Deftness and Alacrity

The nurse gives me the valium and says I can sit or lay down, my choice. Since I’ll need to be laying down for the procedure, I choose efficiency.

The clock on the wall reads 8:30 a.m. The procedure’s set for 9:30. I know my own system. It will not kick in in time.

My prostate-specific antigen levels have been trending slightly north for about a year. The family doc assures me, “85 percent of the guys who reach this point in the process are cancer-free.”

‘This point in the process’ is a prostate biopsy. The retrieving of tissue samples from within the prostate employing a state-of-the-art medical device my family doc lovingly refers to as the “silver stallion.” 

There's a glint in his eye and hes smiling.

Say no more. Please.

At ‘this point in the process,’ I am on my side in a urologist’s clinic, doing my best to maintain dignity, self-respect and a modicum of modesty, waiting desperately for the happy pill to make me happy.

The biggest challenge is logistical. Finding a date when Jackie can accompany me. Because of the valium, they won’t let me drive myself. And since they only fire up the silver stallion on Thursday mornings and Tuesday afternoons, logistics are no small task.

She drops me off, heads across town to give a speech and will swing back to pick me up. I encourage her to work it into her lead.

“Speaking of falling market shares, at this very moment, my husband is across town...”

I’ve been blessed. Broke my arm in 7th grade, tonsils removed in the 8th grade. All my life I have been blissfully, if not disgustingly bullet-proof.

Genuflect when you say that, pardner.

The approach of the precipice brings new system gates of early detection to clear. At 50, my first colonoscopy. While swimming back up to the surface of lucidity (lucidness?) after that one, Jackie said I was singing ABBA songs...  

“Can you hear the drums, Fernando..?”

I’ll spare you the sordid details of the biopsy procedure. 

Well, OK, just one sordid detail. At the apex of the goings-on, the urologist is wielding the
silver stallion with all the deftness and alacrity his professional experience has afforded. It comes equipped with tissue-retrieving needles, inserted one at a time in various and assorted strategic points throughout the walnut-sized prostate structure.

“It’s gonna sound like rubber bands snapping,” I hear his voice behind me.

“Mm-kay,” I grunted weakly.

I lost track after about a half-dozen snaps. The valium was finally washing through me.

The urologist’s nurse puts her hand gently on my shoulder, leans down in my face and whispers, “You wouldn’t do very well in prison.

Tru dat.

I’m in the 85 percent. Cancer-free. The urologist chalks up the elevated PSA levels to some slight inflammations within the prostate. 

I feel no pain as they steer me to the waiting room. Jackie arrives to peel me off the ceiling. When we get home, I apparently make directly for the office. My wife finds me perched upright on the couch/futon, pondering my metaphysical existence and the meaning of life.

“Hey, didjoo notice the walls in here are like... forest green?”