Judgment Day #2 - All Clear - January 22, 2009

What does one do on Judgment Day? Today I woke up at 5AM and lay in bed a while. I prayed long and hard - being scared helps one do that better. As it used to be said, there are no atheists in the battle trenches, and I would add there are precious few (if any) in the cancer trenches. I got out of bed early and busied myself with routine things. Did a short devotional for the day from Morning Exercises (book details in the recommended reading section in the column at your left). Answered a couple of work emails, forwarding on actions, and wondering how they would get done if I disappeared for several months - as might be the outcome. Strangely enough the musings were not morbid, but more practical. The fact that I still really care about even silly things getting done is a sign of a good attitude, I think. I'm slightly ashamed to admit that having a good attitude is still a pretty new experience for me. I balanced the checkbook and paid a couple of bills. I normally drink quite a bit of tea in the mornings, but I held off because of the impending procedure. It's not required, but doctors tend to do better if you don't pee all over them while they are working. They are kind of funny that way. Go figure. Managed to stay nominally busy until time to shower and leave. I didn't feel certain about the outcome or even confident at all. But it seemed far less stressful in anticipation this time. Don't get me wrong, I was stressed out and biting people's heads off at work all week (some with reason), but the tension built up much later and was not as intense as three months ago.

Since then I've had a month of BCG treatments/recovery and two months of work and quiet relaxation since the last time. And the stress buildup last time was so great that after I got the good news, I crashed and burned with a cold for 3 days. The first one is the biggest hurdle, but the odds don't really improve for the second. My attitude and commitment to good diet and lifestyle (including the hated exercise) have been steady, if not improving. I do feel better, and shedding pounds and inches has been a pleasant side effect. A lot of cancer patients lose weight and waste away to nothing as the disease (and even more often the treatments) rob them of appetite and energy. I am quite pleased to be losing weight for entirely healthy reasons, albeit driven by the threat of the cancer. As I said to a co-worker some months ago, getting cancer may be the best thing that's ever happened to me for health and attitude. I still think it must be true.

It's about a 50 minute drive from our place in the mountains to the Urology Clinic in Salt Lake City. We left at 10AM for our 11AM appointment. It was about freezing and the weather was a light drizzle. Less than two miles from the house we take a freeway through a canyon. The freeway was closed due to an accident. All detours would take an extra half hour or more. We waited a few minutes, and the police opened the on-ramp. We proceeded for about 100 yards, then came to a dead stop for 30 minutes. When they finally let us through, we saw they had moved over a dozen vehicles to the side of the road, all of which had clearly spun out. Clearly this was the result of wet, icy, slick roads and Utah drivers' chronic inability to merge. In Utah the word "Yield" means to proceed at will and everyone (who has the right of way) will have to get the hell out of your way. I'm surprised I don't see more accidents. But after a few years you get proficient at dodging clueless drivers. We proceeded slowly through the canyon to the lowlands, which were encompassed in nasty smog. The Salt Lake valley gets awful winter inversions, and instead of cleaning the air, this drizzle storm had caused it to get worse. We made our way gingerly south and I called the Urology Clinic at 10:50, begging permission to be 20 minutes late. Thankfully it was no problem. Delaying the inspection would definitely have mounted the tensions!

At the clinic we were shown into the exam room quickly, but there was still over half an hour wait for the doctor. Either they were running late, or they had put another patient or two in front of me. I focused on relaxing and breathing for a bit, and my wife helped out with a very nice scalp massage. Dr. Hopkins appeared abruptly with his assistant, after greeting and handshake and some small talk (he's a big University of Utah football fan and had witnessed the recent bowl game where the undefeated Utes handily spanked the overrated Alabama Crimson Tide), we got to business.
After the initial shock I was able to relax and breathe deeply whilst murdering my two stress balls. "I've looked at three quarters of your bladder and it's all clear," the doctor announced. "Keep up the good work!" I replied gamely. "All clear!" was his immediate response. The unpleasant bit was over in less than sixty seconds. Everyone was happy with the results, and my wife seemed especially so. Perhaps she was more keyed up this time than I was! I gave Dr. Hopkins the results of my third BCG treatment in the last series, while telling him that the side effects were greatly reduced with the 1/3 dose. I suggested we could start with a half and drop it, but he said the evidence of equal efficacy was good and we would do all three at the lower strength - even more good news!

So now all is well. We shall celebrate this evening with some fresh fish - Bluenose Sea Bass, cooked in our Big Green Egg on a plank of Pacific Northwest Alder wood Add to that some organic greens and fruit, and an outstanding bottle of Pinot Noir from EIEIO winery, made by my friend and wine genius Jay (I discount for no-one) McDonald. It should be an excellent time. I'm pleased that we are able to tell the surgery-monster, "Not today, sucker!" And even though the trauma of the scoping is present, it will be mostly gone by morning. The photo at left captures the essence of the after-effects, though!


A Dived Ref said...

I am so pleased for you Steve - that is brilliant news - celebrate and rejoice and then get down to the next three BCGs and more clears.

I am absolutely delighted for you and Mrs. Biohazard too, it is such a relief and I know just how good it feels. I'd raise a glass myself but on antibiotics for a few more days will hold on until next week when some "warm" UK beer will be drunk to your health and continued well being.

andyp said...

Great news Steve, made my day, been thinking about you and David a lot last few days,,,,,if im ever over your way, would love to try that bass, on pacific alderwood, mmmmmmmmm.I will have a drink for you tonight Steve(and an extra 1 for David, as he cant drink at the moment, there i go again being nice),CHEERS STEVE.

Steve Kelley said...

Many thanks, mates! May your treatments also progress nicely into states of remission for us all. And of course if anyone is in the neigborhood, pints will be filled and raised together, for certain! (Fish too, Andy!)

Patricia said...

Keep Strong, that god news, as answer God for your pray