Some good news, and then the whinge.
Yesterday, I had the telephone follow up appointment to my May operation. The biopsies of my bladder and prostate were clear. Just like the March biopsies. After the discovery of cancer in my prostate in January and the resulting surgery to remove it, two biopsies in two months have shown no sign of any cancer. That feels great.
Then the consultant went through the options from this point on. Still on the table is the full removal of my bladder, bowel and prostate. I don’t really understand this, especially when the consultant said that we “missed the boat” on doing this back in January. I think we have different understandings of missing the boat because he reassures me that he’s not saying that I’m doomed to the cancer returning with fatal consequences. I’m reminded of my conversation with the Macmillan nurse, the first time that full removal was mentioned and how she explained that it was common practice to offer patients this option. Despite both their reassurances, I struggle to square such a drastic intervention after two clear biopsies.
The consultant knows my view about having everything out, so we quickly move on to the other options. He explains that it is “prudent to keep our eye out.” He’s talking about keeping his eye out, more than mine, and what this entails is going through the whole procedure again in September. Prudent it most definitely is, but the thought of another general anaesthetic, another catheter, another fortnight of blood filled, painful peeing makes my heart sink. And another MRI scan, just prior to the surgery. A darned nuisance, but the only way of really keeping our eye out. If all goes well, and that means three clear biopsies in six months, he will discharge me back to my local hospital for future care.
Then, the other pisser piece of news. I had already told him that I’m due to meet my hernia specialist next week and I want to be at my most assertive in pushing him to fix a date for the surgery. I’m told that I need to hold fire and postpone any hernia surgery until after the September operation. My heart sinks a bit more. It feels like I pressed a pause button back in July 2018 and it’s now going to be at least July 2022 before I can unpause. The consultant doesn’t really get this. He keeps mentioning that I’ve got my corset now as if it has allowed me to return to the life that I once knew. I’m too embarrassed to tell him that I’ve only worn the corset three times since I got it. I still can’t do many of the things that make me, me. I’m scared of how my diminished fitness levels are going to make it harder to recover from the repeated surgeries.
There’s no answer to any of this. It can’t be therapied away. The swings between hope & positivity and grinding disappointment are part of life now. I’ll probably feel quite different in an hour’s time. Yearning for a session in the gym, or a dive into the coldest lido is the new normal and must remain, a yearning.
Last week, I was desperate for a swim. But vanity kicks in too and I couldn’t bear to display my huge encumbrance in a public Pool. So I booked myself into an airport hotel for a night and prayed that their private pool wouldn’t be busy. It wasn’t. A couple were leaving just as I arrived and I had the pool and spa to myself for 45 minutes. It was heavenly. And then I went back to my room and had a long sob as I wrestled with the 20 straps on my corset so that I would look presentable for dinner.
I’m so glad that the biopsy was clear. I’m so glad that my consultant is keeping his eye out. I just need to keep my eye out for the good stuff of life. Because there’s still a lot of it.