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column: Doctor Doom Probes Prostate

                Since this column relates to cancer, and I’m promotions chair for the Noble County Relay for Life, I’d be remiss if I didn’t again mention that worthy organization’s need for both donations and people to help in organizing and holding the Relay. Please go to their website, or contact any Relay member, to help out in any way you can:





                I thought some of you might be interested in an update about my health. Now that I’m running for Town Council again, a serious illness could cause a crisis of power and questions of a peaceful transition of government.


Okay, I didn’t think all that many of you would be interested in my health, but not meeting my column deadline could harm my financial health.

                How long ago did my cancer scare started? A couple of years, I suppose. I got a PSA test, which stands for ... let’s see … Prostate Specific Antigen. Yay, my memory’s okay!

                The PSA numbers were a little high, so they sent me to a urologist. You’d think a urologist would involve himself in urine, wouldn’t you? I mean, the name and all. I figured the guy would say, “Pee in a cup.”

                Instead he said, “Pull down your pants and bend over”.

                I’m not going to identify the doctor. He’s a very nice guy and probably wouldn’t mind, but would you shake his hand if you knew what he did for a living? I’m trying out various nicknames for him, though, starting with “Doctor Plunger”.

                Honestly, I couldn’t describe what he looks like. I haven’t been able to look him in the eyes since then, although I did buy flowers and ask him to keep in touch.

                The numbers were just high enough that he decided to send me in for a prostate biopsy. In the interest of public service I won’t describe the procedure, because men should be willing to get one. You can probably figure it out for yourself, though. The only thing I had going for me is that I was down in Fort Wayne, and the doctor was a guy, and who would understand my discomfort more?

                Except the person doing the procedure turned out to be female, who’s related to the lady who cuts my hair.

                I’ll never show up at one of their family gatherings.

                The biopsy came back okay. No cancer, but a couple of cells that could be thinking about being cancer. Kind of pre-pre-cancer, or maybe cancer wannabes. After going over the results, Doctor Fat Finger and I decided to keep an eye on things with periodic PSA tests. It’s the most thankful I’ve ever been to get a needle in the arm, instead of other places where it could have gone.

                The problem is, the next PSA rating more than doubled.

                I wasn’t scared of getting cancer. I was scared of getting another biopsy. How misguided is that?  I do remember being very angry about the possibility that I might die before getting my first novel published, but now that Storm Chaser’s release has been scheduled for June of this year I think I’m pretty safe. (See how I slipped that free publicity in there? Always be closing.)

                After thinking on It (Not literally on it – ew), Doctor Roto-Rooter decided the PSA might have been taken too close to the biopsy, leaving open the possibility that my poor, abused prostate (Could they at least buy me dinner before the next exam?) was throwing off higher numbers because of being overstimulated. Um, insert a joke of your own, I’m not going there. I said insert. Heh.

                This leads me to today. Well, not literally today – it’s been a few months ago for you, the somewhat queasy reader of this fascinating medical thriller. January’s always bad for me, but this one seemed a bit worse. I’d managed to hurt my back shoveling snow, I was struggling with the decision of

whether to run again for Town Council, we barely survived a drive in a snowstorm, and my carefully planned schedule degenerated into me missing every

one of my non-work appointments for most of the month.

                Not a great start to the year. Then I received the call that my new PSA reading was 6.0 – almost exactly the same as last time.

                Good news? Bad? Should I start working on my bucket list, or worry that Doctor Seymour Butts was going to want something else shoved up my bucket?

                When I got in to see him, his response was: “Drop your pants and bend over”.

                I had to spend the rest of the appointment staring at the floor.

                Still, he had cautiously good news. My levels hadn’t risen, there were no other symptoms, and my prostate … well, there’s no delicate way to say it felt normal. His working theory is that the biopsy frightened my poor little prostate (still little, thank goodness), causing it to give off abnormally high levels of frightened antigens.  Having another biopsy might send the levels even higher, resulting in a dog-chases-tail scenario, and isn’t that an apt comparison? Best continue to keep an eye on things, figuratively speaking.

                So there are two ways of looking at this. One is that it’s bad news: No real answer, just the world’s longest health scare. The other is good news: Indications are this is probably not cancer, and getting tapped for a vial of blood once every four months doesn’t do me any harm.

                I choose the good.

Now to deal with the back injury, which, I assure you, did not happen while being examined at Doctor Plunger’s office.

                Thank goodness my chiropractor never asks me to drop anything.



( 16 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 21st, 2011 11:43 am (UTC)
I hope everything levels out soon, or better news would be if the levels dropped.
Apr. 21st, 2011 08:49 pm (UTC)
It certainly would be better news, but I'm not overly concerned. Most of the men in my family drop dead of heart attacks long before any other disease can get them.

Which ... isn't really all that encouraging, is it?
Apr. 21st, 2011 12:02 pm (UTC)
Very pleased that everything seems to be unchanged!

When Mr Cee asked about prostate exams (when he hit 40) he was told that very many elderly men have prostate cancer, but it's rarely what kills them, and they are usually completely unaware of it.

I do like that in the US they check you out because of your medical insurance. We don't get routine checks here apart from a very few suggested tests (mostly for women) here.
Apr. 21st, 2011 08:51 pm (UTC)
The older I get, the more okay I am with routine checks. But what Mr Cee was told is absolutely true: Prostate cancer is relatively common, but it's also one of the slowest growing cancers. It's not unheard of for it to be diagnosed but just left alone, if the doctors feel it won't spread fast enough to be a factor before the patient dies of other natural causes. That would freak me out a bit, though, knowing I had cancer for sure ...
Apr. 21st, 2011 12:41 pm (UTC)
Biopsy is an awful test procedure, at least on my pain scale. I am a wimp.
A blood sample, I can handle. Not cheerfully, but I can do it.
William Kendall
Apr. 21st, 2011 03:33 pm (UTC)
I hope everything turns out all right....
Apr. 21st, 2011 08:54 pm (UTC)
It will turn out fine. It has to: I have novels to write!
Apr. 21st, 2011 08:54 pm (UTC)
I was really pleasantly surprised, if you can call anything about that experience pleasant. There was a topical painkiller used, and although it did hurt just a little it wasn't nearly as bad as I thought it might be. Uncomfortable? *Yes*.
Apr. 24th, 2011 04:05 am (UTC)
In medical circles, "this possibly will cause some discomfort" is much like calling a tornado a "wind current."
Technically accurate, but very misleading.
Apr. 25th, 2011 07:03 am (UTC)
Very true!
Apr. 21st, 2011 02:26 pm (UTC)
from DM
Mike, what an interesting time you've been having. The good thing is their concern for finding the pre-cancer cells early. The bad thing is the way they have to test. I keep waiting for the Star Trek S/P shaker that McCoy just holds above the body, does the diagnosis and cures the illness. Again, I am glad you are well.
Apr. 21st, 2011 08:57 pm (UTC)
Re: from DM
Yes, we need Star Trek technology for these things! I wonder ... have researchers even looked into the healing properties of salt shakers?
Mike Saxton
Apr. 21st, 2011 10:48 pm (UTC)
Yeah, if I'm going to see a doctor, it's going to be a chiropractor. It seems to me that if there was bad news, the indicators would have been much more clear. My vote is to consider this good news in that your body is having normal reactions to fear and that is a positive thing.
Apr. 22nd, 2011 05:29 am (UTC)
Re: Chiropractors
I'm with you!
Apr. 22nd, 2011 02:24 am (UTC)
The whole thing seems like a pain in the butt. I'm very glad the news is good! (I'm with you on seeing this as good news.) (Doctor Fat Finger is the best of the pseudonyms.)
Apr. 22nd, 2011 05:30 am (UTC)
i think when talking to him directly I'll just call him sir! Or Sir Probes-alot, that might be good.
( 16 comments — Leave a comment )

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