|Bill entering Cancer Treatment Center this morning|
Today was my next step in my prostate cancer treatment. Of course I was dreading my appointment today at 10:30 am. I didn't get much sleep last night, expecting a similar experience that I had with my prostate biopsy experience at the end of January.
|Bill entering the Cancer Treatment Center|
Poor Bill, I'm afraid I took my bad mood out on him. I have to make amends for that in the next few days. I'll admit it, I'm no Valerie Harper who can go on TV and tell everyone how happy she is in spite of her brain cancer diagnosis. In fact, while we were in the waiting room this morning, she was on TV with Piers Morgan extolling how she is so grateful for the years she's had on this earth (as am I) and demonstrating how she is going to make the most of every day she has left on this earth (as am I). However, I do have a hard time dispelling and making light of the very invasive procedures that I am going through now but considering the alternative...... Anyway, I was abrupt and dismissive of Bill this morning as he was trying to make small talk and I was wrong. He was just trying to help.
This morning's procedure was called a "volume" test. Basically that is to measure my prostate to make sure it is the right size (not enlarged) to accommodate the eighty to ninety radio-active seeds to be implanted in my prostate.
|Patiently waiting (with my legs clenched)|
I wasn't encouraged by another patient in the waiting room. He was sitting there, clenching and unclenching his fists, red face, and looking very uncomfortable. I introduced myself and found out that he was also waiting for my doctor. Our doctor was running over an hour late so we had plenty of time to talk.
He told me that he has been undergoing hormone therapy for the past four months to reduce the size of his prostate so he can have the seeds implanted. He said he was having a very hard time with the side effects of the hormone therapy, which is the female hormone estrogen. He told me he always has hot flashes, and in fact was almost always "hot from the inside out." He also said he had put on weight and has a hard time sleeping. He didn't say anything about the size of his breasts but I know from another man who underwent this hormone treatment that men do grow breasts. Just what I need. I already have man-boobs where I used to have pecs, just another bonus of getting older (AH-NOLD also has them so there).
|Me and my friend Ron H. with "breasts" - 1964|
I really felt sorry for this guy because he's been going through his uncomfortable state for four months Man oh man, I don't know if I want to do that. I would just get my prostate taken out first. He was finally called in at 11:30 am (his appointment was at 10, my appointment was for 10:30).
Half an hour later I was called in. "Jessica" takes me to a side curtained off space (no rooms in the assembly line area, just curtained off areas). She tells me to take everything off "below the waist" (been there before) but that I could keep on my "shoes and socks" (that statement always reminds me of a porn actor...not that I would know, I heard).
She gives me one of those gowns that have the breezeway in the back. Lovely.
|"Take off everything below your waist and put this on." (Nice pattern)|
While I'm waiting for my doctor I hear him talking to a man in the curtained off area next to mine. That man was also in for a "volume check". He told the man that "80 to 90% of the hormone therapy works to reduce the size of the prostate, unfortunately you're falling into the 10% where it didn't work."
With baited breath and furrowed brow I listen to the patient's response to that bombshell "What do I do now doc?" The doctor pauses then goes over the Standard Six options for prostate cancer treatment:
- Do nothing
- Remove prostate
- Cryotherapy - freeze the prostate
- Hormone therapy - turn into a woman
- Directed radiation
- Seed implant
The doctor told him that the last option was probably out unless he wanted to try another FOUR MONTHS of hormone therapy. There was a long silence from the patient. Then he started to question the doctor again. The doctor said "Maybe you should think about this and we'll discuss it during our office visit." Then my doctor left this dejected patient and pulled open my curtained cubicle to see me sitting there in my pretty little patterned outfit with the "breezeway back." Wouldn't you like to see one of those outfits on the red carpet at the Oscars? Just saying.
|Ron is none to happy waiting - showing every day of my 71 years|
So I was none to comfortable hearing all this. Was my prostate too big and I would have to take estrogen and turn into a hot flash man-woman? I may be gay but I never had the urge to turn into a woman. I've always been quite happy in my male body. I don't even like high heels.
|Ruby Red Slippers!!!!!|
So my doctor explains the procedure that I'm about to undergo. Then he leaves while the nurse (who was very nice and understanding) prepares me. She tells me that this procedure is nothing like "what you guys go through when you have a biopsy." God, I hope so. That biopsy procedure was personally approved by our former vice president Dick Cheney as his preferred method of torture to gather intelligence. And yes, when I had my biopsy I did divulge that I met with Mohamed Atta in Prague. Good one Dick. You're the man (and war criminal but I digress).
|Darth Vadar aka former Vice President Dick Cheney - head of torture and death|
Thus it was with great trepidation that I exited my curtained cubby hole and made my grand entrance on the main floor with my pretty little opened back dress and loafers to the curtained area where my rectum will again receive visitor (actually a camera on a stick).
|Ain't I cute? Maybe I should wear this to the Bloggerpalooza|
I enter the inner sanctum and am greeted by a very pleasant female nurse. By the way, where ARE THE MALE nurses? I heard men can take up the nursing profession. Where are they? I sure as heck don't see them in my adventures.
So I'm "back in the saddle" again, so to speak. And boy am I ever. I get on the pommel horse (or whatever you call that thing you lay on) and get the usual request "scoot on down." So I "scoot on down". I didn't "scoot" far enough. I "scoot" some more. The doctor looks and says "perfect." While I'm laying there all "scooted down" I'm thinking "is anything in the way?" You know. After all, modesty definitely doesn't come into play here when we're exploring one's prostate gland.
|"In The Saddle"|
Then the doctor and nurse pull out the "stirrups." Here we go, "ride 'em cowboy!" Man oh man, these stirrups were high up. I place my feet in them and my legs are almost vertical. I'll give you a few moments to picture this in your head. Yep, I'm pretty darn well...um.....exposed. Just then a fleeting thought goes through my head, what if this was a requirement for a job interview. No secrets here.
So there I am, feets in the air, sucking air. Then I hear those magic words "now just relax." Oh yeah, I've heard that phrase before, under different circumstances. Usually with not so much light or a female present. Uh huh. We won't go there now, that's another whole story.
I'm relaxed. Now comes the "fun" part. Yes, the doctor puts an instrument up my rectum that has a camera on it. He's going to measure my prostate to determine if it is the right size for seed implant. Yes, he's going to check to make sure I have a "Goldielocks" prostate. Not too big, not too small, but just right.
After fifteen LONG minutes of probing (no painful but "full") and several "um's" and "ah's", he pulls out my visitor. He tells me that my prostate is exactly the same size as my urologist had measured. I ask him "Is that good or bad?" He gives me a non-answer and says "It's the same." Hmmmm.
The nurse tells me to swing my legs down they've been over my head). I asked "Am I finished?" She said "Yes", and that I could return to my previous curtained cubicle where Bill awaits me. By the way, Bill is allowed to accompany me every where during these procedure except the actual procedure itself which I think is so considerate and thoughtful of the medical establishment today. I remember in the bad old days where the patient had to undergo all these procedures by themselves without any family support. God bless the medical establishment for finally seeing the light.
I gather myself together, making sure the back is closed and walk back to where Bill awaits me. I take off my flowered smock and put my underwear and pants on (feels good!) and await the doctor with much apprehension. Oh God I don't want to be one of those guys who has to have their prostate shrunk by taking female hormones. I had almost decided that if I was presented with that alternative I was just going to have my prostate removed and be done with it. There is no way I'm going to go through four months or more of hot flashes and wearing a bra.
My doctor comes in. He tells me my prostate is normal size and ready for seed implants. YES! I give him the thumbs up. He looks at me quizzically. I guess he's not used to seeing any of his patients giving him a thumbs up after a "volume" procedure.
He tells me they will be in touch with me as to the date when I get the seed implants.
Thus I passed another hurdle in my current medical adventure. One more procedure and then maybe I can get my life back to normal. Can't happen soon enough. Then maybe I can start being nice to Bill. This isn't easy for him either. I need to start smiling again.
|The Old Ron|