Friday, August 10, 2012

Bring in the Legion

“You’re not gonna like this,” said The Good Doctor, TGD from here on. No surprises there, I haven’t liked much of anything TGD has done to and for me in the past year. Three surgeries, five or six bladder exams, enough drawn blood to make a good-sized boudin sausage, hours in the waiting room, the pre-op room, the post-op room and an entire collection of dehumanizing moments as various people handle various parts of my body, that. in my estimation should be handled only by someone near and dear. Now TGD is telling me I have to undergo six weeks of something called Bacillus Calmette-Guérin therapy to eradicate the cancer in my bladder. The treatment, he says, was invented in France, which of course makes me feel better, but, he adds, no one really knows how the therapy works, it simply does, most of the time, just like a lot of things do in France.

So I do my research.  What I have is a condition called low grade noninvasive papillary urothelial carcinoma (LGNPUC), a not particularly sexy type of cancer with a really bad acronym. There doesn’t seem to be a lot written about this particular malady, so here’s my take on it:  Imagine you have a nice home and you go on vacation and when you come back, an extended family of truly malicious squatters has taken over the place; there are a few dozen of them and they inhabit every nook and cranny of your house, using the pool without showering first and not flushing as often as they should. They cook really nasty smelling food on a campfire in the middle of your living room, don’t mow the lawn and never separate the recyclables. Basically, these are not the people you invite to the country club. Instead, you call the sheriff (TGD) who, after a brief tussles, evicts them (surgery). The sheriff is justifiably proud of his work and declares you squatter-free, but wait! He’s wrong! He returns a second time, performs another eviction, but it’s pretty obvious that these squatters are resilient and sneaky; they practice guerrilla warfare.  So the sheriff (TGD) calls in Bacillus Calmette-Guérin, the French S.W.A.T. team. Or maybe it’s the French Foreign Legion, I’m not sure.

At any rate, Monday in a week, noxious chemicals will be injected into my bladder. Then I will pretend I am a chicken on a rotisserie spit and spin horizontally for a while so said bladder is coated with the poisonous substance. After that,, more than likely, I will get sick, puke, and go home. I’ll do this six times over the next six weeks. Since I do not want to puke good food, I plan to stock up on raisin bran, Twinkies and Slim Jims.

All this is unpleasant but the alternatives could have been far worse.  At one time, TGD thought I had Carcinoma in Situ, and combating that is the chemotherapy equivalent of World War One trench warfare.

By comparison, LGNPUC is small pommes frites.

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