Another holiday. Gorgeous, but sarcastic, wife has her parents over from the UK to visit. For the purposes of inter family relations, I will not allocate a name to them. Although, a few do spring to mind. We all went to the beach. Despite the chance of me actually dying whilst having the operation being listed as around 1-20 in 1000 or 0.1 to 2% depending on where you look for the information, I decided to err on the side of caution and live each day as my last. This has been a most invigorating time. I have begun to enjoy a cocktail around 4pm. Yesterday it was an espresso martini. I have started having a muffin with my mid-morning coffee, the melted white chocolate and raspberry being my favourite, and instead of the normal choices on the menu, I have found myself going for the asian beef salad, or the twice cooked chicken. It has opened previously unopened doors. Yesterday, my dog and I managed to scrounge free food, and strokes from attractive women, from three different bars using a mix of charm, doggy good looks, and sheer sex appeal, whilst wifey looked after the kids on the beach. The dog got the lions share. Well, if I’m honest, all the strokes, and all the food actually, despite me making puppy dog eyes at the attractive ladies. Maybe I should have told them I have cancer…. anyway, the dog at your feet, sun beginning to set over the coral sea, and happy hour. Bliss.
Time ticks on. I arrived home, from the mini break, with the intention of purchasing a smoking jacket to use as my hospital attire, ready to tour the charity shops for the particular number. Unfortunately, I was met by a little stack of mail upon my return. I have to have a CT scan. I knew this. It is at 15.45 on Thursday. I now have to have a whole body bone scan + SPECT+LDCT on Friday at 10.00. The second could take 6 hours. More joy. They inject you with some more radioactive stuff, scan you, and then you have to come back in 2 to 5 hours and they do it again. The idea being that they can suss out if there is any increased activity that may indicate cancer growing in a different spot. Metastases. Spread. Harder to treat. No point taking your prostate out if it’s already elsewhere in your body. Shutting the door after the horse has bolted.
Again, I tell you all this to illustrate the operational difficulties for cancer sufferers. Imagine if you had a full time job, or a business to run. I am very lucky to be able to work part-time. Some of that is because we have basic tastes, we don’t need two new cars, we don’t need designer clothes, we value time together more than time at work. I love my time with my family, and love my time with my wife. That is my driver. It doesn’t have to be what some might see as quality time. Everyone lounging around the house, on a wet day, doing nothing in particular, but all together. Dog walks on the beach with gorgeous, but sarcastic wife, and cheap Mexican meals, cheap Indian meals, happy hour cocktails. Wine from a box, not a bottle. Simple pleasures. Trying to be as nice a person as I can, at home and work. That is made easier by my employer letting me work part-time without affecting my career. My career being driven by trying to help a few people, whilst trying to enjoy the rewards from doing so. Still not really knowing what I want to do when I grow up! Priorities changed when mum and dad passed. Different drivers take over. Actually attend my daughters academic award ceremony rather than drop her off at it in a shiny BMW, on my way to a meeting. How could you attend all day appointments, that come with a few days notice, if you were full-time with a more hard faced boss? Just the same as how can I possibly acquire an authentic 1960’s smoking jacket to wow the nurses when I have to spend all my days off at the hospital? I was looking for this kind of style….
Twelve days to go, two long days at work, two appointments at the hospital, that should leave me time to acquire my item. And I’m sure the charity shops of Brisbane must have one somewhere.
If I’m honest, I actually have another appointment at Super Hospital. This one could be the one you’ve all been waiting for…A two hour group information session, in which the following will be covered.
- How to prepare for the operation.
- What to expect in hospital.
- When you go home.
- Ongoing care/surveillance.
The group is comprised of similarly afflicted sufferers and their spouse/partner. We all sit in a room where an expert will regale us with tales of the hard lessons learnt by the previous recipients of the beneficent automations’ magic, with the intention of improving our own outcomes.
Section 1 kicks us off. A slow start. Getting fit for my operation, diet and weight loss, pelvic floor exercises and effect on erectile function. Given that my session is less than one week before my operation, I feel pretty safe saying I think that ship has sailed. My improved diet of spicy asian salad with thrice cooked chicken and cocktails prior to my evening wine, has ensured that my weight, is in fact, increasing, rather than decreasing, and the chance of me hitting marathon standard in seven days is slimmer than the odds on Trump ditching Stormy Daniels and marrying Germaine Greer. I’m fairly proud of my pelvic floor, although, on reflection, I would have to say that I’m prouder of the laminate floor that I laid in my open plan living, dining, kitchen, hall area last month. I’m not sure I need any re-iteration of the effect on erectile function, having not been able to think of anything else for the last two months.
Section 2 begins to ramp up the content mildly. Catheter care, pain management and bowel management. As a nurse, I can relate to this, and it all seems reasonable. Not too sure how reasonable it will feel when I’m sat in a room with the other victims and their significant others, and we all have a jolly old chat about what our shitting strategies are, and what targets we are intending to meet when in hospital. Presumably, one would need to record a baseline, otherwise how would one know what is acceptable, and more to the point, what is the punishment if you are unable to curl one out when Matron sends you down the hall. (Note to self, get wifey to bring in a couple of espresso Martinis, and maybe a cigar, to keep things moving.) Maybe they will discuss menu choices and even let me see an advanced copy of the specials and wine list. I know the importance of diet in regards to healing. I went on a course once.
Section 3 informs us of the same things as section 2, but in regards to when at home afterwards, but includes exercise. Exercise indeed. Hmm, maybe I will try and fit a game of badminton whilst holding my piss bag in the other hand, or perhaps join a local dance troupe,, and knock out a catheter calypso. I think the most likely exercise outcome is a shuffle to the larder to pick up more crisps, in between getting shot to pieces by a Ukrainian twelve year old on Call of Duty and watching Netflix. My plan is to watch Netflix stuff, to keep me entertained. Nothing too racy, I don’t want to wallow in my own sorrow more than I need to, but I can actually binge on the stuff I want to watch, rather than the tripe that darling daughter and wifey serve up. I will, once again, be master of my own tv remote, able to spend hours flicking through the on screen catalogue, but never quite actually getting around to watching anything. Sounds perfect.
Section 4. Ongoing care and surveillance. I have to admit, this is the area I know least about. I will be a refreshing change to be a normal person. No prior medical knowledge lurking in the dark, gloomy corner of the mind, distorting the truth to include outcomes that you know could happen, but they don’t tell you might happen. Sure they will say
“you might get an infection”,
but the nursey sense tingles and this infection becomes necrotising fasciitis, resulting in your leg residing in a different room to the rest of you, and your organs progressively cooking in a sludge of bacteria shit and dead parts of you. Or they say
“We have to use a different catheter”
In my mind pictures emerge of a hose pipe poking out my belly button, draining into a bucket on the living room floor, beside which is stacked a half empty bottle of Johnny Walker, and a three quarters of a big toe, being licked by a kitten, because that’s what I saw once when I was a student community nurse.
The final part of section 4. Continence and erectile function. There are no words…. I’m eager, itching even, to learn of my stablemates in this venture. Am I to be accompanied by guys similar to me? Maybe I will have an insight into the Octogenarian dogging scene of Australia, or perhaps learn tips of how to get a bloke up and at it from a pensionable Madam. Viagra, Cialis, penile injections, cock pumps, different ways to make love. Different ways to make love? WTF does that mean? Even my famously puerile mind swims, or at least doggy paddles, deep in these erotic thoughts. Wifey is not coming to this session. She will take time off next week for the op, so I’m alone. I’m not sure she will believe me when I arrive home and announce the expectation of a nightly floppy gobble in the name of rehabilitation.
I will fill you in at the weekend.