Most middle-aged and older men come down with BPH: Benign Prostatic Hypertrophy. The
small, lackluster prostate gland grows tired of being ignored, and needs, when it is older, like an apple, to be cored. One pees a lot more frequently; more slowly than before. You wake up many times each night and make the long walk to the john. That’s no big deal except sometimes you can’t get back to sleep. The brain, when darkness blinds the sky, rejects your mind’s control, and starts to dredge up all the stuff you’d never think about during the day: the petty ego-driven stuff, the negative, neurotic stuff, the shameful, irritating things that happened in third grade that you have never really processed or forgot.
But that’s beside the present point. The point is that one’s prostate gland gets big. What
used to stream majestically now barely trickles out, or merely drips. Sometimes you have to look to see if you are done or not, so subtle has the whole ordeal become. Last March I went to see my doctor for the annual checkup I get every three or four years. My blood work came back from the lab. The PSA (Prostate-Specific Antigen) was high. Uh oh. I went to a urologist. The MRI and finger-wave both showed anomalies. A biopsy came after that. Let’s say it wasn’t fun. They have a sort of telescope that they stuff up your nether parts. Then they insert a catheter with nasty, sharp, spring-loaded teeth, and cut a dozen plugs of tissue from the swollen gland. Those are analyzed under a microscope. The news, as it turned out, was not so good, but not as bad as the procedure felt.
A little bit of knowledge can be dangerous, they say. I’d read somewhere – as you have, too – that most old men get prostate cancer and it’s no big deal. It grows so slowly that they just ignore it, by and large. (Presumably, you’ll die of something else.) So, when they told me I
had The Big C, I didn’t flinch. I just ignored it for the first few months, despite the exhortations of more knowledgeable friends, and of my wife, who must suspect that if I die, she’ll have to take the garbage out herself.
What I didn’t really know, or want to know, is that some prostate cancers are aggressive to the max – as mine turned out to be – and, if you don’t get rid of it in time, your tumor will metastasize, invade the lymph nodes and your bones and then, you’re gonna die. If it has spread, just smile and wave goodbye.
In that regard, my luck was good. The bone scan came back clear. I’m now on Lupron (hormone) shots – $6000 per shot, four times a year. To thrive, this cancer needs testosterone. Unlike most of my aging friends who take injections every month to boost their waning “T,” the hormone shots which I receive eliminate testosterone. The Lupron’s augmented my bust but has lowered my boom. In truth, I’ve come down with E.D. But, as you’ll see, next time we meet, my legs are long and shapely now. I’ve sprouted an imposing rack. When I walk past construction sites, the guys all whistle and get lewd. I’m trying to get used to how this feels. The worst part -so embarrassing! – is how I lurch and wobble in high heels.