The “C” Word: Coming Clean

I had another blog post all ready to go this week – pictures pulled, cutlines written, keywords in place, etc.* – when suddenly I had a Midge Maisel moment**: an interruption of prosaic thought with impulsive realization. Not quite an epiphany, but close.

You see, I’ve tried really hard not to spend a lot of time talking about my dark passenger within these pages. I’ve skirted around the topic, but I’ve never really faced it head on. I didn’t want to be too much of a downer and, also, I wasn’t quite ready to talk about it.

That changed recently. Funny what a disheartening check-up will do. Like it or not, the last grain dropped into the bottom of the hourglass and it all became real. And so, since it’s really all I can think about, right now, I’m going to talk about it. Put your trays in the upright, locked position and buckle your seatbelts, it’s gonna be a bumpy ride.

As a summation for those who may not have been paying attention, I was diagnosed with prostate cancer in February of 2017. I was told two days before my 56th birthday. It was a real buzz kill, and even an already arranged trip to Denver with friends the following weekend wasn’t enough to shake me out of it. The legalized weed helped, but not enough to mask the devastation I felt. I was numb from the neck up.

Upon returning home***, I began making phone calls to set up the requisite appointments with urologist, oncologist and radiologist. Then I started researching. By the time summer rolled around, I was very well educated on the dry rot setting up shop in my goo gourd. As such, I decided that I wasn’t keen on any of the “choices” being presented to me. The list reads like an excerpt from Torquemada’s Big Book Of Acceptable Abominations.

“You may feel a little pinch, but it will all be over soon,” said Dr. Torquemada disingenuously.

Surgery comes with a plethora of aftereffects, including incontinence and, you know, a limp wick. Also, a possibility of no orgasms ever again and, because the urethra runs through the prostate after it leaves the bladder, the removal of the prostate means a shortening of the urethra, which is both painful and emasculating. Nope.

Radiation was never an option, as far as I was concerned****. I’ve seen way too many Godzilla movies and read WAY too many X-Men comic books to trust radiation. Horror stories abound. I mean, cripes, did you see what that irradiated spider did to that Parker kid? Fucked up…

Anyway, the reality of the situation is that there wouldn’t be any real adverse effects from radiation for another 10 or 15 years, when the organs inadvertently showered with plutonium oversplash begin to make their mutations known, by sprouting mouths, or tentacles… or tentacles with mouths… Hell no. shudder.

And finally hormones. Estrogen to be exact, though it goes by the name Lupron. These are the same hormones used in sexual reassignment procedures. You know what those are, I don’t have to explain it. Effects include: breast growth, testicle shrinkage, hair loss and tightening of vocal cords. None of which is reversible. Fuck that. Don’t get me wrong, I have a strong appreciation for mammary glands, just not on me. I’ll take the voracious gut goblin over saggy tatas, thank you very much.

I may be closing in on 60, but I am still very sexually active***** and I’m not AT ALL ready to give that up. All three of the options outlined above are known to cause, as a direct result of the treatments, a possibility of impotence and a decrease in sexual desire. Who wants that?! You might as well be asking me to let somebody stab me in the eyes with dirty shrimp forks, or run over my hands with a lawnmower/lemon juicer. Gruesome, but that’s exactly how I view the twisted procedures prescribed to “cure” me.

As you may have guessed, I politely declined the proffered atrocities, opting instead to go the more natural route, i.e. the more controversial and not readily acceptable route, unrecognized by insurance companies, family members and, occasionally, my own loving husband. That path consisted of a strict whole foods diet, lots of smoothies, vitamins and supplements, occasional exercise† and lots of positive thinking‡.

I wanted to believe, Mr. President. I really did…

Yes, I tried my best to be a hippie, for all the good it did. Almost a year later, my PSA (Prostate Specific Antigen) levels are inching into the cause-for-concern range. But HEY! I sure am healthy for a guy my age with prostate cancer! There’s that…

There’s no reason to go into any more detail here, because we come now to the entire reason I’m coming clean about this crap to begin with. (I know, it’s about damned time, sorry.) I am currently in the process of setting up a schedule to undergo proton radiation treatments. A fairly new procedure, it has over the last few years become a very popular form of torture therapy amongst those with my affliction§. It’s intensive. Five times a week for nine straight weeks.

Unfortunately, there are only 23 places in the United States that practice the procedure, the closest being the Mayo Clinic in Phoenix. There are a few other highly rated medical centers that offer the procedure, including Loma Linda in California and MD Anderson in Houston, but I don’t know anybody in those cities. I do have people in Phoenix. Very important people, actually. Finding a place to stay shouldn’t be a problem. Plenty of support. And there’s the whole familiarity thing.

So, it looks like I’ll be packing up my bags and spending a few months on the fringes of fire and brimstone from which I escaped almost ten years ago. I’m waiting to find out when they can see me at the Mayo. I’m thinking it may be a few months before they can fit me in. How ironic will it be if I find myself back there in August, on the tenth anniversary of my departure? (See ***) Time will tell…

Ah, Phoenix in the summertime… I can’t wait!

This is going to be a very unexpected adventure and it will no doubt change my life. For the better or worst, I have no idea, but I’ve been given a unique (to me) opportunity to use this platform to discuss the upcoming series of events as they unfold. For good or ill, I’m going to become that guy for a while. I promise it won’t be constant and it won’t last any longer than the experience itself. Unless that unleashes its own series of events, in which case… we’ll see.

In the meantime and barring any more seismic shifts in the pangea of my quickly changing world, I will return next week with the post I had planned for today. After all, I do have other things to talk about besides the termite infestation in my tickle box. And, hey, I’ll also be shooting a movie at the end of May, so there will be that to talk about, too. Who knows… maybe I’ll even start posting more than once a week. Oooooooooooohhhh… yeah, probably not…

Can blogs have footnotes? This one can!

* Give me a break, I spent thirty-plus years as an editor.

** If you haven’t yet seen The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel on Amazon Prime, you absolutely must! It’s smart, snappy and beautifully acted. Just my two cents…

*** Give or take a month or so of denial.

**** If you haven’t figured it out yet, there’s a lesson coming concerning the verification of the idiom, ‘one should NEVER say never.’

***** If you just thought, or said out loud, “ew, gross,” you may be on the wrong page. I can still dance fuck rings around most of you rudimentary post-virgins. Don’t you forget it, either. Whippersnappers.

Shut up, Donny.

I said, SHUT UP!

§ Everywhere but Las Cruces apparently, where we are once again about ten years behind the curve.

5 thoughts on “The “C” Word: Coming Clean

  1. I went the surgery route in late March (about 6-weeks ago); no significant incontinence as soon as the catheter came out (what little has occurred has been in the early weeks after sneezing and other unexpected movements; six weeks later and it’s nada); no limp wick; definitely orgasms, but different than before; all-in-all much better than expected.

    However, the surgeon couldn’t get everything, so I’m gearing up for 7 weeks, each weekday, for radiotherapy.

    I wish you the best of luck.

    1. Oh, wow. That’s actually much better than anybody else I’ve heard from. Most of the men I talked to have horror stories to relate, so I have been VERY reluctant to undergo surgery. The few who don’t have horror stories usually finish by saying, “I wasn’t really getting much use out it anyway, because of my age, so no big loss…” It would be for me. And I’m so sorry to hear that it wasn’t completely successful. It’s always something, huh? Good luck in your future treatments. I’ll follow along in your blog as you make your journey.

      1. The surgeon was excellent; he was recommended by another patient with an even better success story than mine. The procedure was done with a “da Vinci Surgical System” and the surgeon is super-experienced, with ~2,500 successful operations under his belt.

        Visually, he got everything. However, detailed pathology revealed that there were microscopic breaches (at least two that we know of), thus the reason for the radiotherapy.

        For me, the worst part was the overnight stay in the hospital and the catheter. Everything else has been nothing like was I had braced for; truly a superb outcome.

        If you reconsider, let me know and I’ll put you in touch with him. I cannot recommend him enough.

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