I’m a sitting staring at a blank screen trying to write a follow-up post to that last one.
I wrote this really cool and detailed outline for these posts to bring everyone up to date – the whys, whens, wherefores and all that good stuff. Yeah, blew past that 12 paragraphs ago and haven’t been anywhere near it since. And these posts were supposed to be humorous. You should read some of the emails I’ve written to friends about what is happening – some of those emails are drop dead funny. Um, we won’t use that phrase anymore…
I’m still here figuring out what to write. Just reread that last post – failed at the humor thing and I have a strong desire to apologize for it. Now I feel the need to explain somethings and since this is MY blog I get to do just that. So there!
The feeling that something was wrong started several months before the PSA test. It was a vague feeling of being unwell. It’s hard to explain but I just felt something was wrong with my body. I was having more aches, pains, going to the toilet more often, not feeling as energetic, and feeling just plain old. Something was wrong so when it was time for my physical I decided that I’d get everything I could checked out. I even took a long list of things to the doctor to talk about.
But the only thing my doctor could find wrong was an elevated PSA test – everything else was normal for “a man of my age.” grrrr.
Then when the second PSA test results came in I was reminded of my father. About being his caregiver and having to deal with all his medical problems as the strokes slowly destroyed his brain and took his life. Every call from the doctor, every visit to the hospital meant that he had lost another bit of health and vigor and had moved one step closer to dying. The progression was continuous, long and filled with loss.
That is when the fear first hit me hard – what will I lose after seeing the urologist?
And I knew it had to be cancer – I just knew but routinely denied it, to myself and everyone around me. After all it’s just silly to assume the worst based on little information. But I just knew.
I remembered the Christmas before my mother died. One day she announced that she had breast cancer. No, she hadn’t been to see a doctor but she just “knew.” She had a pain and knew it had to be cancer. Now, I am more rational than my mother, and after talking to her I was convinced that she was having heart problems and got her to agree to let me take her to the cardiologist. Between that decision and seeing the cardiologist she had a side trip to the urgent care clinic where a scan detected a tumor on her liver. In the end it turned out to be pancreatic cancer. We never saw the cardiologist. My mother died of cancer three months after her first declaration.
I remembered standing in a hospital hallway talking to a doctor about whether or not they should operate on my father. I started to second guess myself – what if I chose wrong? What if? How can I make those kind of decisions? That hallway at the VA still haunts me and troubles my mind in time of darkness and doubt.
And now a simple test, a prudent request of by my doctor and all those old memories, fears, and pain flood back. I recall. I remember. Then project into the future – how can I make those decisions for myself?
I wanted to scream at God and say, “Damn you, I’ve done this for two people. Don’t make me walk this path again.”
I didn’t scream it but I did say it, quietly, privately, with the lights out. Don’t worry, God has a sense of humor even when you don’t and knows when I am being melodramatic. Yes the lightning bolts were my fault, sorry.
So, there I was with bad memories, fears and an appointment to see a urologist. I’ll now admit to not being smart enough to, “not go to google and do a few searches.” After filtering though the wackos it was clear that the doctor would/should recommend a prostate biopsy to which there are a few realistic possible results:
- nothing is wrong – that is your normal PSA level
- prostatitis – an infection that a few drugs will cure
- cancer that doesn’t need to be treated at this time
- cancer that needs some treatment
- cancer that requires we rip out your prostate out as soon as possible.
Okay, the last one is just me being melodramatic and engaging in unfounded and unreasonable fears but still it will wake me at three in the morning and require a lot of beating down to get back to sleep.
My first visit to the urologist included answering an embarrassing questionnaire (I mean talk about deeply private and personal) and a “digital rectal exam.” (yes he sticks that there) The doctor found nothing obviously wrong. My prostate was normal size and performing all its functions properly.
Of course the biopsy was recommended and scheduled. It is the only way to rule out cancer but the doctor reassured me that there was a 75% chance that it wasn’t cancer and it was likely that I just have a normally higher PSA number than average.
Then I was given the patient preparation instructions for the procedure and a date for the procedure – December 7th. A day that will…
No I won’t do that line.
Next post – everything you never wanted to know about a prostate biopsy.