Showing posts from June, 2009


So I'm on the phone to my step-mother yesterday morning when I feel something wet on my left side. I do a quick mental inventory of bodily orifices that might cause this to happen. Am I drooling? No, shirt's dry. Sweating alot in one place? Nope, I'm sitting at my desk not working up much of a sweat at all. Have I just wet myself (again)? A quick check of the plumbing indicated all was sound. OK, I'm going to have to concentrate on this. I said good-bye to Joan, hung up the phone and took my shirt off. The moisture had thoroughly soaked my left side and it appeared to be coming from under the 2"x2" gauze covering the incision that used to hold the drain. It looked like around a cup of tea colored liquid had escaped my abdomen and poured down my leg. All I could muster was "Ew, Gross!" but coming from a guy with a bag of urine taped to his leg, that's really saying something. This wasn't on any of my lists of things to look forward to after p

Say Hello to my Little Friend!

I'm home now and I have a bag of urine strapped to my leg. For the definitive description of what it feels like to have a bag of urine attached to your leg, Listen to David Sedaris' wonderful description of the "Stadium Pal" . But bear in mind, David wore his under slacks. I'm sure many of you are thinking "Dude! put some long pants on! Nobody wants to see that!" I can see your point. You probably didn't want to start your day looking at this. It's not really something one would strap to the outside of ones slacks (Say, wait a minute...). No, credit for rockin' the catheter with shorts goes entirely to my father-in-law. His last experience with one began with it leaking on the way home, soaking his pants leg, and his announcing to his wife, and probably everyone else in earshot that he was wearing shorts until the damn thing came off. My experience with a catheter began in the hospital where trained professionals drained mine regularly

Morning in the cancer wing of Good Samaritan

Where to begin? The pathology report came back and the cancer was confined to the prostate. It was also more aggressive than they originally thought making the early detection and treatment even more fortunate. What I write now is from the perspective of needing no further treatment. Walking back from the sky bridge at the end of the hall, I passed a guy who had clearly been through the same procedure I had. Slow shuffles, battery powerred IV units in tow, as we passed each other he asked "Wanna race?" I don't pray very often but I'm praying right now, and with the same conviction I usually reserve for praying that state trooper didn't clock me at 75, that his report was as good as mine. I'm crying alot. Not great heaving sobs of gratitude though those might be appropriate. I'm tearing up quite a bit. Could be the morphine. I like morphine. It's the bacon of pain killers. Everything is better with it. I had two really great nights of sleep thanks to


...To everyone for their prayers, best wishes, toasts and one chant over a crystal skull and candle. More anon...

Here We Go!

Time to shower, scrub up and try to sleep a bit. I check in around 5:30 tomorrow morning. They start the operation around 7:30. It's supposed to take two hours or so. I wish I could think of something profound to say about how I feel. Mostly I feel hungry. And I'm tired of running to the bathroom every 15 minutes. I miss food and my digestive tract. I'll let you all know when I'm back around.


So I popped the laxatives around 2pm and they seemed to work their magic by around 4. Then they worked some more magic around 4:30. More Magic at 5 at which point I figured "There can't be anything left! Let's go for a walk." I really didn't understand that I was only one hour into a 6 hour continual bowel movement. REI has very clean restrooms. That was our first stop. Why I didn't pack it in and head back to the loft is anyone's guess. "Oh no, it has to be over now. Let's head up to city market and get some fancy cheese to celebrate my recovery". City market's restroom was not quite as sparkly as REI's, but at least it was private and it was there . By now we're a mile from home and just a few blocks from Trader Joe's. We needed to buy a bar of antibacterial soap as part of our hospital imposed nightly hygene. Off we went. Trader Joe's had an ok restroom but no soap. By now I had figured out that this walk was a reall

In Portland

We're loaded into Anne's loft. I've checked in to Good Sam and had my blood taken. I have to scrub myself with some antibiotic towel this evening. I'm going to be shiny tomorrow! Seem to be holding down the laxatives. Can't tell if... Oh. Gotta run.

24 Hours and Counting...

It's 7 am and I'm starting my clear liquid diet for the day. I'm most of the way packed and things are pretty much ready to go. I need to report to the hospital around noon for blood typing and cross matching in case they need to do a transfusion. At around 1 or 2 this afternoon I start my laxative routine with a nice chilled bottle of magnesium citrate and four bisacodyl tablets. At 7 pm I take the first six antibiotic pills (neomycin and metronidazole) to kill everything in my digestive tract. I repeat the routine at 11 pm to kill off whatever survived the first round and then I wait for 6 am to roll around. By the time I get to the hospital, my intestines should be so clean, you could see your reflection in them! My main concerns are: I don't space out and pound a bacon double cheeseburger for lunch. Carolyn's already tried to feed me molassas bread. The magnesium citrate doesn't taste as bad as it sounds. The instructions say to drink it as fast as I can &


My friend Matt Elerding sent me this video yesterday. It's a joyous celebration of human potential. I will never ride like this but I love that someone can. I also love that the video ends with the word "Hope", which is actually the name of a company that makes disc brakes but I'm inclined to take it my own way.

I didn't Photoshop this...

If I see a copy laying around the operating room, should I be worried? I'll be honest; I've always hated these books. It's not that the content is bad. It isn't. They can be quite useful. And if you're starting from zero trying to research prostate cancer, I would be doing you a disservice discouraging you from buying this. It's the packaging. "Prostate Cancer for Retards" wouldn't be any more insulting. The base assumption that we're all stupid really gets on my nerves. People with prostate cancer aren't dumb any more than people who can't figure out pivot tables in Excel are inherently dumb. These books came into being as a sort of wink and a nod resource for people not baptized in the fire of technology to help them get by in a world that they find foreign. I get that. The chapters led with a funny comic that touched on the topic at hand. I can't imagine what the comics would look like in this book. Have you been to the Dummi

The Ashland Watershed

The Friday before the wedding I took a ride around the Ashland watershed. It's around a 25 mile loop that follows the Spring Thaw race long course. It runs roughly the opposite direction of the Cat III course looping up forest road 2060, the Horn Gap trail and around the watershed, intersecting with the Catwalk trail that meets up with Caterpillar and then the BTI. I used to ride these roads and trails years ago. I think the last time I was on them was maybe 1996 when I was working at the Shakespeare Festival. Unlike most wilderness dirt roads around Oregon, these aren't used primarily for logging. They've been thining the forests here and doing controlled burns for decades so the land has a more diverse ecosystem and is much more interesting to ride through. The long ride up 2060 was humbling. I could ride it easily enough but I used to interval train on this road and could crest the first summit in 25 minutes from the gate at the bottom. Now it's more like 40 minute


After 18 years together, my sister and Joe decided to get married. It's been a subject of some discussion why two people, with a 14 year old daughter and a comfortable life that suits them, would embrace the crusty old social convention of marriage. It's a fair question. I haven't asked them directly and I don't plan to. There may be some practical reasons involving inheritance or medical visitation. Carolyn and I married after 15 years together. The impetus was her COBRA running out but that was probably more of an excuse than a reason. The thing is: we were married. In some way, after a decade or two, living together becomes the crusty old social convention and marriage starts to look like the new frontier. What does it mean to marry after so many years together? Weddings traditionally are the send-off to a life together. A collective well wishing for a future of happiness. Everyone holds their breath and hopes it all works out. About half the time it seems to. A

Pickett's Charge

Last weekend we grabbed the big book of cancer, loaded the Golf and headed off to Bend for the Pickett's Charge bike race. It may be the last race I can do before surgery and we needed to go find some sun in the Oregon high desert. I shouldn't feel as good as I do about beating a 12 year old kid in a bike race but when you're 49 with prostate cancer, you take your glory where you can. I think he beat me at Spring Thaw too so it's high time he learned that payback's a bitch. Get started on that lifetime of disappointment early! I did feel a little bad. He was working hard and reeled me in fair and square on the twisting single track. He did have an annoying trick of yelling "On your left!" as if he was going to pass and I'd look back and he was like 50 feet behind me. I did finally let him by when he actually was on my wheel but he just didn't have the body mass to brute force his way up some of the tricky rock gardens so I ended up hanging on to

The Book of Cancer

I pulled up to the gate on our driveway Friday night and found this huge yellow envelope dropped in the driveway. Upon opening it, I found a three ring binder that said "Legacy Cancer Services" in huge letters on the front and spine. Apparently, when you get cancer, you also get one of these binders, sort of like the "Book of the Dead" in Beetlejuice. It takes a kind of big brush approach to cancer lumping prostate, breast, lung, brain and skin cancer together to provide an overview of resources for dealing with your disease. There were some informative pamphlets on prostate cancer stuck in the outer sleeves. It's a disturbing book. I'm sure there's good intention behind sending it but that intention is buried in the overall weirdness of finding this, unanounced and unexpected, laying in my driveway. Who sent this? It's like being in the book of the month club from Hell. Can't wait for next month's selection.

Meet the Surgeon

The Monday we returned from Spring Thaw I called my doctor's office and let him know I'd made a decision on treatment. He said he'd speak with him the next day to see if he could fit me into his schedule. Within a few days, Dr. Lowe's assistant called me to schedule a meeting on June 1st. That Monday we headed up to Portland for our meeting. Dr. Lowe seemed a very nice man. He went over the procedure in some detail. We'd be doing "robotic laproscopic surgery". The robot, called a DaVinci is operated by the surgeon at a remote console. They would make 5 small incisions into my abdomen that would allow for the insertion of a drain, camera and the robotic arms. According to the Johns Hopkins website, the procedure would take 3 to 5 hours. The prostate and lymph nodes nearby would be removed, the catheter inserted and, I gather a few things rearranged to make up for the lack of prostate. Most of this was familiar to me. I think Carolyn appreciated the diagram

Final Results

The race couldn't have gone better. I beat my sister by 7 minutes, finishing 18th out of 61 riders and 7th in my age bracket. I came in 58:21 so I broke an hour, my personal goal. Mallory beat my time last year by 5 minutes so she beat her personal goal and Joe finished 5th in his category which made him grumpy but there was free beer after the race so he couldn't be unhappy for long. We spent a lazy afternoon in the park soaking up the sun and catching the odd piece of swag thrown our way. Didn't win anything big in the raffle. Maddie got a huge bucket of Heed energy drink and a Jones Bicycles t-shirt. The evening was spent gathering morels and barbecuing steaks for dinner. It ended with Mallory and Joe asleep and Carolyn, Maddie and I sprawled on the sofa watching "Hot Fuzz". The perfect family vacation. Before heading north, we spent some time sitting on the porch talking about my treatment. After some discussion to check my logic, I was ready to make the cal