Archive for February, 2013

Is it prostate or prostrate?

It’s the simple things that count.

Our day started with a trip to Dr. Ericson’s office for Sweetie’s every three weeks’ allergy shots. A ritual that has gone on since well before the foundering of the Titanic, the serum allows us to luxuriate in the Upper Ojai where, other than during a nuclear holocaust, something is always discharging its microscopic sexual reproductive organs into the air. Pleasantries exchanged, Nurse Ratched smilingly deposited the magical serum into both of Sweetie’s arms. Better two than one, I always say.

Following the insinuation of the sinus clearing, sneeze modifying and itch suppression miracle drugs, we proceeded across the road to the ever friendly confines of Ojai Community Hospital. Other than the classy emergency room which is usually entertaining a near-relative of Evel Knievel who misguidedly believed he could defy the laws of gravity, the hospital normally seems quite peaceful and generally deserted. As though it were really a front for something else, like a pot farm, it graciously absorbs our periodic donations, generated to some degree by our fear of the hospital’s potential demise. Thereby condemning us to the big city where we will be absorbed in the less homey environs of the ever-expanding Community Memorial Hospital.

It was my turn in the barrel. My last physical revealed the continued, fear inducing, and generally misunderstood elevation of my prostate specific antigen. Better known as PSA, I have been following my own numbers with mild interest for several years and have, with an occasional slip, finally learned the difference between prostate and prostrate.

My two-year ago physical, ably performed by Dr. Ericson, prompted my first visit to the friendly Dr. Goldberg, a jovial, middle-aged urologist, conveniently located near Trader Joes. Dr. Goldberg’s probing and diagnosis resulted in his sage country doctor advice to “go home and let me know if anything happens”…whatever that meant.

Nothing happened…until two months ago when my PSA crossed a new, exciting threshold prompting Dr. Ericson to say, “let’s try that test again in February, maybe this one was a fluke…oh, and avoid sex within five minutes of the test as it has been known to raise PSA levels.” Although mildly constraining, I accepted his reassuring technical advice. Hence, my return to the hospital lab department where, after a search for a suitable vein, I proceeded to donate several liters of PSA laden blood.

Unfortunately, the results of the make-up PSA test mirrored the previous one. I had again flunked the test with a D-. Time for me to listen up and pay attention. Especially since Dr. Ericson had previously regaled me with a plethora of mind-numbing tales about the misguided folks who had, in the words of that ancient grail knight in one of the Indiana Jones movies, chosen poorly. Not me. I’m going to spend another glorious afternoon with Dr. Goldberg.

The debate over the need for and value of the PSA test continues to rage. Googling will provide you with a boxcar of information that is both informative and argumentative, not to speak of the impact it has on your systolics and diastolics. Friends are likely (other than women friends) to either have personally been confronted by rising PSAs or will have a relatively uninformed, but kindly opinion of what one should do about it. Ranging from nothing, to better make sure your will is up to date. Easy for them to say.

Cousin Ronnie was particularly helpful by sharing his own story, that of our three prostate challenged uncles and, finally, the alternate universes experienced by a gaggle of his business colleagues, some of whom had, as we say, chosen poorly. Bless his heart. He means well.

So, it turns out that March will be my “let’s explore new vistas” month. In addition to the probing sure to be employed by the jovial Dr. Goldberg, it’s also the ten-year anniversary of my last colonoscopy. It’s an event scheduled to nearly coincide with Dr. Goldberg’s hide and seek party. Alas, it’s too bad the plumber and the gas man can’t buddy up and lead but one expedition into the dark recesses of my anatomy.

And keep things simple.

Too little, too late

I love the smell of urine in the morning.

OK, so I’ve mangled Robert Duvall’s famous line in Apocalypse Now. It seemed appropriate given the recent, but thankfully abating, attention focused by CNN, MSNBC, ABC, CBS and the Jewish Daily Forward on that smelly Carnival Cruise Line floating toilet called the Triumph.

You’d have thought that the disabled ship was overrun by zombies devouring guests one by one as they emerged unfulfilled from their attempt to gorge themselves at the midnight buffet. But let’s look at the bright side…at least they were saved from those repetitive, overpriced, dockside shopping sprees in any number of overrated ports of call.

And if your week wasn’t satisfying enough, you were treated to a soliloquy of brain farts emanating from the newest stand-in for our sorely missed Majesty of the Ludicrous, Sarah Palin. Yes, Texas junior Senator Ted Cruz, darling of the musket wielding Tea Party, has cleverly gained the frontrunner position for the Republican 2016 presidential nomination by accusing that poor shlep, Chuck Hagel, of consorting with any number of America’s enemies including the North Koreans, Iranians and others who broadly support Sponge Bob and the Kardashian sisters. For those who yearn for the glory days of Joe McCarthy, your wish has been granted.

But things are now back to normal…nine days before Sequester. The Sequester, another manufactured opportunity for our elected representatives to once more save us from the Fiscal Cliff. An opportunity for them to recklessly do what they’ve had over a year to address in a less maniacal way. Another potential feather in their caps as they save us from a cataclysm manufactured by them and abetted by those of us who elected Ted Cruz, Rand Paul and any number of self-appointed patriots who choose to wave the flag while the rest of us go down with the ship.

I have no idea where the term Sequester came from to describe the ham-handed approach embodied in the legislation that Congress and the President so gleefully adopted more than a year ago. So I looked it up in my now defunct Funk and Wagnalls…to put somebody in an isolated or lonely place away from other people, the pressures of everyday life, or possible disturbances.

Perfect. An apt description of the legislation and of those entrusted with mismanaging our affairs of state. Whodathunk it? When they conjured up the Sequester they laughed all the way to the Capitol cafeteria and said “No one in their right mind would let this go on to its ultimate conclusion. No one could be so crass to think we won’t do our public duty. No one would think we’d risk igniting a new recession. No one would think we’d…or would they?”

Maybe it’s all for the best. Maybe Rand Paul and his look-alikes are right when they say damn the torpedoes. Full speed ahead. Slash and burn. Lookee here, they say…”Why it’s what every American family has to do when their income doesn’t meet their outgo. They cut back, don’t they?” Well, Mr. Paul, you’re right. They do cut back. But they sit down around the kitchen table, look at their alternatives and make decisions based on what’s important. They look at the consequences. Then they do what’s in the best interests of their family.

But this time things have reached a zenith of contempt for the public. At least for the 47% despised by Mr. Romney and his cohorts. Republicans will have taken the next big step in dismantling government. They will be praised for the continuing demise of public education. They will be showered with plaudits for their mantra that insists that poor people have no one to blame but themselves. They will be congratulated for protecting the rich at the expense of those whose jobs will be eliminated. They will be praised for their refusal to compromise, for their insistence that even more needs to be done, for their proclamation that sacrificing the parents now saves the children later.

I’m no big fan of Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal who will go down in history for his recent plea to his fellow Republicans “let’s stop being the stupid party.” Alas, Bobby. Too little, too late, too many fanatics who thrive on defeat.

To Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, Bobby Jindal…it’s too late to wake up and smell the roses. If the electorate has half a brain, you’d better get used to urine in the morning.




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