(If you have an aversion to frank honesty, this is not the blog to read. The subject of this entry took place during the second week of October)
It was awful. It was traumatic. It was sad.
Here is what happened.
Being in the medical profession, my wife gets on me to have regular blood tests (I really hate being stuck by needles). She looked at the PSA score of my most recent blood test (PSA is an indicator of prostate cancer). I was well within the normal range; nothing to worry about. But she has received new and recent training that taught her to compare the latest PSA score with my previous PSA score, something a lot of doctors don’t do (it’s a hassle to retrieve the previous scores). There was a spike between the two scores — another potential indicator for prostate cancer.
She demanded I go to the urologist to get a prostate check. Because of its affiliation with the hospital for which my wife works, our HMO requires I get anything medical done down in Orange County, a minimum 45 minute drive (rush hour much more) from our home.
“Hon,” I said. “You’ve got gloves — and, more importantly, slender fingers. You do this all the time at work. Why not check me here and now?”
She saw the logic of my proposal (and knew what it would take to get me down to Orange County) and complied. I dropped trou. Ouch! I know; some guys pay hookers good money for this very same procedure — albiet under very different circumstances!
Well, she found an anomaly — a flat spot on one of my prostate’s two lobes (the prostate gland is a somewhat heart-shaped organ). We immediately booked a visit with a urologist for the next morning. His much larger finger confirmed that the two sides didn’t match and booked me for a biopsy. Note the word “biopsy”…to me, that word sounds singular.
I got up early and had a delightful administration of an enema (to clear the area of this morning’s concern). It’s always great to begin the day with humiliation. Then, I took an antibiotic (to prevent infection). My wife drove me down to Yorba Linda, a faceless part of the mostly faceless county named Orange. I really dislike the O. C. or Orangutan County or the Orange Curtain as it is also known. I used to live there in Anaheim when I was working at Disneyland, the happiest place on earth. That day (with morning traffic) it was about an hour and a half drive. Not so happy.
The urology office was closed but opened by my urologist about ten minutes after we had arrived. The doc was seeing me for the procedure fifteen minutes before he normally opened as a professional courtesy to my wife who refers a lot of her patients to him. A nice perk, considering that the next open appointment that I could make was about a month away.
I brought reading material that I never had a chance to look at (Rolling Stone felt compelled to confide in me who’s Hot! in their Hot! issue). The doctor immediately asked me to drop my jeans in one of the patient rooms and then gave me a quick shot in the butt. This was a drug cocktail consisting of another antibiotic and atropine, something to make me not pass out (I have a pretty big aversion to needles and occasionally hit the ground hard in their presence. What a wuss! I’d make a terrible junkie).
While waiting for the drugs to kick in we moved to The Room and made medical chat (I was going to be a doctor and was a science/math major in high school, so I find medical stuff fascinating) that occasionally touched on prostate info. I learned all about free percentage predictability of prostate cancer, something based upon a series of happy medical study coincidences in Maryland. The Room had a table/chair that could accommodate a normal prone position as well as an ass-sky-high-in-the-air position. There were several objects on the counter that would not look out of place in any West Hollywood sex shop — or a David Cronenberg movie. I never looked at them again; once was plenty.
I was ordered to take off my pants and was given a paper sheet for modesty’s sake. Ha! For what was to come that was like giving me a band-aid for a slashed carotid artery. I was told to climb onto the table and to lie on my side facing the wall. As the anal probe began I made a jest about hardly knowing my violator. “Let’s keep it that way,” he grimly joked.
It was extremely uncomfortable, with occasional pain. I gritted my teeth and clenched my fists as the doctor searched with his ultrasound video for anomalies in my prostate. He told me he found none. This all took what seemed like a long, long time. I had anticipated that the entire procedure would have been over by then but we were just getting started. He warned me he was going to inject a local anesthetic into my prostate and that I might feel a sting. Ouch! Boy, did I ever. And then he gave me three more.
He told me to tell him if my tongue went numb. Somehow this happens a lot. I’ll ask my gay friends later about the ass/tongue connection. After the anesthetic kicked in, he began taking the biopsy. Well, biopsies plural — a lot of them! Ten! It felt like someone was using a staple gun up inside my ass. The tool actually works like a high tech spud gun. With an audible POP! it darts a hollow needle-like tube into the targeted area and removes a slender wormlike section of the prostate.
In the past, I was informed, there was no anesthesia and the the needle taking the sample was of a huge gauge. 30% of the patients back then never returned for future biopsies, despite the specter of potentially having cancer and detecting it in time to save their lives. I’m with them — and I had the anesthetic and smaller needle.
Along with the grueling (and literal) pain in the ass, soon I felt overwhelming sadness and began to weep in lamentation for the pieces of me that were being forever taken from my body. I felt violated and traumatized. I don’t think I’m cut out for gay sex. All of this was done, after all, with consent.
Finally, it was over. Or at least that part was over. The doctor and my wife said everything looked great. The doctor left and I turned and scooted up on the table, lying on my back. I was still extremely sad and laid there for awhile. I wasn’t dizzy, though, and asked for my underwear and jeans and got myself dressed. But upon standing up I broke down and wept for the loss of the parts of myself. What was in that injection?!
We proceeded to the nurse desk to make an appointment for Tuesday (to gauge their patients’ psychological reaction to the news, doctors understandably like to deliver it in person). I began to feel faint and went out to the waiting room where there were chairs. I sat and put my head way down while my wife negotiated the Tuesday appointment. She got the doctor to agree to call me if it was good news rather than having me schlep all the way back down to friggin’ Yorba Linda. So, of course, if I’m told I have to adhere to my Tuesday appointment I’ll know it’s bad news.
I walked to the car, got in and we took off, headed for home. I just wanted to lie down in my bed — but my body wasn’t finished with it’s reaction to the trauma just visited upon it. As we drove I started getting extremely lightheaded. I rolled down the window to let in some fresh air and reclined my seat. That helped for only a very short while; I suddenly felt nauseous. I asked my wife to pull over and find me a bag into which I could throw up. She got one out of the trunk. We resumed our trip back home. I began to experience what felt like extreme motion sickness. I asked to pull over again. I did about six forceful dry heaves that left my esophagus raw. Nothing came out because I had already evacuated everything from my system earlier that morning. I laid down on the seat and we continued our drive home. Not long after I began feeling better, although I became somewhat irrationally angry with my urologist and referred to his tools as “evil”. Those drugs again.
I got home. The anesthetics in my ass hadn’t worn off, so I was able to sit down and type all of this. I understood from my fellow survivors of this terrible procedure that that wouldn’t be true in a little while. Actually, there was no recurrence of pain in my case. Or my ass.
I partook of a medicinal fatty (thank you California voters!) a fan had given me and took the day off, though, if anyone reading this knows me, my day off didn’t last longer than half an hour. So much to do! Oh, and no sex for three days. I must say that right then my mood and overall mental state was such that sex was one of the last things on my mind or agenda. It dropped even further on my To Do list in the hours that followed.
NEXT: Tuesday’s Results