What I did this summer

I wonder why they call it a “positive” diagnosis when it’s actually anything but?

Okay, to keep things in perspective here: prostate cancer isn’t unusual in men over 70. Also, it’s relatively easy to treat, with minimal side effects these days, and he probably won’t die of it. In other words, not such a big deal, right? Sure. Take a deep breath. Right.

Oh … bollocks.

What - you speak American, and you don't understand the word
What – you speak American, so you don’t know what “bollocks” are? Don’t worry about it. Here’s a picture of a famous statue for you to look at instead. (Source)

The truth is, the past few months have been downright scary. And difficult. And sad. And really scary (did I already say that?)

it started sometime this past summer, when I casually asked Himself a question relating to some or other health matter, and got the growl that is the standard response around here to any question for which he does not have an answer. A few days later his ankle swelled up to the size of a football – and I’m not talking about a squishy little Deflategate football, either. So I unleashed my Inner Pitbull and chased him clear across town to his doctor …

On guard. (Source)

… where I learned that what he actually needed was for Pitbull Wife to be standing alongside him, barking questions, listening with pricked ears, and standing guard with an I-will-bite-you gleam in her eye. Because, as it turns out, while I haven’t been paying a whole lot of attention to his bodily well-being, neither has he. And although over the years he’s built up an impressive stable of specialists to take care of a range of anatomical bits and pieces, apparently they don’t talk to each other, and in consequence various other body parts had been overlooked.

So that’s what I did last summer. I chivvied my guy from surgeon to specialist to internist, with several detours past his primary care physician and frequent pit stops for tests of one sort and another. And it’s been tiring and challenging and, as previously stated, sometimes sad and scary – because this is my guy, you understand, the only one I’ve ever had and, as it happens, the only one I want.

Back about 17 years ago, at some point between “Yes, I will” and “I do”, he said, “We have to talk.” I giggled and poked him in the ribs and said, “Gee, that sounds serious!” (because that’s the stage we were at – lots of giggling and poking). And he made me quiet down and sit still and listen to a lot of words about how he was 14 years older than me, and his family tended not to be as long-lived as mine, and he was going to get old and then kick the bucket and I would be a widow. Although I really didn’t want to hear it he made sure I did, and so over the years I’ve periodically pondered my impending widowhood, and even made jokes about it, ha ha, because that’s what I do when something isn’t funny but won’t go away. (I won’t deny that, during the course of 17 years, there may have been one or two occasions when I’ve contemplated speeding the process along.)

And now here we are. A summer of doctors, just figuring things out and developing a plan to manage a variety of not-deadly-but-no-longer-ignorable issues. And then, a week ago, like the cherry on a teetering healthcare sundae, a cancer diagnosis. On a seriousness scale of one to ten, it rates about midway between let’s-keep-an-eye-on-this and oh-shit. Yesterday morning, they shot him full of isotopes to make his bones glow. Next week he gets to drink a barium milkshake to make his organs glow. In about a month he’ll start daily treatments. In the meantime, for comic relief, we’ve had lengthy chats about erections with two separate specialists, although when last Friday’s specialist slipped on a rubber glove and prepared to probe more deeply into the subject, I scurried off to the waiting room and worked on a jigsaw puzzle they’ve set up in there.

It’s a tricksy puzzle of a couple thousand pieces, which is good, I guess. Apparently I’ll be spending quite a lot of time with it in the months ahead, while the doctors fire death rays at the sneaking attacker within him.

Author: Belladonna Took

Well into my second half-century and still trying to figure out what to be when I grow up. Born South African, naturalized American, perpetually at risk of losing my balance and landing ass-first in the Atlantic.

32 thoughts on “What I did this summer”

  1. Oh is my heart with you.

    “primary care physician” – you would think such a person would gather the strings together, wouldn’t you?

    I read somewhere that men are much better at understanding the apparent inscrutability of men than women are at reading men, but that women think they are better at it than men are. That may be true and I love repeating it to my wife. That said, I am absolutely sure that being taken in hand by a no-nonsense woman is what every man wants.

    Lastly, (because it didn’t seem right given the subject matter to put it first) – beautifully written.


    1. Thank you, David! I appreciate the compliment, and that you took the time to comment!
      And yes, keeping track is definitely part of his primary care physician’s role, and in fact during our first joint appointment he was somewhat on the defensive about that. In fairness to him, if the various specialists don’t willingly share information, it’s not the best use of his time to be chasing after them. So now that’s part of what I do – at every appointment, I ask them to forward the information, and periodically I check back to make sure it’s happening.
      At first I expected Himself not to be pleased about my involvement, but it turns out he finds it helpful. He’s awfully deaf, you see, so having a spare pair of ears along makes it a lot easier. Also, when you’re the person whose body is misbehaving, you’re not necessarily in the best state to ask questions.


    1. Thank you, my friend. We both appreciate that. And I am confident it’s going to be fine. It’s just that we seem to be entering a new Life Phase … and that always brings some anxiety and sadness, I think.


  2. On this side we are on the opposite side of the see saw. I am off Wednesday to speak to a gastroenterologist re my inward workings. My other half is the one waiting anxiously.


  3. Good luck doesn’t feel appropriate here, so instead I’m going to say Sterkte. I know someone who has slain this particular dragon only this year, so I know there is hope. And as long as that sense of humour of yours remain intact, the two of you are halfway to beating this already. Nogmaals, sterkte.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Oh dear. A dear friend, roughly my age, was diagnosed with prostate cancer just before his 50th birthday and went through all the procedures you’re describing. He’s flourishing now – actually, they visited us not so long ago and featured on my blog. That said, this is a hard journey, so will be thinking of you both. And as for “that” conversation – it’s one we’ve had – with a 17-year age difference and a mixed genetic bag when it comes to the Big C and longevity. We’ve had a couple of scares, but 13 years married and 15 years later, we’re soldiering on. I feel for you.


    1. Thanks for the encouragement, Fiona – I truly appreciate it! Ja … “that” conversation … You have to have been there to know! I have to warn you, the big shock happens on the anniversary when you realize you are now as old as he was when you married. That is a yikes moment!


      1. I have four years to go on that one. Hmm, food for thought. Bless The Husband, he still tells people that I’m his “young chick”. Best to you and Mr Took


          1. Hate to correct your Afrikaans grammer, but it’s “Ag…. Hier is ‘n soentjie vir jy”


  5. Bollocks indeed. I am so sorry, and can only imagine how difficult and stressful this time is for you both. Sending boatloads of compassion your way.


  6. I’m so sorry to hear this news, you two are so often in my thoughts, and will be in my prayers as well. He has the best healthcare advocate in the world and I have no doubt he feels blessed for that….xo.


  7. People will say, oh at least it is treatable, but it is still cancer – terrifying, exhausting, and painful to treat. Sending well wishes to you both and my hope for a speedy recovery.


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