Yesterday I finally went in for my long dreaded prostate biopsy. It’s something I have thought about as a possibility for many years and has been weighing largely on my shoulders for a good part of this year. I’ve written about my experiences previously with test results and different doctors, scheduling an MRI and possible biopsy, unscheduling and more tests, a new doctor and more waiting. Finally about three weeks ago it was determined that I needed to have this biopsy by my new doctor, so we got it scheduled. Of course, the last thing I wanted to have to do was have a rod shoved up my ass and a dozen needles plunged through my rectum wall into my prostate – all while awake. There is nothing in my imagination that could make this sound like a fun experience. Add to that the pleasantries of what they could find and my worried mind has not enjoyed all the months and weeks waiting for this to happen.
I went ahead and went to work yesterday because I didn’t have to be at the doctor’s office until 1:30, but it was hard getting much done. I just wanted this to be over. I met my wife at home for lunch and then we made our way to the appointment. It’s a surreal feeling being on the way to something you have been thinking about for a long time and that you know may change your life. Kinda like the ride to the hospital when my wife was in labor. Lots of worry about what’s going to happen over the next couple hours, but in that case we got to leave with our little girl. Not a two week wait to find out if I have cancer.
The doctor’s office is a big urology group in our area with lots of patients coming and going, and I was, without a doubt, the youngest one I saw all day. At 49 I’m seemingly a little young to be going through all this, but my PSA scores are high and my dad had prostate cancer at 59, so a biopsy is the next step. So here we go.
They call my name. This is for getting an antibiotic shot. I had been taking an antibiotic for a week already because I have had prostatitis issues in the past and the doctor wanted to bring any infection chances down. The shot was the standard antibiotic hit right before the biopsy to further eliminate any infection chance. The chance of infection from a prostate biopsy is low overall, but higher than most other procedures of this nature – so there is a lot of precautions and instructions concerning infection. They give me the shot – and it’s not fun. They do it in the thigh area and leave the needle in for a while – working the antibiotic in. It stings while the needle is in and then really burns after they take it out. I can feel it all down my leg to my ankle. They send me back out to my wife to wait for the biopsy time and I’m hurting. I’m thinking – wow – if it hurts this much just getting this stupid shot, what is the actual biopsy going to be like?
About 40 minutes later they call me again. Game time. I go back, drop the drawers, and sit on an exam bed with a paper sheet over me. And wait. And worry. And read the same signs on the wall over and over again. Eventually the nurse comes in with the ultrasound machine and gets me in position. Get on your left side in a fetal position. Slide over to the edge of the bed. A little farther. Jut your – naked – bottom just over the edge. There. Perfect. Stay like that. The doctor will be in soon. And I wait. And wait. And read the same signs on the wall again. Over and over. I notice a waste container on the floor and lift my head to look in. It’s filled with canisters with what look like long needles coming out of them. Not a pretty sight. My heart is racing. And I wait. And my back hurts. My watch buzzes and I look at my notification. Gene Wilder died. Oh man. Willy Wonka. Blazing Saddles. Young Frankenstein. Dead. That’s worse than what I’m going through. I’ll be back home shortly. This will all be over at some point. Gene Wilder is dead.
The doctor comes in and everything starts to happen. Him being there makes everything a lot better somehow. He is a really good doctor. He puts in the ultrasound wand and tells me that I have a pretty large prostate – which is reassuring. It would explain the high PSA score. I ask him if cancer makes the prostate large like that and he said no. He gives me four shots inside to numb the area and they feel kinda like the shots dentist give for fillings and crowns. Not too bad. Not anywhere near as bad as the antibiotic shot. Then he starts the biopsies and does a countdown from 3 before each one. They were like a thump, but no pain. Then it was over. He said he didn’t see anything on the ultrasound that worried him. He said a lot of cancer usually shows up with black splotches and he didn’t see anything like that. He said that if the biopsies do come back positive then it should be at the very early stages. It was going to take two weeks to get the results because my insurance company requires the samples to be sent to their lab. Wonderful. I thank the doctor, get dressed, and go out to see my wife.
Before we leave I go to the bathroom to pee and get my first round of many more to come of a splash of blood in the urinal. I’m so glad it’s over and can’t believe that the worst part of it all was the shot in the thigh at the very beginning. At least it was until later – after we got home. Things got rather uncomfortable after the local wore off. I was getting these waves of pain from inside mixed with strong feelings of having to use the bathroom. Eventually it subsided some and I fell asleep for a little while. When I woke I felt a lot better. The rest of that night and all day today I’ve been treated with blood in my urine. It could go one for a few days. Maybe even a week. No fever so far, so no infection so far – so all is good.
Now the waiting.
And Gene Wilder died, which, of course, makes me very sad. I think about what he must of gone through when Gilda Radner died so young, so long ago. How we are all going to die at some point, but keep doing whatever we can to keep living. And then I think about something Willy Wonka himself said once:
There’s no earthly way of knowing
Which direction we are going
There’s no knowing where we’re rowing
Or which way the river’s flowing
Is it raining?
Is it snowing?
Is a hurricane a-blowing?
Not a speck of light is showing
So the danger must be growing
Are the fires of hell a-glowing?
Is the grisly reaper mowing?
Yes, the danger must be growing
‘Cause the rowers keep on rowing
And they’re certainly not showing
Any signs that they are slowing!