Sunday, January 31, 2016

It's not an EZ road to recovery.

I've joined a support group for prostate cancer victims on Facebook. I also attend a live support group that meets once a month. Here is a description of my experience that I have shared with those groups.

I'm 65 yo, reasonably healthy but about 10% over ideal weight. I had the DaVinci radical prostatectomy on 3 December 15. 12 of 14 biopsy cores had been positive, Gleason of 7 (4+3 with "excursions" to 5) and some evidence of extra-capsule malignancy. Both the radiation oncologist and the surgical oncologist (and second opinion) agreed surgery was the best first choice for me, as it can be followed by radiation if not fully successful but, for some reason, it's less desirable to do surgery if the radiation doesn't fully work. I spent two nights in hospital, had next to no pain, painkillers for only two days post-discharge. I took the month of December off (slept  and went back to work 1st workday of January. Will go back for F/U with first post-surgery PSA early February. The surgeon was able to do "nerve sparing" surgery on one, but not both sides, of the prostate area. They took the seminal vesicles and samples of the lymph nodes as well. Pathology after surgery was good with all "clean edges" but it did show some extra-capsular malignancy which was removed. At this point, I'm finding that I still have excess fatigue and tire VERY easily. The incontinence is my big gripe, very demoralizing, and I've not seen any improvement, yet. I had a catheter for one week. Since it's removal, if I'm standing or walking, I'm leaking. I can hold it no problem sitting or laying down. Coughing, sneezing, laughing no problem unless standing. I'm using "prompted toileting" using the timer on my iPhone to remind me to void every hour while awake. I am receiving rehabilitative care once a week with biofeedback on the Kegels and electrostimulation for the pelvic floor muscle. I find I do better on holding the urine when I'm fresh than when I'm tired. I've been prescribed daily Viagra and issued an expensive pump, but there's no sign of life there yet. My wife is demonstrating the meaning of patience. A deciding factor for me: every Dr. I consulted said side effects are initially worse with surgery but they get better -- with radiation, side effects are minimal up front but a significant number of men so treated have onset of incontinence and impotence later on and the side effects then get worse over time and never get better.


Sunday, December 6, 2015

It's more EZ at home

Well, here I am at home. Prostateless post-surgery and wearing a catheter. while I have been prescribed some pain killer, the pain is not really bad. The catheter is uncomfortable, but it should go away in about 10 days.  I have a long list of do and don't items. Get lots of rest. Walk a lot. Avoid stairs, etc.  I may be back later for a bit more discussion, but now that I've walked a bit, I feel the need for some rest.

Friday, November 27, 2015

The saga of an EZ life

For much of my life, I have felt as though my existence was charmed, and I often wondered why, even feeling, perhaps, a bit of survivor's guilt knowing that I had done nothing especially worthy of the gifts with which I had been blessed. I've not been notably good nor notably bad, either. In fact, I have noted that I'm not very good at being bad, but I am pretty bad at being good.

I lived a comfortable life - so many worked so much harder and not been so blessed.
I achieved a fair rank - so many served with so much more distinction and did not progress as far.
My health problems were always minor - so many took much better care of their health and yet suffered.

And it goes on this way in every aspect of life. I am, at age 65, married to my childhood (literally) sweetheart. We recently celebrated our 47th anniversary. We raised a relatively large family and have been blessed with healthy and honorable children and now grandchildren. We lost none to accident, violence, disease, drugs, or prison.  Unfortunately, I know many parents who cannot say the same thing. We have a supportive community and many good friends.

I was born late in my parents' lives, so never knew my grandparents. My mother's father died when I was about 2 years old -- the others all gone long before that. I have lost my own parents, one sibling (who passed at about age 72), and now my wife has bid final farewells to both of her parents. This would seem to be just the normal course of life, events to be expected in any life.

The fall of 2015, though, seems to be different, with a variety of things coming to a head sort of all at once.

First, I'm having my first real health challenge (at least not of my own making) with a diagnosis of prostate cancer. I have earlier written about this.

My beloved wife has had a series of health challenges, but the most bothersome has been a condition called orthostatic hypotension. When she stands, her blood pressure drops and the body does not react to compensate. She has had several severe falls from blacking out. We've had every known medical test performed and cannot find the cause. Doctors say, "learn to live with it."

We are blessed that we have good health insurance to offset the costs -- many are not so blessed.

One week ago, my eldest brother called and he was very agitated, going on loudly about things that had him upset. Things that just could not be true. Now he is resident in a mental care facility as he's just lost touch with reality, apparently through dementia, and was judged to be a threat to himself and others. Just two weeks ago, this noble and robust warrior celebrated his 81st birthday.

During that same week, I received news that my eldest sister, born in 1932, has been diagnosed with uterine cancer.

Later that same night came the call summoning my wife to return to Idaho for her father's funeral.

The change to Social Security rules signed into effect by law in early November impacts our pending retirement plans as it effectively reduces our income for next year by over $7,000.00 due to the elimination of a program that we had planned on as an integral part of our retirement program. The program called "file and suspend," ends the day before I would have been eligible to enroll.

Having so many stressors all at once, I have to say, has been hard for me to deal with. There have been recent days that I have lost my temper needlessly and I have struck out at inanimate objects. There have been days I've not been able to concentrate, nor relax, nor work. There have been nights without sleep. So much all at once after such a long life of minimal trouble reminds me of a recurring nightmare that I had throughout my teen years: In my dream, after a lifetime of pushing a huge rounded boulder up a steep hill, just as I reached the apex of the summit, where the rock could with one more push, tumble freely over the other side, my sandal-shod foot slipped and I fell face down to be crushed by the boulder rolling back onto me. After my teen years, the dream left me with only very rare occasional replays.

At the time, I did not know of the myth of Sisyphus--the exact story of which I was dreaming. But I know the story now, and as I reach the entry to my "golden years" and retirement, after a lifetime of work, am I to be Sisyphus?

Sunday, November 22, 2015

My politics are EZ - do no harm and mind your own business.

How I became a Libertarian:

As a child in the 1950s, Senators Josiah Bailey, Robert Byrd, J. William Fulbright, Al Gore Sr., and Representative Howard W. Smith (among many others) taught me to not be a Democrat because the racial segregation they so strongly supported just seemed wrong to me even as a child.

Later, President John Kennedy and his brother Robert taught me to dream big dreams and that there may be powerful good in either party (and how we mourned, and still do, their deaths, recalled on this 22nd of November).

Presidents Johnson and Nixon taught me that leaders of both parties will lie, cheat, and steal for power and may not be worthy of trust.

President Carter taught me that a good heart may not be enough to qualify a person for the highest office of our land; and that it is not wise to beat a swimming rabbit while there are photographers present.

In the 1990s and early years of this century, Dick Cheney and Don Rumsfeld taught me that patriotism can be twisted for evil purposes and that we should be cautious with government power overseas while John Ashcroft taught me to fear government power at home.

Both Presidents Bush taught me that you can't trust the Republicans to control spending and government bloat.

Recently President Obama has taught me that any opposition to the policies and actions of those in power can be dismissed and marginalized simply by ad hominem attacks on anyone who disagrees.

Then I took this very short quiz:
      http://www.theadvocates.org/quiz/quiz.php

Bingo. I'm a Libertarian.

My original intention with this rant was a short Facebook post, but in writing it I decided I'm simply not up to the fights that such a post would generate.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Do not go EZ into that good night (with apologies to Dylan Thomas)

We lost my father in law, Glenn Elwood Baum, this morning at about 2:00 AM MST. He passed while sleeping at his home in Twin Falls, Idaho. His wife, Netta, and daughter, Carolyn, were at this bedside. His daughter, Laurie, said, "He was home, and that's where he wanted to be."

Glenda will travel from our home in San Antonio, TX, to Twin Falls to be with family.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Sometimes breakfast is not EZ over the morning news.

My favorite breakfast cereal has been a Saturday morning treat for me since I was about five years old. This morning, I noted that I had only one serving left in the house. Time to plan some shopping. Then, the milk that I poured onto that cereal came out in lumps. I hate it when that happens. Then, I realized, if that's my biggest problem, I am truly blessed. Je Suis Paris!

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Modern does not mean EZ.

I want 1999 back. This is NOT the twenty-first century I expected to live in.