Thursday, August 29, 2013

Well crap!

“Not bad,” says the doctor, looking at the screen, “Not bad at all.” There’s a long tube with a teeny camera attached and my innards are bright pink on the screen. “Yes,” he says, “this is g--. Oh. Well.”

“Oh. Well.” is the equivalent of “Uh ho,” which was my former doctor’s expression when he spotted something he didn’t like.

“I thought we were good, but there are two little tumors there. Not bad ones, though…”

“Surgery again?” I ask.

“Oh yeah.”

Doctors aren’t supposed to say, “Oh yeah” in that offhand manner, like they’re ordering the Turkey Mile High after the 18th hole at the country club.   

Well crap. This will be the sixth bladder cancer surgery in less than three years. I know the drill by heart, and I am sooo tired of it. Full recovery, where I feel myself again, takes about three months. The first two weeks are truly unpleasant. I won’t get into the details about how a full grown man feels when he has to pee every twelve minutes, which, all in all, is still better than having a catheter attached to my private bits.

I sit on the examination bed with the paper blanket on my lap. The doctor shakes my hand since we are, after all, partners in this endeavor, aren’t we? The nurse busies herself. I’m trying to collect my thoughts.  She says, “You can leave now.” I know, this and wish endless catheters upon her in her old age. I try to remember if this is the same nurse who once asked me if I was sure of how to spell my name.

Double crap. I had convinced myself this would go one of two ways: either I’d be clean and cancer-free for the third time, or the doctor would tell me he’d have to take out my bladder, and I would say, no, that’s not going to happen, because that’s something I decided when I was first diagnosed. I’m not going to live with a permanent tube draining the urine out of me. There are limits to impropriety. I was not ready for the “not bad, just a couple of small tumors.”

I go home, stop at Starbuck’s and buy a donut, which I swore a few months ago I would give up and, until just now, had managed to do. Not today. The donut tastes really good and I can feel each and every 280 calorie dancing in my mouth; a tango, I think. 

When I was first told about the cancer by a doctor who refused to use the C-word, I walked home from the medical office and stopped to eat something at two Starbucks, one pizza place, one Panera, one Caribou Coffee and one more pizza place. Then I got home and threw up. After the third surgery, I went through a depression as deep as a black hole. This, I learned, is not an uncommon side effect. In fact, post-surgical depression has its very own entry in the latest Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders and more than ten pages of entries in Google. It was never mentioned by any medical personnel.

So come September 20, it’s back to the hospital, to the anesthesiologists who will lecture me on my refusal to take painkilling drugs, to the surgeon who will undoubtedly leave after the operation without letting me know whether it was success or not, and, I almost forgot, back to peeing blood…








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