Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Prostate Cancer Treatment - Next Step

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:


  1. Do nothing
  2. Remove prostate
  3. Cryotherapy - freeze the prostate
  4. Hormone therapy - turn into a woman
  5. Directed radiation
  6. 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










26 comments:

  1. Good news indeed! And thank you for telling us all about this is such detail; you're doing a great public service!

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    1. You're quite welcome Buddy. Maybe some good will come out of my experience so others know what to expect. It's not the end of the world. I've already went through the worst, which was the biopsy procedure itself.

      Ron

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  2. oh dear lawdy! the position "in the saddle" is quite familiar to this female; that's what WE have to do for the "annual female plumbing" exam.

    yes, the "breezeway" gown is pretty on you, but a bit too exposed for the spo-a-thon. now, the ruby slippers OTOH...

    YAYZ for great news about seed therapy!

    now go and give bill a big hug, tell him you are sorry for being surly, and bake him something he likes.

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    1. Anne Marie,

      More than once my women friends remind me that invasive and humiliating procedures like what I went through yesterday is di rigueur for them. Good news about qualifying for seed implant without the need to turn into a woman.

      Ron

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  3. I know you are going to have the seeds implanted but you are not getting the hormones, right? (because you don't need the hormones to have the gland shrunk since yours is not enlarged).
    I was thinking about all the pap smears women go through during our yearly visits. It is what it is. Modesty is ignored and it only takes few minutes for this unpleasant moment.
    Hang in there Ron, all will be well in the long run.
    I am sure Bill is very worried too. You better make amends!

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    1. Nadege,

      No, I am not getting the hormone treatment. Not necessary because my prostate is the right size.

      Yes, I now appreciate what you women have to go through. I have been reminded of this more than once. Modesty is definitely ignored. I'm sort of used to it by now. Sort of anyway.

      Ron

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  4. I always love your choice of pics for your posts.

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    1. Thanks Cubby! I like looking for the appropriate pics to put up. I think they add color to the posting.

      Ron

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  5. Two things I always remind myself: the only way out is through and if you're going through hell, keep going to the other side. Wishing you strength and endurance through all of this.

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    1. Sean,

      It seems like the last year my life has been working around doctor's appointments and procedures. I look forward to the day when I can have at least six months off, doctor free.

      Thanks for your encouragement. Always appreciated.

      Ron

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  6. I'm so glad that you have reason to smile again! I was smiling at the humorous observations you had during the procedure. Your vivid descriptions made me feel exactly like I had been there (Ouch!).
    This is one more hurdle that you've cleared - - and one less that you'll have to worry about.

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    1. Jon,

      Exactly the way I feel, one more hurdle that I've cleared. This one I was particularly worried about. Other than having my legs up in the air like I was in a sling in a gay bathhouse, it was relatively painless. For my next procedure I told them to knock me out which they agreed to do. Then hopefully I can get on with my life without too many side effects from the seed impact procedure.

      Ron

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  7. I'm glad it went well. Miserably well, but well. See you in a week for SOME REAL FUN!!!

    Peace <3
    Jay

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    Replies
    1. Looking forward to it Jay! I'm glad I'm done with this procedure, now I can concentrate on the upcoming Bloogerpalooza.

      Ron

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  8. How is there room for 80-90 radioactive seeds in a normal sized prostate??? There won't be any room left for the cancer cells, or cum-producing cells, or anything else!!!

    You are such a good story teller, that you can make anything like a morbid procedure, funny. Great sense of humor, Ron!

    And I did like your smock with the breezeway in the back. You know, considering the kind of procedure you were having and that modesty goes out the window, why didn't they have you put in on with the breezeway in the front?

    David

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    1. David,

      How is there room for 80 to 90 seeds? Good question! I wondered that myself. Some have 100 seeds implanted! Those seeds must be very teeny tiny.

      Hey, I have to make my "adventures" funny or else I would get very depressed. After all, isn't life one big comedy? Well, sort of anyway.

      No "breezeway" out front thank you.

      Ron

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  9. The last photo is the best one of course. You are marvelous at your prose; it captures everything in detail.
    Keep up your youthful heart now !

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    1. Thank you Dr. Spo. Your opinion is always valued here.

      Ron

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  10. I was so apprehensive just reading about it - you are brave, my friend. And yes, we always seem to take it out on the ones closest to us - go get an ice cream sundae with Bill. Just sunshine and calories!

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    1. Iberostar,

      Talk about apprehensive.....was I ever. I am so glad that I "qualify" for seed implant and don't have to undergo hormone treatment to reduce the size of my prostate. Thank God for small favors. Next up is the Big One, the seed implant itself which is set for May 2nd.

      I made up with Bill. We're all right now.

      Ron

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  11. Can I undergo different hormone treatment to reduce hot flashes and swollen boobies and weight gain and all those other inconveniences? My prostate is already so shrunken it's undetectable.

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    1. Java,

      That I don't know. You'll have to check with your doctor. I already know too much. I just want to get past this and move on. Get back to normal.

      Ron

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  12. So far, this is the best and the most inspirational blog I've read. Thank you so much! Keep on inspiring a lot of people. Have a nice day.

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    1. Thank you very much for your kind and generous comment. On May 2nd I had my prostate procedure, seed implants. I am happy to say that the results of my last blood test showed my PSA score was 1.9, down from the pre procedure score of 8.4. I'm going in the right direction! Have a great day!

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  13. I'm glad that the procedure went well. I love how honest you are with your situation, you are such an inspiration. This just proves that sometimes it is alright to be grumpy because of circumstances, but you must also realize that you are one and should apologize once you've collected your thoughts, just like what you did here. Documenting about your personal experience on prostate cancer can actually help other patients who are in the same ordeal.

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    1. Thank you for your comment. I am doing well six months out from my procedure. I hope all continues to go well. I will share all my experiences, both bad and good. Have a great day!

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