Dawn Reader

Dawn Reader
from Open Door Coffee Co.; Hudson, OH; Oct. 26, 2016

Friday, January 2, 2015

A Day at Seidman Cancer Center

Seidman Cancer Center
2:15 p.m.  I'm home now after a long middle-of-the-day up at the Seidman Cancer Center near Chagrin Falls. I worked on the post below while waiting ...

Prostate cancer—when it’s on the loose (as mine yearns to be)—likes to look for a new home. Bladders are nice; bones are best. So every now and then I find myself lying under a kind of Star Trek machine getting a nuclear bone scan.

It was almost exactly ten years ago when I learned via biopsy that I had the disease. Subsequent surgery (removal of the gland) and a month-long course of radiation failed to do more than delay the progress (what a dark meaning this word can have) of the cancer, so since July 2013 I’ve been getting quarterly injections (in the derrière) of Lupron, a drug that zaps my testosterone, the “fuel” of prostrate cancer. Since that first injection I’ve found a new fondness for herbal teas and talking about my feelings. (Not really—but certain other notable male feelings and capacities have vanished like the dinosaurs--I’m hoping medical researchers soon produce for me a personal version of Jurassic Park.)

Before I began the Lupron treatments, I’d had several nuclear bone scans at the Cleveland Clinic. They all showed the damnedest thing—one rib was illuminated its entire length. That’s the only abnormality they found. I had a pain in that rib, too (one of the ones in the middle of my back, left side), a pain that declared itself only when I leaned back into something hard--like the … rib … of a chair. My Clinic oncologist wasn’t sure it was a sign of metastatic prostate cancer, so he held off on treatment, and no subsequent scan showed any advancement or retreat or any other change.

But then my PSA began to rise again, and I decided to shift treatment to the Seidman Cancer Center at University Hospitals. It was there that I first got my first Lupron needle-in-the-butt to attempt to send my PSA back to zero. Which it did … for the nonce. And the pain in that naughty rib disappeared, too. Hmmmmmm.

But my wonderful UH oncologist—a bright and caring and careful man—thought it would be prudent to have another scan. So that’s what I’ve been doing today. Actually, I’m having two scans today. One is to check bone density. Lupron diminishes/weakens bones, so I take a pretty heavy-duty dose of calcium/vitamin D every day. I had that scan about an hour ago as I type this (it’s a little before noon) in the Starbucks on Chagrin Blvd. about a mile from Seidman.

scanner for bone density
After that scan, I got an injection of a radioactive agent (and, yes, I made a Spider-Man joke while the nurse was looking for a vein; he smiled politely--I’m sure he’s heard Peter Parker allusions myriads of times). I am waiting now in Starbucks for a couple of hours for the agent to pervade my bones so that they will light up properly when I undergo the scan about 1:30. I also have to chug a lot of water to accelerate the process (Ethos!)

I forgot to bring the book I’m reviewing for Kirkus Reviews, and since we’re not allowed to use electronic devices in the waiting rooms, I’m unable to read on my tablet. But Joyce—who did bring her real books—has been able to during her waiting time. But, bookless, I sat in the rooms and wrote (longhand) some doggerel with which to pollute Facebook later this week. Here in Starbucks, though, I can read via the Kindle app on my iPad as well as work on this post. (Oh, you Tech Genius, you!)

The nuclear bone scan takes awhile—half-hour? I forget. But, nerd that I am, I know how to make the time fly: I silently recite some of the poems I’ve memorized. I’ll bet I’m the only nuclear bone-scan guy in the world who’s mumbling “The Cremation of Sam McGee” and “My Last Duchess” while medical technology and fate and fear fill the room with whir. 

scanner for nuclear bone scans
It did take about a half-hour, but I did the third of my poems, the set I do on W-W-F. The technician would not show me the scan (curse his ... bones!), so I'll wait. Like a Good Little Boy--a Good Little Boy who's learned already of wolves and who's heard something nearby, something very like howling.

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