Posts Tagged 'prostate'

The results are in…

Where were we?  Oh yes, we had just completed my prostate biopsy.

Now it was time to await the results.  Dr. Greenberg had said “Should take about a week to get it back from the lab.  I don’t like to phone results to my patients.  So make an appointment and you can come in to see how things turned out.  Good or bad.”  Fair enough.  After all, how long could a week of waiting be?

I strolled confidently to the cute young lady at the front desk.  The one who makes calls to patients’ answering machines and rattles off information faster than any human can write it down.  “Hi” I said confidently.  “How about an appointment next Tuesday?  The Doctor says my results should be here by then.”  Silence.  Followed by her nimble fingers doing speed of light calisthenics on the computer keyboard.  Followed by more silence.  “Hmmmm.  Looks like we’re booked.  The earliest I can get you in is next Friday morning.  How’s 8:40?”  Restraining myself from leaping over the counter, strangling the young lady with her telephone cord, and making my own appointment, I sheepishly said “OK.”

Ten days to wait for results.  Ten days to try not thinking about it.  Ten days to imagine the worst.  Anything from “Hey, no problem, you’re OK.  Go home.”  To “It’s stage four.  Get into Hospice and put your affairs in order…today.”

The days passed and I was, at first, only mildly irritated.  Young children I encountered on the street sensed that I should be avoided.  My feeling of foreboding grew to tsunami proportions and it took all of Sweetie’s cooing and cajoling to keep me from self-immolation.  I pasted a perpetual smile on my face and studiously maintained my public persona so as to avoid losing all of my friends.

Sleeping was fraught with adventure.  Getting to sleep was no problem.  Staying asleep was.  I tried various mind tricks.  First I imagined lush green fields with bubbling brooks.  No good.  So I enhanced my vision of lush green fields by adding romping, nubile maidens.  Not good enough.  So I simply deleted the green fields and focused completely on the nubile maidens.  Nothing was a panacea.

Instead of sticking with the Marx Brothers, Woody Allen and the U.S. Congress for laughs, I made the mistake of reading The Worst Hard Time by Timothy Egan.  A long repetitive dissertation on the Dust Bowl of the 1930’s, it reveled in a glorious depiction of the misery of those poor farmers who lost their land to the wind, and were forced to rely on clubbing rabbits to death and boiling tumbleweed for sustenance.  As an added bonus, the book described the concurrent, abject misery of the Great Depression and the twenty-five percent of out-of-work, apple selling Americans.  On the other hand, maybe reading about their misery deflected a bit from my own self-imposed malaise.

Thursday night was mostly sleepless as the nubile maidens all sought refuge from me.  Arising well before we needed to, we leapt from bed, did our best to greet the rather dark morning, and got in the car for the forty minute trip to Ventura.  Needless to say, we arrived at the place of execution a full thirty minutes early.

The waiting room was empty except for the young lady with the flying fingers.  She was removing the last vestiges of Halloween decorations including the monstrous hanging ghost that happily greeted us on our arrival.  I decided to read Wine Spectator in the foolish hope that I might get seriously drunk.

A rather large man and his rather large wife entered the waiting room.  He held a large manila envelope that obviously contained a very large x-ray.  The Rather Larges sat across from us.  Mr. Rather Large stared straight ahead for a full twenty minutes and held onto the envelope in the same way that Charlton Heston  famously rabble-roused the NRA with his cold, dead hands speech.  I realized that I was not alone in my misery.

“Mr. Rothenberg, you can come in now.” Nurse Ratched said as she opened the door to the business end of Doctor Goldberg’s shop of horrors.

We sat in the exam room.  My blood pressure reading taken by Nurse Ratched was at the high-end of abnormal and my throbbing pulse could be felt without the need of placing her fingers on my wrist.  “How have you been feeling since the biopsy?” she said.  “Fine” I lied.

Waiting for the Doctor to make an entry, Sweetie and I talked about things of which I have no recollection.  For some strange reason, my mind wandered back to 1960.  I remembered anxiously awaiting the results of my CPA exam, results that would appear in my mailbox.  I remembered what my fellow exam takers had said.  “If your results come in a big fat envelope, you failed the exam.  The fat envelope has all kinds of stuff including how to reapply and retake that awful test.  If you get a nice thin letter, it will simply have your passing grades.”  I thought, “I hope Dr. Greenberg has a nice thin piece of paper.”

He did.  And we went home.

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.


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