Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Invasive? Whaddya Mean Invasive?

All told, I was happy with the results of the latest cancer test. No tumors, no area needing special attention. As always, I worried beforehand. There have been a couple of dozen cystoscopies in three years; only two have ever come back clean, and even after that, the cancer, that nasty, unwanted guest, managed to return.

The nurse has prepared me for the examination, and I think of the old joke: normally, when a woman handles me that way, a dinner and a movie were involved.

I’m lying on an examining table, wearing one of those paper horrors that never close right and show your butt. I am fixated on a small tear in one of the ceiling tiles. I focus on that because what is happening definitely does not feel good. Then I watch my doctor watch the screen depicting my innards as he moves a tiny camera up my urethrae and into my bladder.

“Looks good,” he says after a minute or two, and gives me a pat on the shoulder. He strips off his blue latex gloves and tosses them into the wastebasket. He adjusts his tie.

“I was worried,” he adds. “The last procedure found some new cells, invasive ones. So I was holding my breath… But right now it looks as if everything is all right. You’ll just have to be extra vigilant.”

I like my doctor. He has a toothy grin and the look of a somewhat frustrated bon vivant. He enjoys life and told me he brought in the New Year by drinking a little too much with his neighbors.  I answered that I was glad he wasn’t operating on me January first.  He said, “Oh no, the hospital is closed then.” Then he got it and went, “Ha! Ha ha! Yes! Ha!”  

I suppose that ethically, he had to tell me about the last surgery’s test results, and I’m grateful he didn’t pass that information on last March, because I would have worried for three straight months. But still, that news tarnished the silver cloud.

This being said, I’m particularly happy not to have to be put under again. I really believe that being anesthetized isn’t good for my health, and that essentially being put in a supervised coma—that’s how one doctor described it—nine times in three years could have negative and lasting implications. I remember reading about brain cell loss among patients with high anesthesia rates…

Today, though, I think I’m going to opt for being happy. I have every intention of making myself a prosciutto provolone mortadella sweet peppers camembert and baby tomato sandwich on a French baguette. There will be mustard and olive oil and vinegar from the south of France. I will eat half-a-jar of those tiny little pickles you folks call gherkins and my folks call cornichons. I will make an excellent salad with spinach, Belgian endives and macadamia nuts but, since I’ll be full from the sandwich, I probably won’t eat it right now. I’ll nibble on it later today as I watch the FIFA Women’s World Cup, which is the best televised sport of the decade. I will then drink a quadruple decaf espresso, and sleep the sleep of the blessed.

All in all, so far, a good day.



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