Coping with the emotional, relational, sexual and spiritual aspects of prostate cancer.
Saturday, July 8, 2017
How a Relaxing Way to Wait for PSA Results Failed
Six years post-surgery, I wanted to wait for the test results of my ultra sensitive PSA test differently. Rather than waiting at home with anxious expectations, months prior to my scheduled test, I asked my wife if she’d like to go for a romantic vacation. I was overjoyed when she said yes. We flew to Cocoa Beach in Florida.
After a few days, my wife and I came down with serious cases of bronchitis. Both of us went to an urgent care center together. We received medication, and we thought that was the end of that.
Within the next 24 hours, I was coughing so hard I felt a painful and agonizing pull or rip. The pain didn’t go away. I felt as though someone stuck a knife in my ribcage when I’d cough, sneeze, or take a normal breath. A foot-long black-and-blue mark appeared on my left side. A few days later, I felt the same thing occur on my right side. Once again, a foot-long black-and-blue area appeared on my right side.
During the 19 days we spent in Florida, I went to an urgent care center four times and to an emergency room six times. Most of those visits involved the same issues: stabbing pain in my side and my inability to breathe normally. It was truly frightening to be painfully gasping to breathe, unable to take in the necessary oxygen I needed.
I took my wife to Florida so we could relax, have fun, enjoy our time together, be romantic, take long walks on the beach, and totally forget we were waiting for my PSA results. Once my breathing issues began, trips to the ER and then to a pharmacy dominated most of our time. I think the only goal I met during our vacation was forgetting about my PSA test results. We had more immediate and pressing medical issues to deal with.
As I boarded the plane to return home, I came to the sad conclusion that we spent more money on our healthcare than we did on the entire vacation in Florida. I decided that the first time you spend more money on healthcare than on your vacation, you’ve entered what I call “Senior Citizen Zone.” It’s not a destination you want to reach.
As we traveled home, I didn’t know I’d be heading to an ER one more time. A nurse in CA received permission to inject me with a medication that was the first effective treatment to bring me to a place of healing rather than temporary symptom relief.
When I finally met with my primary physician for follow-up and treatment. I asked for my PSA test results. – It was 007. We breathed a collective sigh of relief. For the rest of the day I preferred my drinks “Shaken not stired” because I was 007.
Sometimes with the best intentions, life goes awry. At a time when I was looking to get away from the reality that our good health is a fragile state of affairs, I was reminded not once, but 11 times that we can lose our status of good health in an instant.
Next week, my wife and I have an opportunity for a re-do. We are taking our RV and heading to Yellowstone to camp with our eldest son and our daughter-in-law. We leave grateful to know my PSA is undetectable. I hope we can stay as far away as possible from the “Senior Citizen Zone” on this getaway.