Tuesday, March 29, 2016

What is 'cancer free'?

It's been 6 years since they removed my bladder; and all the cancer it contained.  Since then there has been no sign of it returning. I am 'Cancer Free' and counting.  Right?

Over the Christmas holidays I noticed a small sore on my chest. I put some Bacitracin on it but it didn't clear up.

In January my doctor prescribed some stronger antibiotic cream. It didn't clear up after a couple weeks so she referred me to a dermatologist. It took me 3 weeks to get an appointment (they must be backed up).

The dermatologist said that it looked like a Basal Cell Carcinoma. She told me not to freak out because this is a very treatable form of cancer. She 'pealed' off the sore, along with some surrounding skin for a biopsy. She said that she'd call me in a few days with the results and sent me home.

No surprise; the biopsy came back positive and I am scheduled for outpatient surgery in mid April.

I know a ton of people who have had this, and it hasn't been a problem for them, but somewhere in the dusty matrix of my mind there is a small, shaky voice whispering a tune that I recognize (I've heard whole choruses sing it in the past.) This voice is so tiny that it is easily drown out by the rest of my life. But when it gets very dark and quiet in the middle of the night, I can sense - more than hear it - on the very edge of my consciousness saying; "You're no longer cancer free?"

Friday, March 18, 2016

Pride precedeth the fall (?)

My doctor retired recently. We've been together a long time. Change is hard.

My first visit with my new doctor came as a follow-up to a late night trip to the Emergency Room.  My head had been hurting for a few days and that night it became 'unbearable'. Of course I was worried about a tumor, or an aneurysm (you know, something that people have on Facebook.)  After they scanned my head and took some tests the only thing they found was that my blood pressure was like 200-something over 100-something. I was stunned at this. It's been pushing the limits lately but never anything close to this.

I've always prided myself in not needing any pills to keep me going. Many years ago, when my BP crept up, I changed my diet, quit drinking, began riding bike and lost a bunch of weight. Problem solved. But not this time.

The ER doctor injected some beta-blocker and told me to see my doctor ASAP. This could be a sign that my kidney (remaining good one) is having troubles. It's a cyclic thing: kidneys help control the blood pressure and high blood pressure can damage the kidneys. I made an appointment and saw my doctor the next day.  ]

Now we have started the process of selecting the correct BP treatment. There are two classes of BP meds. Each contains a wide variety to choose from. One class targets the kidney's control system. The other uses the heart's. Since we don't want to mess with the kidney, we will choose the heart.

My wife asked; "Well, what about the headaches? What did she say about those?" I passed the scan and all the neurological tests so it's most likely tension. Yeah, I've heard that before and I know the drill. It's another of those cyclic things but now that I know what it's NOT, I can relax a little. I know it works. And now that spring is here I can start riding bike again. This helps everything. 

I've only seen my new doctor twice and both times she has asked if I was seeing a kidney specialist (Nephrologist). I have said 'no' and she's let it go. My annual physical is coming up and I will pursue this.