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"That I should live so long!"

sign for handicapped parking 2/22/03

I have developed a strange sense of humor about my disease, but I'll get to that in a moment.

I saw my oncologist Thursday. Caren came with me. ("This is our first time here as man and wife," she said with a smile.) She took notes and sometimes asked a question.

The damned VA lab (I suppose to cut costs) stopped the PSA count at 1000 again, so we don't have a new Base PSA and will have to go with the 1731 but we still talked about my starting chemo.

Last time around, he was recommending Taxotere and estramustine but I had sent him some printouts of studies showing that Taxotere and calcitriol were showing better promise. To his credit, he had looked up the studies and said that while they were small, they were promising enough that he agreed we should try it, rather than the estramustine.

That's what I like about him. I feel we really work well as a team.

I told him about the calcitriol because after I looked up estramustine (trade name is Emcyt), I really didn't like the primary side effect, the nausea. Calcitriol is a form of vitamin D that keeps the calcium from dropping too low. I don't know how it was integrated into chemo, but it was and it was proving to help the Taxotere better than estramustine. The only danger, he said, was hypercalcemia.

I turned to Caren and said with a smile, "It's in the Phoenix5 glossary. Too much calcium in the blood It can put a burden on the kidneys and if it goes too high, it can prove fatal." (I felt like adding, compared to prostate cancer?)

That meant, he went on, that I would have to curtail other calcium intakes like milk, cheese, etc. Fair enough.

The other downside, he said, was the dosage. The VA calcitriol pills are such low dosage that I would have to take a couple dozen, a "meal in itself," he said with a smile. Fair enough.

I'll also have to go back on a steroid, he said. Fair enough #3.

Okay, he said, I'll order the medication and we start next week.

I also told him about the increasing pelvic and leg pain and he switched me from Tylenol III to their generic form of Percocet, so I'll see how that goes.

The last item of business was my mobility. Walking has become extremely difficult (due to tumor pressure on the nerves) and Caren suggested a handicap sticker that would allow me to park closer, so I didn't have to walk as far. Rather than being resistive to the idea (I had overcome my macho pride when I learned the value of the walker), I was intrigued and asked him. He already knew how bad it was getting so he wrote me a prescription and said I just have to take it to the local BMV (Bureau of Motor Vehicles.)

And here comes my odd sense of humor.

After we left the VA, we dropped by the local BMV. I presented my little prescription, a form that I had signed and $3.25 and the girl gave me one of those blue handicap signs that one hangs over the rear view mirror, along with a form to sign. As she did, she said, "It expires in 2008."

I began to laugh and turned to Caren (who now shares my sense of humor and was also laughing) and then I looked back at the girl.

"I'm sorry for laughing," I said, "but I have terminal cancer and when you said it expires in 2008, the usually-common phrase 'That I should live so long' ran through my head. I just have a strange sense of humor." She smiled back and replied, "You'd be surprised how many others say the same thing."

"Really?" I asked in actual disbelief.

She nodded.

And that made my day, to merely know that others have kept their sense of humor too.

As we got back into the van, I ceremoniously hung the blue sign from the rear view mirror. "I am now officially handicapped," I said with a laugh.

It felt good to know that I was not the only one with this sense of humor.


Referenced material:
My last PSA at My New PSA: I'll drink to that
Getting my walker at "An unscheduled trip to self-image land"

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This information is provided for educational purposes only and does not replace or amend professional medical advice. Unless otherwise stated and credited, the content of Phoenix5 (P5) is by and the opinion of and copyright © 2000 Robert Vaughn Young. All Rights Reserved. P5 is at <>. P5's policy regarding privacy and right to reprint are at <>.