SVD is the title of a YA novel I've written and have been trying to locate for the past three years. So, don't steal it, it's mine. I have been told that my blog posts are tending to be somewhat morose, so I thought I would liven it up a bit by talking about my near-death experiences. What better subject matter to consider as we draw close to the end of yet another calendar year and approach, in spite of the personal protests, yet another one of those godforsaken birthdays that we used to look forward to as children.
To begin with, I'd like to admit that I've always been a bit of a private person. Shy is maybe a better word, but private nonetheless. There are those who would argue with this premise but they're stupid so don't pay attention to them. I am and always have been shy. Except for that one time during my freshman year of college when I accidentally went to the wrong party. I said shy and I mean it.
In March of 2010 I was just as shy as I am now, which explains my frustration when my new urologist asked me to strip and when that was accomplished, asked my permission for two intern-types to observe the examination. I did happen to notice that the intern-types were already in the room and introducing themselves, so I said sure
As for the urologist, I don't care where you're from, I simply want to be able to understand you. Dr. A. is from Romania and I am not entirely convinced that the root of his language is a romance one. I do love this man, though; maybe because I have never been this intimate with a male before, and, perhaps most importantly, he has small knuckles. In any event, his demeanor and decision-making do not always involve the patient, which is how it came to pass that I ended up on his table, in front of an audience, with a camera jammed into my urethra.
I am not talking abut the 35mm variety, or even a camera phone, thankfully, although during the process, it seemed somewhat like one of the old Polaroid cameras as it wended its way to its destination in my bladder. Sick yet? I was. I must say, Dr. A. was quite thorough, and quick, which is the kind of skill you want in a spelunking urologist. It wasn't long before he yanked out the camera and declared, not to me, but to the intern-types, "Jes, we haf a tumor." Sorry, all of the accents of my non primary English speaking characters sound like Arnold Schwarzenneger.
Sad, I thought. I wonder what poor sap he's talking about.
"Ve vill schedool ze surgery for ten dayse."
"Nice ass," said the female intern-type when she left the examining room. Not really, but given the circumstances, I could have used a pronouncement like that.
And this, dear friends, was my introduction to having been diagnosed with a high-grade, fast growing, unfriendly, malignant tumor in March of 2010, approximately 10 days before one of my closest friends died from lung cancer.
Shy, I said.
But not for long.
I've asked several pole dancers this, and they agree that once you start stripping for strangers on a regular basis, you kind of get immune to it. Which is what happened to me. I got so used to it that I was all the way down to my boxers before I realized, or the assistant reminded me that I was, in fact, at the dentist for a teeth cleaning. They were pretty good sports about it, though.
I had surgery. Two of them actually. I have to say I enjoyed them both. There is nothing better at a time like that than total sensory deprivation and back-up drugs. The tumor was removed, and then it seemed like a different type of tumor took its place (hence the second surgery), but this turned out not to be true. The reason it looked that way was because of a little procedure I was undergoing that I like to call Hell On Earth.
Hell On Earth is a procedure that is now administered post surgery for those stricken with bladder cancer, and it is known by the acronym BCG. Which stands for Bacillus Calmette-Guerin, a vaccine developed by a French bacteriologist and a veterinarian. This last person's occupation gave me pause but it is true that sometimes people treat animals better than they do humans so I was all in. Until I found out how this vaccine is administered.
"Not again," I cried to Dr. A. who was already inviting people into the examining room. This time I think it was the practice's accountant and an uncle from Romania without a green card. I assume it is not unlike some of the more forbidden forms of Santeria in that as I lay naked on the cold table, Dr. A. and his assistant were mixing some kind of solution out of my eyesight, using a pre-Columbian volcanic mortar and pestle. Or so it seemed.
Then this happened: Dr. A. threaded, what I thought was, a rather large catheter into my screaming urethra until it hit bottom, and then utilizing a rusty funnel obviously not sterilized in the local autoclave , poured the smoking liquid into the funnel and eventually into my poor aching bladder.
"Now," he says. "You do not use ze bathroom for two hours." This followed by the by now ritualistic ripping of the catheter from my nether parts.
"You've got to practice doing that more sweetly," I say, but he, the accountant and the uncle are already long gone and I am left, naked and shivering, and alone. But I have my orders.
Let me ask a question, and it will be a harsh one: Have you ever pissed razor blades? Sorry for the language, but my God in heaven! That will make a believer out of you. Once a week for six weeks pleading to some as yet unnamed gods to stop the torture of eight, count them, eight hours of ridding the bladder of a tuberculosis virus instilled under shady conditions and unhappy not to be in its natural environment, which I believe is actually the lungs. Ouch! I'll say that again: Holy Mother of God. I begged for leeches or a blood-letting instead.
2010 couldn't get any worse, I thought. Please don't make it any worse. I'll strip professionally if I have to. I'll invite the Mormon Tabernacle Choir into the examining room. Just don't make it any worse than the razor blades. And then, in the middle of this six weeks of karmic payback, my poor sweet sister died for no good reason.
To be continued...