Friday, September 18, 2015

Testing, Testing

So according to my doctor and to the tiny camera he used to peek inside my bladder, I am, for the time being, cancer-free.

The days before a test, called a cystoscopy, I don’t sleep well at all. Years ago, my sister died of bladder cancer. More recently, a friend was diagnosed with the disease, and as the morning of the procedure approaches, I can’t help but going over the various nasty possibilities. The worst of these is that the surgeon would want to remove my bladder entirely and fashion a new one from intestinal tissue. The new one would not work as well as the old one. In fact, my understanding is that a catheter would be involved full-time, and, after giving this option far too much thought, I’ve decided I probably would not want to live that way.  

So yesterday morning, the doctor did not mutter, “Uh ho,” which he has said in the past when he saw things down there he didn’t like. He did not shake his head, or purse his lips, or furrow his brow, signs that all is not well. This week, he smiled, shook my hand, and said, “See you in three months.”  The nurse told me to put my shorts back on and wished me a good day, and the sun shone bright in an azure sky. The test came out negative, which is good news, obviously. I’m breaking my own record of being clean for approximately seven months now, and I am willing to take a bow. If the next two tests follow suit, I will go from three- to six-months intervals between cystoscopies, and I will be very grateful because, just between you and me, a cystoscopy is not a trip to Disneyworld, or even Seven Flags.

I’ve always seen my cancer cells as nasty little squatters that leave beer cans and Burger King wrappers behind; I think it’s entirely possible that the cells finally decided to find a better, more congenial host. After all, every time they’ve so far made a foray in my body, they were spotted, cut out, or incinerated, or flooded with nasty chemicals and chased out of the community. Who’d want to stay in a neighborhood where no one makes you feel welcome and everyone is out to get you? Not me.

I have done a few things differently since my initial diagnosis three years ago, though I can’t swear any of it has a thing to do with a remission…

I upped my intake of water; I drink it with wedges of lime because I read somewhere that citrus has a sort of internal detergent value. I cut down on red meat. I stopped putting artificial sweetener in my tea or coffee, and gave up diet drinks. I started eating more fruit and green stuff and nuts. I abandoned egg yolks, pork sausages (except on the occasional Saturday designated as an Official Pork Product Day [OPPD]), bacon (see preceding sentence), butter, and pretty much everything white—sugar, flour, and rice. I have tried, and tried and tried, and failed, to give up bread. While I have let go of many things over the years—tobacco, alcohol, drugs, dubious women, motorcycles, inline skates, and 12-string guitars—bread still defies me.

Today, I’m clean. Still, I’m sure that (people with delicate eyes should avert them now) I’ll be looking down for traces of blood every time I pee, and any discomfort down there will be cause for alarm. It’s going to take a while to get past the habits I’ve formed over the last few years.

But right now, it’s all good.

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