My lifestyle for the past 5 years has been itinerant by choice, wintering over and doing holiday/family stuff in Oklahoma, then traveling full-time across the USA the rest of the year. We have been to a lot of interesting places and met some fascinating people during that time. And this year was to be no different. Our plans were to start off in central Minnesota to handle routine doctor appointments, then off to Calgary, Alberta for a motorcycle rally. Then plans to swing West to Seattle and Yakima to visit friends and drink wine, then south to Oregon for the annual cystoscopy, then on to northern Nevada and Salt Lake and then Colorado, spending a week or more at each place visiting old friends and making new ones. But while in Minnesota the economic realities of such a trip sunk in, and we elected to eliminate the western loop. We did the bike rally in Calgary, then headed directly to Colorado for the month of July. I opted to fly solo to Medford on Sunday, July 7 for my appointment the morning of July 8th, returning to Colorado that afternoon.
And so it went. 90 minute drive down the mountain from Glen Haven to the Denver airport, uneventful flight to Medford, and a late night dinner at In-N-Out Burger in Medford. I got my usual Double-Double with grilled onions along with Animal Fries (from the secret menu) and iced tea. After spending so much time in the west, that meal felt like a homecoming for me. Hotel was pleasant and staff were awesome. I slept really well, not having time or inclination to dwell on the upcoming procedure. I note this is a big change from the early years, where sleep patterns would be disrupted for about a week in advance, and regular deep breathing exercises and relaxation techniques were mandatory. But not this year.
Instead I awoke to a stunningly beautiful Oregon day. Thankfully no forest fires were nearby to disturb the air quality, and the views in every direction were spectacular. I keyed the doctor's office address into my phone's Google maps and set off. While the office was not far, Medford is a bedroom community with few 4 lane roads, so the 5 mile journey took about 15-20 minutes. With the weather so nice I drove the entire way with the windows down and the tunes cranked up loud (by my standards, anyway)!
Got to the office to find construction on the street and a flagger directing folks both in and out of the exit to the parking area. Nabbed a good parking place, grabbed my records and stress ball. and headed into the office. Having been there once before, processing-in took 10 seconds or less. I was a bit surprised, having been forced to fill out the exact same forms every year in Oklahoma and Minnesota, and I appreciated the efficiency of the Oregonians. So I sat and observed the situation. Unlike the Salt Lake office which was always full to capacity, and where most of the other patients hobbled around slowly like the walking dead, the new office was only half full, and most patients and all staff were in pretty good spirits, despite some of patients being obviously unwell. I mentioned this to Dr. Hopkins after my exam and he scratched his head. "Most people we see here are in much worse shape, medically, than the folks in Utah. The Oregonians seem to be cut from a hardier stock, and they delay seeking treatment longer, and tolerate the disabilities better than the city folk in Utah."
I also asked about his practice, as he looked busy but less stressed, and had gained a bit of weight. He is the chief urologist, and they now had a second young doctor on staff, plus a 3rd coming later that week. His PA told me he was still doing a double patient load, but that would drop quickly in a month when the new doc was fully onboard. The PA, nurses, and assistants were all pleasant, proactive, efficient and helpful. This also in contrast to the Salt Lake practice. Dr. Hopkins can attribute it all to the Oregon lifestyle, but I have to think his leadership has contributed more than a little bit!
I was shown to the room by the PA right on time at 9:30, and she took my weight and BP and recorded it into the system. Then she told me to drop pants and underwear to my ankles and cover myself with the clean drape sitting on the exam table, as I would be next in line. I asked about a urine sample and she said it was not necessary, unless I wanted the test done, which I did not. This differed markedly from the Utah practice where I was required ALWAYS to give a urine sample, and then to completely remove all clothing except shirt and socks, and then expected to wait for 30-60 minutes lying prone on the table. The Oregon table instead was set up in a reclining position, much like being reclined in a La-Z-Boy chair. I assumed the position and she was back a minute later to do the Xylocaine prep, raise the table behind my back and extend the leg rest for my comfort, and raise me into position for the doc's convenience. And the doc himself was in within 5 minutes after that.
We shook hands and exchanged greetings, then he got right down to it, pointing out that he was still using the "splash guard" smock he had in Utah. He got to business quickly, and I felt nothing much at all, thanks to the Xylocaine. We both focused our attention to the hi-def screen. Since I had not drained my urine as anticipated, there was a yellow tinge and the presence of several white pellet-like things floating around. The doc dismissed those as "sediment" and told me it was perfectly normal and nothing of concern. The exam was thorough and we both saw only normal, healthy tissue, as if nothing had ever happened. This was followed by the always unpleasant DRE, after which the doc said my prostate was slightly enlarged. "For a sixty year old?" I asked, and he shook his head NO. And that was it. Cysto scheduled for a year later, all handled while I cleaned up and got ready to leave. Easy-peasy and incredibly efficient.
I phoned my wife with the good news, and set about celebrating with a large lunch of sushi with a large Japanese beer, then moved on to another restaurant's bar for an enormous piece of home-made carrot cake and a couple of glasses of excellent Oregon pinot noir wine. Return flight and drive back into the mountains were routine, and all is right with the world. The carrot cake was so enormous that I bought over half of it back to my wife, which she promptly gobbled up.