I always do my blood workup before going to the doctor so I don’t have to wait for results. I can get the results and bring them with me to my appointment.
Dr P. is my pal. He boxes for exercise and perhaps to be able to defend himself from his patients if they become overly aggressive after hearing whatever he has to say. After having taken my temp and blood pressure, he looked at my report and I felt my anxiety going up. Why is he studying it for so long a time?
Then in his usual gentle manner he said, “your PSA is elevated from last year.”
I thought so it’s up, so what? I can’t have prostate cancer, can I? My sweat began to drip down my neck. Not an unusual occurrence.
“Did you see the urologist I suggested you see last year?” He asked.
“No.” I answered sheepishly. Not a usual way for me to answer anyone. Dr P. shook his head and said he would set an appointment up for me. What was happening? Dr. P. sail he wasn’t a urologist and wouldn’t be helpful enough.
A week later, I was in Dr. Bs’ office. He looked like a nice guy. Not the white coat type who was curt and unapproachable, I thought. And he’s in NY Magazines Best Doctors list. I was then told that I had to have a biopsy. He told me what a biopsy would be like. The sweat flowed like a river soaking my arm pits.
A biopsy involves taking several samples from my prostate with a long needle and no anesthesia. Just a little stick he said as he put on his gloves and grabbed some instruments. He was right. It didn’t hurt that much. Still but I was very happy when it was over. I was already anxious and the thought that I might have cancer didn’t lessen the feeling.
Now I had to wait for the results which would take about a week. It was some week of anxiety waiting to see if I had cancer The call finally came inviting me to come to the office. I had what’s called a Gleason score of 5/6. I had prostate cancer. The sweat returned like a waterfall.
WHAT TO DO
Because I am, by training, a medical chemist, even in my dazed nervous and very confused state, I started asking questions of every guy I knew. I went to a support group where men in my situation heard the stories of other men’s experience with prostate cancer. Instead of initially clearing things up I was becoming so full of information that I was more confused that ever. I could choose surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, cryotherapy (freezing) and I could even do nothing which is called “watchful waiting”. I slowed down by going to the support meetings more often. By listening to my heart, I choose surgery.
Sloan Kettering is a cancer hospital. I felt daunted, seeing the patients in all stages of treatment. I felt scared and at the same time I knew I would be well taken care of . I felt the cancer would be removed from my body.
I was given general anesthesia as I had no desire to know what anyone was doing to me.
I was in the hospital for 4 days. I left with this rubber thing coming out of my penis, a catheter with a tube that went to a bag strapped to my leg. If you want to know more about this, call me. It’s not too uncomfortable and does have an amusing side. To pee, I place my foot on the toilet seat and opened a pinch valve to empty the bag.
In 10 days the catheter was removed. Then, I needed diapers for about 6 months. Nature’s healing and some special exercises and I regained control of my bladder. Then I got a little Viagra and life returned to normal.
Of course there is more — I just wanted to tell you my experience.
My advice. Take advantage of all that’s out there. Be sure to include your significant other. She or He is most often the best support you’ll have. The internet has a great deal of information which can be invaluable. I want to wish you all good luck and God bless.
By the way, this happened to me 10 years ago and I’m doing awesomely well.