Tuesday. They warn you when you leave the hospital that occasionally you will throw a clot that will appear in the urine bag. OK. One or two very small ones popped up over the last week, but very small pin head sized affairs, no sweat. Then this morning, putting on the leg pack, going to lunch at the "hole in the wall with the nice waitress" restaurant, returning, feeling a little tired, taking off the pants I noticed the shot glass of so of liquid in the bag was bright red. Oh. Then more bright red. Then something that looked like a string maybe three or four inches long, clearly made out of blood, but what, skin and blood? Blood and blood? OK. Either way. Then the color went back to normal (ha, ha). The tube comes out tomorrow. Not a minute too soon.
Otherwise, whatever progress I made yesterday seems on hold, blood in the urine just a novelty sidelight. No big deal, spent a lot of time in bed listening the radio feeling tired. Feeling good, but tired. The public television news program had a piece questioning whether testing for prostate cancer was useful or not. They were saying there is no firm evidence catching it early, as I have, makes any difference in the outcome. In other words, if you develop cancer in the prostate, well, whether you have it out or not, there is no evidence you will live any longer with or without treatment.
In other words, something else will either kill you first - heart disease, stroke, the usual suspects - or it will never grow to the point that it breaks out into your system, or it will break out and kill you, but it tends to kill the same percentage of men whether they had the prostate removed or not. Another recent study in one of the Scandinavian countries seems to dispute this - catch it early and you halve your chances of dying - but it's not what you need to hear two weeks after the fact. Well, that's yesterday's news. You make your choice, you flip your coin and you go onward, through the fog.
Wednesday. A trip down to Palo Alto with a pair of jockey shorts and a package of Pampers new baby pads in a paper bag. Whoop! The intern clips the tube to the water balloon in the bladder, pulls out the tube - weird feeling, but OK - pull on the jockey shorts, pop a couple of pads into the jockey shorts, receive a short set of instructions on how to do some exercises to build the muscles that will now control the bladder, leave for Palo Alto at eleven, come back home by three including a visit to the post office, the cash machine and a grocery store (more microwave dinners).
I guess I'm OK. No need to jinx myself on the first day, but I have a hunch this is going to go well. I mean it wasn't like turning on a faucet or anything. They said be sure to drink liquids before coming in. I drank liquids before coming in, thinking, ho, ho, what's this about? We'll see how it goes tonight. Learning to sleep without pads is the "first step". I would, you know, like to get through these steps before I have to, say, return to the office. Have we reached information overload? Pads? Puddles in the night?
Tomorrow, breakfast further down the way this time at the usual place, no more hole in the wall bottom of the block nice waitress or not breakfasts. Progress.