Still Alive, And Blissfully Exhausted
Five years ago today I was flat on my back with my feet up in stirrups, doped to the gills and getting nuked like a pig on a spit. Now I just look like I’ve been nuked as the weekend sunburn turns into the periodic leprosy commonly know as ‘peeling.’
The reception on Saturday went great. There were a few panic attacks, and the last minute move of about 100 yards (just like at the wedding itself), but those aren’t what I want to remember. Sure, it wasn’t exactly what we planned, but there have been so many plans on the table the last few months I’m not sure what the final plan was anyways, and what we had was beautiful.
What I want to remember are one hundred family and friends gathered together to celebrate an event that would have been legally impossible just a few months ago. Kind, loving, accepting and caring people who traveled distances ranging from hundreds of yards to hundreds of miles to raise their glasses of carbonated fruit juice with us and celebrate our new life together.
I think the smash hit of the day (besides our matching hawaiian shirts) was the dessert, a cake by a brand new chocolatier(?) bakery(?) in San Diego named Millle Feuille (don’t ask me how to pronounce it – I simply can’t). Their Apricot Summer cake was exquisite. For the record, and because a lot of people asked but I didn’t have the answer Saturday, that is:
Coconut-pineapple and carrot sponge cake layered with orange-apricot cream cheese filling topped with a marbled glaze.
But even that doesn’t do it justice, because it neglects the fresh blueberry and gold glitter garnish.
The lunch from Pacific Island Catering also went over very, very well, and Ellis, the owner, went above and beyond in making everything right. Not just great food, but amazing presentation and the possibly the best service I’ve seen in my seven years in San Diego. All along he exuded the experience and confidence that helped us relax and go with the process, and our trust paid off big time when not only did the lunch go off without a hitch, but he was able to make the phone calls necessary to get extra chairs and tables on two hours notice on a Saturday morning when our original plan was overrun by kiddie volleyball players.
The official photos were posted Saturday evening at Island Pix. The recyclable cameras we put on each table for the guests’ later humiliation are still awaiting processing on our coffee table and will be posted eventually. My camera, despite a few fleeting moments of temptation, stayed safely at home.
On a final note, we came home with two carloads of bubble wrap, packing peanuts, wrapping paper and Crate & Barrel boxes (not to mention leftovers) that have made Diego the happiest puppy alive. While I’m sure he’s disappointed he missed the big day, he’s sure enjoying a living room full of consolation stuffing.
Meandering Sunday Swim
Got in a nice swim this morning. OK, it was short and mostly an excuse for me to find myself in front of my preferred garden supply store, but the laps were plural and it did feel good to stretch things out.
Two good swimming articles in print edition of this morning’s Times though:
- Grevers opting to fight be on the U.S. team rather than accept an invitation to swim for the Netherlands.
- Shanteau deciding to swim rather than seek immediate cancer treatment.
No breaking news, just good write-ups of interesting things. Good writing and good editorial choices just reinforce the decision that the only print newspaper we get here is the Sunday New York Times. OK, the crossword puzzle helps in that decision.
On a semi-related note, I crossed the statistical five-year line last Monday. I’m now a five-year survivor of prostate cancer. Going through treatment was probably when I really started to appreciate the meditative aspects of swimming. Sometimes tuning everything out except for the little black line you’re following works, and everything else just seems to go away. That can be a very good thing.
Close To Zero
BorgHealth might be stuck with that nom de blog here due to some unfortunate early impressions, but I’m liking my drones at the moment. Went in yesterday for routine follow-up bloodwork from the prostate cancer (five year survivor in July). As opposed to visits past, I didn’t have to unshovel the piles on my desk looking for a lab slip that my doctor gave me months ago. There were no embarrassing questions about the coffee cup stains or other marks on their precious little form. The lab request was in their computer and I walked in, showed my Drone ID, and was whisked back to a private cubicle to have some blood siphoned out.
Normally I would then stress for a week until I talked to my doctor and learned the new magic number. The amount of PSA in my blood that hopefuly indicates whether the cancer is still dead or is growing and trying to kill me. Now though, safely esconced in the 21st century, BorgHealth e-mailed that my lab results were ready and let me look at the raw number online. If I understand the system right, as this goes on for the next seventy years or so (f$%^ five- and ten-year survival odds) the system will even display a little graph of the magic number. Technically it graphed today’s number, but one point does not an interesting slope make.
And yes, I am very happy with today’s magic number (<.1).
‘It Doesn’t Get Much Better Than Zero’
Visited BorgHealth this afternoon for the periodic check on the nuclear power nodes. Gotta make certain the containment field keeping the mutating mutinous cells that tried to take over the world from their 70s-retro Headquarters in my prostate is still working. I was expecting the anti-drone, my really cool urologist, to break out the big probe. At least slap some lube and latex around and see what’s going on behind the radioactive seeds that keep humanity safe. Instead we talked about my bloodwork, talked about BorgHealth’s new computers, talked about holiday travel, talked about the choice back in 2003 of surgery versus radiation, talked about the impact of a dead prostate on my life, and called it a week. Labs in six months, lets chat next November. All because I passed a blood test I didn’t even study for.
I’ll never get over the sense of dread in anticipating these visits. No idea what the surviving cells within the radioactive containment might be mutating into. Someone will probably say gay transforming robots. In my nightmares I usually envision it as the thing battling the Atom in the opening pages of The Dark Knight Strikes Again. Regardless, what we can’t detect won’t kill me this year – here’s to four years of successful whatever it is that’s happening in there.
More Proof That Winter Sucks
Men diagnosed with prostate cancer in the summer and fall have a better chance of survival than those diagnosed in the spring and winter, a new study of Norwegian men suggests.
I wonder if they factored in the dispair and general suicidal feeling that winter’s mere existence tends to cause. Radiation was bad enough without having to dig the car out from under a snowdrift every morning. For the record, I was diagnosed in July.
Since the study was done with Norwegians, I assume they had an actual winter for use in the study, but I wonder what the results would be if they used some of us winterless folk as a control group. Perhaps the study is not proof the curative powers of Vitamin D and the related sunshine as hinted by the “scientists”, but proof that candy canes and animated snowmen kill. What would Prosty the Spokesgland say if he know his relative (at least by name) Frosty was actually an evil harbinger of death?
Playing Possum? Zombie-Tumor?
We’ve killed a lot of the tumors. Now we’re waiting to see what the cancer is going to do. Where it’s going to strike next. It’s not an immediate threat right now. If there’s a growth spurt, or a lot of new tumors show up suddenly, then we’ll react. We’ll fire back. But in the meantime, we wait.
Listening to NPR this morning I caught one of Leroy Sievers’ reports on his battle with cancer. Loved the analogy.
Next week it will have been four years since my own little carcinoma got nuked, along with the rest of my innards. I hope and pray it’s dead, but the reality is that I don’t know. To keep with Sievers’ analogy, I want to go kick the body and make certain, but that’s not an option. Actually I really want to dismember the beast, immerse the parts in acid, cremate whatever elements remain after that and then shoot the ashes into a black hole. Just to make sure, yaknow? But those aren’t options either. I settle for going back to BorgHealth every six months and letting them kick the body, so to speak. Yep, not moving, PSA normal, go home and don’t think about it. Yeah, right. Never take your eyes off the thing.
Underwear and Cancer
Notice they’re smart enough to use models for the public effort – if they threw a lot of us actual prostate cancer survivors into whitey tighties and marched us around town, I think that somehow the public sentiment would be for quarantine along the line of leper colonies, not more research or greater awareness.
Even though it’s been years since I’ve gone a day without thinking about prostate cancer, I’ll be wearing underwear most of tomorrow, and I’ll go ahead and claim a higher purpose in doing it. There may be pictures from our private celebration of the holiday here in San Diego, or maybe not, but until tomorrow, proof that Chuck sometimes wears underwear. If you need proof that Chuck has a prostate, go here.
Superpig Fights Cancer
As much as we both like dead pig cooked in a wide variety of manners, I was going to ignore the recent news articles about the possibility of a healthier, bio-engineered pig. Kinda thought the hype about a healthier greasy meat product was a bit pathetic. Kinda like the ads referring to chewing tobacco as a safer nicotine delivery system.
Then I got one of my little e-mail newsletters from the National Prostate Cancer Foundation. Lo and behold, their lead story this week was drawing the link between the added Omega 3-whatevers produced by the newer, shinier pigs, and recent research in those same Omega 3-whatevers in helping “prevent the spread of aggressive prostate cancer to other parts of the body.”
I like bacon and ham. And pork chops and ribs. Lots of pig parts make good eating. To the extent possible, they are all beloved and essential parts of Malnutrition 2006™, the official diet of Howling Point. I certainly would have preferred to go into an all-bacon regimen then do the radiation thing. I would have loved to have BorgHealth filling my weekly prescription for McRibs. I’ll bet it’s even Atkins-friendly. But it still comes across wrong. And while I never thought I’d say this about any pork product, it comes comes across as a bit tasteless.
Been spending a lot of time at various pools and gyms lately as the billable hours have gone into hiding. Made it to two pools today alone – one for laps (indoors, near the cube) and one for relaxing and tan-line maintenance (home). The cube dwellers’ business has been very slow – which hurts because I’m paid on billable hours, not salary. Don’t really want to be a full-time solo practitioner again (yet?) and I’m reluctant to take on too many part-time clients until I’m more certain of what I’ll be doing in the next few months.
We’re coming up on two years since the radiation started, and my health is as good as its going to get. The safety job has been going on too long, and while it added some stability to both the income stream and the resume that had been lacking in recent years, I think it has outlived its purpose. Time to get on with a career-type plan, or win the lottery, or something like that.
As part of my underachiever profile, I’ll admit to a tendancy to become complacent. That was probably one of the reasons Prozac scared me so much – it made the complacency obvious and downright dangerous. And yes, I was on Prozac for a while in 2003 – I was a single 39-year-old with a cancer diagnosis and no employer benefits – I’d consider myself (and anyone else in the same situation) a freak if I/they hadn’t been depressed and anxious.
Gotta find some motivation somewhere. Gotta move on.
Death odds on a Monday morning
Nine out of 10 men don’t need treatment but the rest will die, and there’s no good way to tell them apart. It also kills at a higher rate than breast cancer. Nearly 32 men out of 100,000 will die of prostate cancer; 27 women out of 100,000 die of breast cancer.
Yeah, just the kind of analysis I want to wake up to on a Monday morning. Especially as I still wait for BorgHealth to tell me why I was under the weather last week [lab results pending]. Read the article; it’s a good one.
But while news of the Orlando symposium being reported was interesting, the comparisons of prostate cancer funding and advocacy to that for breast cancer in the article put me off a bit. Earlier this year I left a fundraiser for another cancer after the organizer made an off-the-cuff remark that his fundraiser was necessary because HIV/AIDS was getting all the government funding. True or not, advocating for one disease’s programs by running down other disease’s research programs just seems a bit untoward. On top of that, while I have a vested interest in massive research and funding into the causes and treatment of prostate cancer, I’m also still the guy looking for the medical research clause in the Consitution as he wonders why the federal government is in that business in the first place.