My tale begins during my wife's and my annual (November, 1999)trek to Ohio for a family visit. I experienced difficulty in urinating while on the trip, ended up in the motel bathroom all night not able to urinate but eventually passing blood. That prompted me to wake my wife, Nelda, up for a trip to the emergency room. The DR said I had a bladder infection, gave me some antibiotics, and said to see my family DR upon my return.
Things got better within about 24 hours, and I made it back to Texas with the help of DEPENDS and many trips to the plane lavatory. By mid-December I had "recovered" but the DR's recommendation coupled with the memory of blood dripping out of my penis finally got me to make the DR appointment.
"Men don't get bladder infections", DR Larry said. "We need to get you to a urologist".
Enter DR Dan. DR Dan says, "well, the urine looks OK, the sonogram looks OK, but something is going on. I need to perform a cystoscopy on you". I sat in the examination room alone for a few minutes, and really considered getting up and out of there. I did not relish the thought of someone putting something up there. I had quite a conversation with myself, but the vision of the dripping blood kept me there to see the cysto through.
After the numbing medicine was applied, DR Dan came in and said, "relax, take deep breaths, and let out a breath as I push past your prostate." Alot to remember for someone who is scared sh**less! So, I did and he did, and it was over, much less of an ordeal than I had imagined.
"I am surprised, but you have two small tumors in your bladder. We need to take them out." Dr Dan then said the "C" word. "This is not the end of the world, since we have probably caught this before it had invaded the muscle wall."
The surgery (outpatient) was performed the following week. I went home without a foley catheter, but had to get one in the emergency room at 1AM since I had trouble urinating (again!). The foley was removed in a couple of days, and the urinary flow returned to normal after a few more days. Nelda continued as chauffeur for a few weeks.
I have had 12 BCG treatments and 3 cystos since the surgery. My reaction to the BCG has ranged from very mild to extremely strong (lots of blood and clots). I am usually fatigued for 48 hours after treatment. So far, my cystos have all been negative - "perfect bladder", says DR Dan. My next check up is in May, 2001 - a six-month interval since my last one. DR Dan says he does not think I need any more BCG at this time. I am unsure about this, but have decided to opt out for now and see what May brings.
My life has changed a great deal since I was diagnosed, treated and currently have this beast in check. Make no mistake, I sometimes see the beast lurking in dark corners, especially when I begin reverting to the "pre-cancer" me.
So what has changed in my life? Improved diet, increased exercise, some meditation and spiritual awakening, thanking God for each day of life I have been given... Oh, yeah, I have a beautiful grandson just delivered November 11, 2000, 12 months after my Ohio wake-up call. How about that for an anniversary gift?
UPDATE April, 2004
It has been awhile since I have updated this story! First, but probably not foremost, is that I have been clean since January, 2000 and am now on an annual check-up schedule.
My wife and I have just returned from visiting my grandson (now 3 years old) and family for Easter. He is a pure joy to the heart and it is difficult to be so far away (San Antonio to St. Louis).