Writing My Life

Now and Then


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My “Uniquely Boring Life”: Turning Point – CaNcER

G before his scope and scrape.

Step 1: Awaiting the “scope and scrape”.

Lives have so many turning points that I wonder what kind of map is created by all the crooked cow-paths. I think most people could fill a book based solely on the turning points that direct their mortal journeys. But today, I want to chat about our latest turn of events.

Enter February, 2017. G.E. learns he is a candidate for Type 2 Diabetes and must check his glucose once a day. I panic. This man has NEVER watched his eating as long as I have known him – 48 years. He doesn’t know what “nutrition fact” food labels are, and he is confused about problems associated with carbohydrates. But he surprises me by taking charge of his health, learns the devastating truth behind sugar, and bids farewell to his candy jars and ice cream bars. Yay for him. Yay for me. He loses pounds and lowers glucose readings.  I don’t gain weight. A plus.

In comes March 2017 like a lion, a monster, a devil. After a month of “spotting”, G.E. starts bleeding before, during, and after peeing.  The episodes are similar to menopausal women’s periods in that they last a couple of days. Stop. And start again. After two trips to the emergency room because we can’t get into a urologist until March 20th, he is diagnosed with Urinary Tract Infection. In spite of antibiotics, bleeding continues and possible kidney stones are blamed.

March 20th finally arrives, and the physicians’ assistant suggests weekly urine samples after reassuring us that many situations can cause bleeding, but most are harmless. Relax. The on-again/off-again bleeding continues – but NOT when urine samples are due. G. doesn’t feel well, and urination becomes difficult and painful. Third sample is filled with blood, and G. refuses to leave the urologist’s office without talking to the doctor.

April 13th. Gar undergoes a scope ‘n scrape. (This procedure has a long official name and a short acronym, but I can remember neither.) I face the urologist M.D. all by myself to learn he removed tumors in the bladder and a larger one in the urethra to send to pathology for a diagnosis. Our conversation continues like this:

Me: What do you think of these tumors?
Doc: Do you want me to be forthright?
Me (thinking – No please lie to me, and then make it so.): Yes.
Doc: I think they are cancerous.
Me (pausing to process): If it is, what can be done?
Doc: Probably surgery to remove the bladder and penis.
Me (thinkingI don’t care as long as he lives. How am I going to tell Gar? I am totally numb. I can’t even cry.): When will we get the results back?

April 20th. We receive the results. The doctor is right about the cancer, but it is more serious than he thought. “Crazy”, he says. So crazy, he refers us to Huntsman Cancer Institute. And Dr. Christopher Dechet. And so our lives turn. But the urologist was wrong about one thing: no penectomy.