Chip’s Care, Cancer, Catheter, and Covid.
Poop and pop, those are my post-surgery marching orders for the first week after my surgery. All my organs in my prostate zip code are going through some serious “shock and awe” drills which means I careen from constipation to having a very messy sleep - and I thought I was just passing gas all night.
Nope, I passed a lot more than gas. Now, I know why they call this a radical prostatectomy. I should have my biopsy results (especially important regarding my lymphs) in the next few days - which will define my next regimen of care.
And, of course, I’m popping dozens of pills at various times throughout the day and in the middle of the night. This one is for the excruciating gas, this one is for my calcium-deficiency due to the hormone depletion therapy, this one is for the pain associated with the six incisions in my abdomen necessary for surgery, and, no, Chip, you are not allowed to have that little blue pill they give prostate amputees as you still have a catheter!
I count 47 pills daily which, ironically, is the average number of hours an American retiree watches television per week. Maybe the pills lead to my “Netflix and Chill” attitude. In just a week’s time, I’ve binge-watched five full mini-series and nearly a dozen movies (and I’ve read two books). Yes, I’ve always been ambitious even as a couch potato! I’m an even bigger Kate Winslet fan after Mare of Easttown.
This weekend, I had the novel idea of spending one day exclusively focused on films that might help me understand the appeal of Donald Trump. I figured, “what the hell?!” I want to be curious about how he holds such sway with a large segment of Americans even after his endless indictments. After watching “Trump Card,” “The Plot Against the President,” and the “Shiny, Happy People” series, I still didn’t get it. Unconvinced, I checked off a Bucket List item, watching the whole 3 hour, 30 minute Netflix saga, “The Irishman,” knowing “the Donald” is a huge fan of mafia movies. Who knew I’d have to have my prostate taken out to finally watch that great film?
Catching Covid around the time of my surgery hasn’t made this any easier as I’ve needed to be in quarantine while recovering. Oren has dutifully masked-up and taken care of me for the first week in our tiny one-bedroom San Francisco condo, but - when I’ve had the energy - I’ve also gone for the occasional 1,000-step stroll (more like a saunter or a stumble) with my catheter bag hanging in the ‘hood. “Daddy, who’s that man with the mask and the yellow bag he’s carrying?” The good news is people smile and give me space in that “sorry, you’re dealing with this, old man” kind of way.
I appreciate all of the love and support coming my way (as well as the matzo ball soup and chocolate chip cookies). I’ve captured a glimpse into my future as a “frailer,” someone more elderly than elder, more dependent than independent. I can’t say I've loved feeling 90 this past week, but the good news is that I’m getting better and feeling younger with each passing day. And, I’ve definitely been using some of our key MEA core curriculum principles and practices from how to process a transition to how to remind myself what gets better with age.
A couple years ago, I cited our MEA friend and alum Richard Rohr in a blog, “We could all use a humiliation a day, hopefully mild, to remind us of our humanity and our frailty.” Geez, Richard, I've stored up a year’s supply of humiliations in the past week…and I’m still smiling because after every other one of our senses degenerates over time, our sense of humor might be our long-lasting sense. Tomorrow’s blog post will focus on why laughter is good medicine…except when you have deep incisions in your abdomen. Oy vey, a belly laugh feels like a belly flop.