Since this column relates to cancer, and I’m promotions chair for the Noble County Relay for Life, I’d be remiss if I didn’t again mention that worthy organization’s need for both donations and people to help in organizing and holding the Relay. Please go to their website, or contact any Relay member, to help out in any way you can:
SLIGHTLY OFF THE MARK
I thought some of you might be interested in an update about my health. Now that I’m running for Town Council again, a serious illness could cause a crisis of power and questions of a peaceful transition of government.
Okay, I didn’t think all that many of you would be interested in my health, but not meeting my column deadline could harm my financial health.
How long ago did my cancer scare started? A couple of years, I suppose. I got a PSA test, which stands for ... let’s see … Prostate Specific Antigen. Yay, my memory’s okay!
The PSA numbers were a little high, so they sent me to a urologist. You’d think a urologist would involve himself in urine, wouldn’t you? I mean, the name and all. I figured the guy would say, “Pee in a cup.”
Instead he said, “Pull down your pants and bend over”.
I’m not going to identify the doctor. He’s a very nice guy and probably wouldn’t mind, but would you shake his hand if you knew what he did for a living? I’m trying out various nicknames for him, though, starting with “Doctor Plunger”.
Honestly, I couldn’t describe what he looks like. I haven’t been able to look him in the eyes since then, although I did buy flowers and ask him to keep in touch.
The numbers were just high enough that he decided to send me in for a prostate biopsy. In the interest of public service I won’t describe the procedure, because men should be willing to get one. You can probably figure it out for yourself, though. The only thing I had going for me is that I was down in Fort Wayne, and the doctor was a guy, and who would understand my discomfort more?
Except the person doing the procedure turned out to be female, who’s related to the lady who cuts my hair.
I’ll never show up at one of their family gatherings.
The biopsy came back okay. No cancer, but a couple of cells that could be thinking about being cancer. Kind of pre-pre-cancer, or maybe cancer wannabes. After going over the results, Doctor Fat Finger and I decided to keep an eye on things with periodic PSA tests. It’s the most thankful I’ve ever been to get a needle in the arm, instead of other places where it could have gone.
The problem is, the next PSA rating more than doubled.
I wasn’t scared of getting cancer. I was scared of getting another biopsy. How misguided is that? I do remember being very angry about the possibility that I might die before getting my first novel published, but now that Storm Chaser’s release has been scheduled for June of this year I think I’m pretty safe. (See how I slipped that free publicity in there? Always be closing.)
After thinking on It (Not literally on it – ew), Doctor Roto-Rooter decided the PSA might have been taken too close to the biopsy, leaving open the possibility that my poor, abused prostate (Could they at least buy me dinner before the next exam?) was throwing off higher numbers because of being overstimulated. Um, insert a joke of your own, I’m not going there. I said insert. Heh.
This leads me to today. Well, not literally today – it’s been a few months ago for you, the somewhat queasy reader of this fascinating medical thriller. January’s always bad for me, but this one seemed a bit worse. I’d managed to hurt my back shoveling snow, I was struggling with the decision of
whether to run again for Town Council, we barely survived a drive in a snowstorm, and my carefully planned schedule degenerated into me missing every
one of my non-work appointments for most of the month.
Not a great start to the year. Then I received the call that my new PSA reading was 6.0 – almost exactly the same as last time.
Good news? Bad? Should I start working on my bucket list, or worry that Doctor Seymour Butts was going to want something else shoved up my bucket?
When I got in to see him, his response was: “Drop your pants and bend over”.
I had to spend the rest of the appointment staring at the floor.
Still, he had cautiously good news. My levels hadn’t risen, there were no other symptoms, and my prostate … well, there’s no delicate way to say it felt normal. His working theory is that the biopsy frightened my poor little prostate (still little, thank goodness), causing it to give off abnormally high levels of frightened antigens. Having another biopsy might send the levels even higher, resulting in a dog-chases-tail scenario, and isn’t that an apt comparison? Best continue to keep an eye on things, figuratively speaking.
So there are two ways of looking at this. One is that it’s bad news: No real answer, just the world’s longest health scare. The other is good news: Indications are this is probably not cancer, and getting tapped for a vial of blood once every four months doesn’t do me any harm.
I choose the good.
Now to deal with the back injury, which, I assure you, did not happen while being examined at Doctor Plunger’s office.
Thank goodness my chiropractor never asks me to drop anything.