This week I completed the 3rd installment of 6 total treatments. Yeah baby, I'm halfway done with this harrowing experience!
So, has it really been that bad? I suppose once it's put into perspective, no, it's hasn't been as bad as I had anticipated. Here's a synopsis of how my weeks go.
Treatment day; it starts out like any other day, I go to work in the morning, but because my appointment is in the afternoon, I'll get off work early. BONUS! I like to have a shortened work day. Eight hours is too much work for a semi-retired old guy like me.
Now, no offense to my doctor or his staff, but I want to get out off there as quickly as possible. I admit, they are very efficient about administering the treatment. Arrive, pee in a cup, dispense the numbing gel, insert catheter, inject the BCG, clean up and I'm out of there. It really doesn't take long at all and while the procedure will never be described as pleasant, I'm getting used to it.
Once I arrive home, I do my best impression of a succulent pig on a rotisserie, without the apple in my mouth of course, though I believe Sue would like to stick it in there sometimes! I'm delicately turned every 15 minutes to allow the BCG juices to fully baste the inside of my bladder. It's important to hold it in for 2 hours and I've come very close each week, even surpassing the time limit last week. Okay, here's the fun part; next I get to pee.
Now it wouldn't be a fun blog to read if I didn't give you a little story that goes along with peeing. You know, one that makes you laugh, or maybe one that makes you think "ooh, gross!" The first time I pee after the treatment is a little strange. I'm advised to sit on the toilet, and no, I haven't been given female hormones, it is for sanitary reasons (less splashing.) After I've emptied my bladder, a rush of air comes out. Yeah, that's right, it's like I'm farting out, well, the other end! This freaked me out the first week, but it's happened just like that each week.
Thursday and Friday
Generally, I get up Thursday morning and feel great. So far, I haven't had any of the side effects they describe. I do, however, experience what I call direct effects. As the day wears on, I begin to feel more pain while urinating and the urge to go when my bladder is near empty. This seems to continue for a day or two and is directly related to the trauma of having the catheter inserted week after week. I'm learning how to control the pain somewhat with drugs and hydration. The more liquid I drink, the smoother the peeing goes. But it's a Catch 22, the more I drink, the more often I go, which is sometimes difficult when driving on the road all day long. In the evening, beer has become a staple of my diet, doing it's job to keep things flowing as well. Hooray for beer!
Saturday thru Tuesday
By the weekend, things are getting better and I am starting to feel somewhat normal. My biggest frustration is still trying to get back into a running routine, but it hasn't worked well yet. Some days I feel good and run a few miles, other days I either feel those annoying 'gotta go' urges or I just don't have the energy. I haven't been able to do more than 5 miles or a couple days a week. I know it's just a matter of time, but I'm sure looking forward to the end of the treatments and complete the healing.
This week I was given some great news from the doctor. The initial BCG cancer treatment, the 6-week course, is sometimes followed by what's referred to as a 'maintenance program', where an additional 5 treatments are given over the next 24 months. I was told that I will not have to undergo this part of the program. Did you detect the smile on my face after this news? I will only need to go in for a routine check up every 3 months for awhile, then cutting back to every 6 months, to eventually once a year. Hmm.....eventually I will be normal again?