight pain in my stomach area. I went to an internist and after some uncomfortable testing learned that I had a minor condition of a disease known as Diverticulosis, which is an intestinal disorder with the presence of diverticula, where in the early stages can appear like a blister on the walls of the colon. At the time the Doctor advised me not to eat peas, corn, and lima beans. I followed the physician’s suggestion and discontinued those items from my diet. The reason being that the shells could become stuck in the diverticula and cause infection or other problems.
At the time, the internist indicated that there were three stages of this condition. Over the subsequent years I carefully watched my diet, and thinking that everything was functioning properly. As all people in law enforcement know, the stress and tension is something that accompanies you throughout your career. Some people may handle stress by exercise, sports, smoking or even imbibing in alcohol. In my case I drank very little and quit smoking before I retired.
Two and one half years ago I was home and during the early evening experienced the sensation of something wet. I soon found out that I was experiencing a G.I. Bleed (gastrointestinal). The ambulance didn't waste anytime getting me to the hospital. Testing revealed that one or more diverticula were hemorrhaging. After two days of bleeding it stopped. The physician at this time told us that it might never bleed again. In addition to being restricted from peas, corn and lima beans, the hospital dietitian included the restriction of nuts, seeds and popcorn. I continued to be especially watchful of my diet.
Having retired from the Troopers and seven-year stint with a Central New York Banking Institution, my wife and I began spending the winter months in Arizona. On November 16th, 1998 in Phoenix, at about noon, we had stopped at a restaurant for a light lunch. We placed our order. At that moment I sensed something was amiss. I soon learned that the second G.I. Bleed was at that moment occurring. I was naturally concerned.
We drove to the Goodyear Emergency Hospital. From there I was transported to the Maryvale Medical Center in Phoenix and admitted as a patient. The bleeding continued for a week. After a consultation with the surgeon, a Sunday evening emergency operation was performed resulting in the removal of half of the colon and appendix. The surgeon informed me that the condition was attributed to stress from my former occupation as a police officer for twenty-eight years. The doctor indicated that long periods of riding in a car over a long period of time can agitate the condition. He indicated that I was also fortunate to the fact that there was no cancer.
The purpose of this article is to forewarn the men and women of the police profession that the possibility of this condition can exist in their own professional lives. Keep in mind that I was once a fearless young man in tiptop condition. The surgeon advised that only five percent of the patients undergoing this procedure do not require a colostomy. I was one of the lucky five percenters!!!!
Be Safe!. Be Careful!
John H. Briant Retired New York State Trooper Uniform 14 years BCI 14 years 1953 to 1982