by liberal japonicus
Below the fold, a medical story that may be of interest to:
-men of a certain age (over 50)
-people interested in national health comparisons
-people interested in how Japan may be refracted thru their health care
If you are not interested in hearing details about my health, I encourage you to skip this. Ret's go...
A common notion in describing the prostate is comparing it to a walnut in size. I'm not sure why a walnut was chosen, and the only other thing I remember being compared to a walnut in size was the brain of a dinosaur, though google tells me this was the result of a journalistic mistake. If I were to personify the prostate, I might think that it felt diminished by being compared to a walnut, and take exception.
Which is what my prostate, absent the personification (I think, I'm wondering about all those educational medical films "Bill's Liver", "Sally's Heart". Is there an "LJ's Prostate" out there?), chose to do. However, in another reminder that no man is an island, when the prostate decides that walnut comparisons diminish it, this decision impacts the neighborhood, whose main residents are the bladder and the urethea. This makes urination a random and repetitive activity.
I just watched Paul Sorrentino's movie 'Youth' which has this dialogue between the composer, Fred Ballinger, played by Michael Caine and the film director, Mick Boyle, played by Harvey Keitel:
- Fred Ballinger: Did you take a piss today?
- Mick Boyle: [nods in affirmation] Twice. Four drops. You?
- Fred Ballinger: The same. More or less.
- Mick Boyle: More? Or less?
- Fred Ballinger: Less.
I had seen my urologist and moved to drugs. I had, in my late 40's, a prostate infection which did the same thing, but antibiotics from my US family doctor had me back to normal. This time, I went to a Japanese doctor's office. I wasn't really prepared for the fact that the waiting room was full of old people. In fact, I think a lot of the Japanese medical system is set up to give old people something to occupy their time.
The doctor, used to dealing with older people, had a voice 5 or 10 decibels above normal, which I assume is a result of dealing with the age demographic he does. 'So, you are having trouble peeing' in a voice that I assumed was heard throughout the building.
After some non-invasive tests, and marvelling at the size of my foreign prostate "Kannari ooki", which is Japanese for 'that is as big as a Buick', he gave me some medicine. 'how long will I be taking these pills?' 'oh, forever' was the answer.
So things settled back to quasi-normal. I was helped by the fact that for this condition, Japan is probably the best place in the world to live. Every place has a public bathroom, usually clean and well-lit. Often they have a washlet, one of the greatest inventions of man. The only reason a convenience store wouldn't have a public bathroom is that if, to use it, you'd have to go thru their stock room. While in the US, they might be concerned you would make off with a case of drinks, I feel like in Japan, they don't have a bathroom because they don't want you to see their messy stockroom.
Because of this, things were never too bad. I became the Jason Bourne of toilet location. Enter a building and immediately know where the toliet(s) are and be able to get to them in flash for a slash. But the world is not Japan, and it was getting to the point where I didn't feel I could travel, which was getting me down.
My doctor said that surgery was an option and so was going to have it done in March. I met with the surgeon, who suggested I try an additional drug and give it some more time. This made a lot of sense because the school year starts here in April, and I couldn't imagine dealing with a new cohort after having that surgery two weeks before.
It improved a little, but in the meantime, I had the chance to go to Korea for a year in 2019. Not wanting my go to phrase in Korean to be Hwa-jang-shil o-di-ye-yo (where's the bathroom), I thought that I should get the surgery.
And in preparation for that, an elevated PSA had the doctor recommend a CAT scan. The CAT scan revealed that I had something in my prostate. The surgery was scheduled for the beginning of Sept, but it's not surgery one wants to do with prostate cancer. So, an MRI guided biopsy (because the site was so small, a regular biopsy wouldn't guarantee they got it) was done just to make sure it wasn't cancer.
Whoops, it was. Then CAT and bone scans to make sure it wasn't Stage 2. Which it wasn't, which is very good news. This all took place from the end of August, so it's not really been fun.
I feel like people my age are on the trailing edge of Cancer as Voldemort, the invocation of the name was enough to stop discussion. Yet when you start asking, the number of people who have had, or who know someone close to them with cancer, it's really a lot more common than I thought. I don't know if this is true for others, but getting told I had cancer was a lot like grief, it occupies all your thoughts, making it difficult to move or think, and slowly, you have lengths of time where you don't think about it. As time goes on, those periods become longer and longer.
Anyway, that's part 1. While good wishes and advice are appreciated, I'm in pretty good shape emotionally/mentally at the moment. I'll be writing about the procedures and how things are done in Japan in the next post, maybe next week.