No Spring Chicken #2
The Aliens can take me now. I no longer fear their probes.

As you may recall, from my last missive about aging ("No Spring Chicken"), I was left with a number of choices on dealing with the enlarged prostate. I selected the "Cool Wave" treatment, wherein the prostate is microwaved for 40 minutes to reduce its size. Well, this led to a number of events.

First, they have to map the prostate via MRI to insure the wave they generate matches only the prostate, not other organs you don't want reduced. Now, with the placement of the prostate there are several key items to avoid. So as I am going in for that mapping I was wondering how that MRI would be done. From the front? The side? Wouldn't the hip bones be in the way? The back? Wouldn't the spine be in the way? Surprise! They insert the MRI scanner. Into the larger of the available orifices, fortunately. I knew I had figured wrong when he got out the KY Jelly. Sigh. A modicum more dignity goes down the drain.

So, the day comes for the actual procedure and it isn't the trifecta, but it is the daily double. They put a sensor up the lower GI to make sure they get the actual microwave generator in the correct location, then they put the wave generator up the urethra. An old gum commercial song is playing in my head. Admittedly I was on valium, so not really paying the closest of attention, but it seems to me that the sensor was a rather large device (I'm thinking ~3/4" diameter and 2 feet long, but not all of it was inserted). Then they cook you for 40 minutes. Oh, and the only thing you should feel is that the end of your penis may get warm, so they offer you an ice pack if it does. Yes, I took it part way through. Melted the ice completely before they were done, too. In for a penny, in for a pound, so I was pretty stoical about this and was reading my book (what else are you going to do?) and the doctor and the technician running the machinery decided I was the calmest patient they had ever had while performing this particular procedure. Well, the timer goes off and they shut things down, then remove the probes and insert the catheter (supposed to stay for 5 days). Oh, joy. There are five specific medications for this operation. One for the pain (Oxycodone), one for the burning sensation (there was quite a bit of that), one for the muscle spasms (quite painful with a catheter in), one for possible infections (antibiotic started the previous day) and valium to relax me for the procedure itself. The medicine for the burning also discolors the urine - bright orange, real orange, makes life-jackets look pale orange. Two flushes later the toilet water is still yellow like you hadn't flushed at all orange. Oh, and that orange stains. Won't come out. No matter what. Well, guess what happens when you have a muscle spasm with a catheter in? It over pressurizes and squeezes some around the catheter so you have some leaky drips (bright orange). Ah, the joys...

Now, just to make sure this experience was no easier than need be, another problem is being handled in parallel. I had a lump in my throat. A swollen lymph node. We couldn't find a reason, since I had had it for 5 weeks by the time the doctor saw it, and no cold in sight. So we did a cat scan and found many of them, but only the one where I could see it. So she sent me in for a biopsy, which was scheduled for the Friday before the Tuesday wave therapy. After a long drive to Federal Way that morning for an 8:20 appointment the ENT doctor looks at it and explains that in a lymph node there is always tissue that looks a bit like cancer, so sticking a needle in and taking a sample won't answer any questions and the only way to tell is to remove the entire mass and study it for composition. Sigh. So we schedule an operation to remove it for next Thursday (two days after the microwave). But while your here, he says, why don't I take a good look at it. So he pokes around outside, looks and pokes around inside my mouth. Then (here it comes again) puts a probe up my nose and runs the little camera down my throat to look at the lump from the inside. Whee!

Now, after the microwave cooks my prostate and I'm wearing a catheter and bag I go in two days later for an operation to remove the lump and guess what? They put something down my throat to keep the airway open because now I *do* have a cold and they don't want me coughing while they are working on me. I don't want it either. Another probe, albeit not so deep, but a lot wider. Sigh. I got even, though. As soon as I woke up in the recovery room I started singing to make sure my vocal cords were undamaged. The nurses were quick to tell Janet when they brought her in to see me in recovery.

Needless to say, I'm a bit wrung out now, which is why I didn't go to the Bainbridge Island Rowing banquet last night and slept most of Friday. I've got an appointment next Thursday with my regular doctor to discuss the results of the biopsy of the lump. I'm really looking forward to that. [I really need that t-shirt that says, "Sarcasm. Just another service I offer!"]

But I must say, it has been a learning experience. Somewhere around here I have photos of the prostate MRI. Swept up and down and side-to-side. I found out just how many things modern medicine can find to put in just how many peculiar places. But it could be worse - they could still be using rectal thermometers, I suppose. I've discovered just how phlegmatic I can be with multiple insertions removing any shred of dignity I might have had or even aspired to. I found the joy of removing my own catheter, and just how much there was inside! Oh, and I discovered what hell on earth is: an erotic dream with a catheter in.

Now I've got to pull myself together today and go sing at the memorial for a dear old friend. That will be a labor of love, though, and more fun than any of the rest of this.

Tom (the aging)