Greater Egret

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Paradigm Shift

"Rob, if it's any consolation, remember that you're not good enough to die young"
Dave Jacobs

After some consideration, and in the interest of full cyber verité and disclosure, I have decided to give you one more update on my medical condition. I promise that it will be the last one for a while.

I will once again start at the beginning and hopefully come around to the present with a quick flourish and ultimate crescendo. I had kidney cancer in 1985 that spread to my ureter and bladder. A doctor then performed a partial nephrectomy where a portion of the offending kidney was removed and several subsequent surgeries were performed on the other familial organs. A stint was put in place initially so that a new kind of experimental flexible scope could be used but it caused my urine to precess and I underwent excruciating pain. Hot baths made it almost bearable. Finally I couldn't stand it, had the stint removed and we went back to a conventional scope. The kidney operation was arduous and grueling and required three months of recuperation until recovery. Many of you were there and remember.

Flash forward 23 years later - a few months ago, I experienced the same extreme hematuria that initially signaled my cancer. A 15mm tumor like abnormality was found in the remaining portion of the kidney. This week the same physician, now a bit grayer and possibly wiser, tried to use the flexible scope, which is now s.o.p. but found the ureter blocked which caused him to have to use the standard steel ureterscope. Although he couldn't get close enough to the the offending area, he managed to snare a small portion of the abnormality. The pathology report came back in one day and showed evidence of the crushed epithelial cells which suggest a transitional cell carcinoma. I reviewed xrays and pictures of the unusual mass.

Yesterday I had the catheter removed. The physician says that he needs to go in one more time with the linguini like scope, through the stent, which he left in to stretch the ureter passage. If he can corroborate his earlier findings, he will remove the balance of the kidney at that point. People function effectively on one kidney and the good news is that the bladder looks fine at this time. If I can get 23 more years on the new setup it will be peachy. The bad news is that I have been a human pincushion for the last three years and I am sick of all the shit. It's not the physical pain, it's the emotional pain and torment of surrendering all control in the hospital. Getting awoken every four hours and the dreaded stingy lovenox shots in the stomach. Pukey salmon and turquoise walls and sweaty sheets.

I barely have enough money to last three months in bed. I have a painful tube in my side which caused me to throw up yesterday after my first urination. I get in a van thursday and drive across country to Miami for three weeks - something totally crazy but necessary to pay my bills and protect our future. I will be living on advil and prayers, which I don't actually sign on to but accept in these exigent times. I will plan on having the operation sometime after the San Francisco show, maybe in early March, if I can stand the stint pain for that long. He pushed it as high up as possible so that the pain would be more in the back region then the bladder and side. Dr. G. said that he has left them in patients for as long as a year so I am obviously a big pussy.

I am sure that getting a play by play on another person's medical condition is outre´ tacky and beg your apologies. But this blog forum seems like the easiest way to get the message out multiply. Better than Mary Worth, no?


NYSTAN said...

Thanks for sharing....seems normal that when someone is ill, they gain relief in conversing about it and I do not mind one bit....just take it slow on the road. Watch those damned gators-they like to chew on paintings when you aren't looking-and they can bite you in the ass when you are on the can.

Anonymous said...

Mary Worth was a lesbian (read it on her blog). Better than Mrs. Buttersworth, who did 3-5 for that romp in the back seat ('He said he was 18!!'). I suggest you send a surogate in shotgun and fly business till they grow more pee-pee replacements in the Billy Goat Gruffs. Ciao, Babe.

Carrie Repking said...

Aah, Robert, please get well.
Hospitals are like nightmares but you are awake and the pain is real.

Blue Heron said...

Speaking of my johnson, did you realize that that was Mary Worth's maiden name? Was an entrance exam question at UCSD... Never could figure out why Mary Worth and Rex Morgan shouted so emphatically all the time. No periods, just exclamation points!

stmichel said...


Sorry you are still going through so much with that kidney, but glad that science has come far enough to make many of these procedures possible and a lot less problematic.

Try and take it easy on the road. Good luck at the shows, I am glad you carry the quality you do so you can still have sales.

Blue Heron said...

thanks a lot, Michael. How long did it take for your kidney surgery to heal?

wave_man said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
wave_man said...


Please just know that I love you and would at least like to believe I would trade places with you if I could. Just take care of yourself, don't drive too far in one step, you will get there. Dave J. is absolutely right, you should live to 93 at least on sheer bitterness.

Love, Johnny

PS - thanks for turning me on to "Ox-Herding" paintings. What an incredible metaphor.