A longer than necessary story by Bunky Garonzik
August 26-Sept 6, 2008
…During a routine medical exam, my doctor noticed a high blood count in my urine. This led to a trip to my urologist and further testing. The doctor performed a digital test on the prostate. However, it seemed that he was checking my tonsils---The rubber gloves that extended up to his elbow should have been a clue. My PSA count was a little high….6.4 I think. Then a few more tests---a C.T. Scan, and an MRI, and a co-payment that bought a new wing on the hospital. Next, another digital exam where the doctor found his lost Rolex.
At this point he told me that if we lived in Arkansas, we would be engaged. Although the Jackie Gleason Test had nothing to do with sending anyone to the Moon, the subsequent Biopsy nearly sent me. Real tears. He inserted, what seemed like a Lewisville slugger with a camera attached, up my ‘you-know-what’. Then I heard the sound of something like loading a magazine into an M-16, and he squeezed off a round. No Purple Heart---just 11 more rounds. Hadn’t had this good a time since the Alligators ate my baby brother!
A phone call would have done it. But the Doctor wanted that little extra “Doctor Visit” to cover his daughter’s tuition. My co-pay was only $40. I liked his bedside manner, “Everybody who doesn’t have Prostate Cancer please stand up….Not so fast, Bunky. Gotcha!”
I told him I wanted a second opinion. “OK, you are ugly and old”, was his response.
“Now, let’s go over the options:
(1) You can do nothing; the cancer spreads slowly. It will take about 15 years before you die a slow, horrible, painful death. Heck, with your weight, and with the shape you are in, something else will most likely get you before you croak from the cancer. With the size of your tummy, I’d bet you haven’t seen your
pecker in years---you need to diet. “Why”, I asked. “What color is it now?”
(2) Your second choice is the old fashion surgery. We slice you from here to there. Cut out the prostrate and sew you back up. Takes a couple gallons of blood, and then recovery--- provided you don’t take the ‘Horizontal Exit’ out of the hospital--- is a few months. If the pecker is in the way, we’ll take that too---you won’t need it ever again.
(3) Then, we offer the arthroscopy surgery—three days in the hospital---couple of years recovery—done deal. Prepare to pee down your leg at the Tom Thumb.
(4) Also, there is the radiation therapy. We plant some seeds with radiation, they attack the cancer over time, and sometimes the cancer cells will be gone, and the prostate will shrivel up like a dried prune. Go home, do your research and due diligence and let me know.”
…I called my ex brother in law—the plastic surgeon. He said, “none of the above. Do the Robotic Surgery. Period!” My doctor recommended someone in his organization---to get his referral fee, of course. The recommended doctor was Dr. Raul A. Bensilversteen a DeVry honor graduate from Argentina. He finished his studies at home in just three short weeks. Now another $400 consultation. This took an hour because I had to press #2 to communicate with the doctor. He explained the DaVinci Robotic Surgery: “We put you on a gurney, roll you into the O.R. shoot you up with some good drugs from my country, bore 5 holes in your tummy, roll R2D2 on top of you, and I sit at a computer on the other side of the room with a couple of joy sticks. Did I mention that before I was a surgeon, I was the best Nintendo player in my country? In one of the holes goes a tube that blows up your tummy with air so I can see all the stuff inside. In another hole goes a high resolution camera using a bright light with one of those new twisty mercury filled bulbs from China. (If the bulb breaks, the party is over). In two of the other holes goes the fully articulating instruments that I will cut and sew with. The final hole is for the zip lock baggy to pull out the worn out prostate.”
I told him that if things don’t work out, I want to donate my body to science. He said, “No thanks.”
Page 2---The Surgery
…arrive at 5:00 a.m., dress you in one of those Versache gowns---you know the one with the revealing split up the back and the pocket for your smokes on the front. For two reasons—one I couldn’t tie the string in the back, and two, I’m a bit modest, so I put the gown on backwards! I jokingly asked the Doctor to make me a video of the surgery. He said, “Forget the video and told me that good things don’t necessarily come in small packages---turn the gown around.”
…The IV, then--- turn out the lights….Five hours later, I looked as puffy as Aunt Sadie pressed up against a piece of glass. The process is to turn you at about a 70 degree angle with your head down in order to do the surgery. Some swelling occurs. Close family members and sadists showed up at hospital. I felt like the Last Chapter of What’s the Use?
…I pleaded for an early release, and got as much sympathy as a three time loser in Huntsville. The next morning, a force march down the hall---heightening the meaning of what our GI’s went through in Battan, 1942, only Sandra was the one probing me with the bayonet.
…Mid day, the Doctor returned with my video, and said I could go home after I passed some gas. Never a problem before! But the day lingered. By 8:30 p.m., I had worn them out. I felt like I had been liberated by the 6th Ranger Battalion, and Sandra wheeled me away.
…Tough first night, but by 4 a.m. I squeaked one out. If the light at the end of the tunnel is not a train, I’m home free! One thing about a catheter you should know: If you forget that the bag is wrapped around the leg of your nightstand, you will soon remember.
…at first the diet was just a Pancake and Pizza---the only food that they could slide under the door. Later—real food like Jell-O, then Cream of Wheat., and a cup of Apple Sauce all which passed GO, never slowed down, and shot directly south, passing everything else and, well----just passed! The ‘Big One’ was still a few days away.
…another milestone one week later—the catheter removal and follow up visit. Catheter removal is not unlike jumping into an ice plunge pool. It won’t usually kill you, but it will take your breath away faster than seeing Sarah Palin naked.
…not supposed to drive a car for two weeks, or lift anything for 6 weeks. (ain’t gonna go down like that). The pain of the stitches and bruises get better each day, and the Doctor reports that I am cancer Free. Never thought of it before, but I guess I’m a Cancer Survivor…Just what I need, another T shirt.
…lastly, I have been prescribed Levitra, and if I’m lucky enough to get an erection that lasts longer than 10 hours, I ain’t calling my Doctor, but rather all the girls I’ve known since the 10th grade!
…thanks to everyone for the cards, letters, emails, visits, advice, (although I got no cash contributions). And good luck to those who are about to go through the surgery, and speedy recovery for those who have already gone through it!
Allan (Bunky) Garonzik is a freelance writer. Called that because Free is about what his work is worth. His writing skills emerged some years ago, but until the advent of SpellCheck , he could never get anything on paper. While spelling, concept, fresh ideas, grammar, punctuation, and uniqueness have never really been part of his style, at 65, he plans to make it on looks alone.