As Time Goes By

There are things to really hate about getting old. Of course. What an obvious statement. What a mundane opening sentence. There are things almost too numerous to count to hate about being old. Let’s start with the tendency for old men to talk about their health.

I suppose we can be forgiven. We don’t have much else to talk about. Okay, there’s lots else to talk about, but our health becomes a preoccupation that looms over everything. Our health is the limiting factor on everything else. Our health is an indication that it’s all coming to an end. Whether we like it our not, our health creeps to the front of our mind and escapes through our mouth as a topic of conversation. I don’t have the self discipline to avoid that.

The arthritis in my right thumb has been getting so bad that I’ve all but given up the violin. For a while I thought it would allow me to at least play the piano, and for a while it did. But now, somehow, shooting pains make it hard to do a sensitive interpretation of my Scott Joplin pieces. So just as I start to get them back to performance level, I can’t stand to play them.

Can I curse now. Would that be justified? Excusable? Fuck it. I mean FUCK IT. This does not make me happy.

As part of my cancer treatment, I’ve been taking a testosterone blocker, brand name Erleada (for some reason. Did some marketing guy think that was a better, less confusing name, than it’s generic name?) actual name Apalutamide. This business of giving a drug a brand name, Tylenol instead of Ibuprofen for example, really annoys the hell out of me. It seems to mean they can charge twice as much for the drug because the buyer doesn’t know what it is. But that’s a rant for another day. I take four horse pill sized tablets of Apalutamide at lunch every day. Apalutamide is a testosterone blocker. I’ve been given injections to stop my production of testosterone. The Apalutamide is to mop up any molecules of the hormone that escaped that treatment. It’s very new. It hasn’t yet been approved to be paid for by the B.C. medical services, and it costs, so I’m told, four thousand dollars per month. The company seeking approval for it is giving it to me for free for “compassionate reasons.” Sweet of them. No really. I appreciated it.

Talking to my oncologist a month or so ago, I asked if my worsening arthritis could be a side effect of the reduced testosterone. He suggested I stop for a while and see what happens. So on December 04 I quit it cold turkey.

I was hoping for two things. I was hoping my PSA level would not go up, and I was hoping my arthritis pain would be eased. The latter may have happened but not to any significant extent. Then came my January 4 blood test….

On August 7, my blood test showed a PSA level of 0.12 On January 4 my PSA level was 0.13

Okay. That’s up. Not much. Probably not as much as the margin of error of the blood test. But it’s up. PSA stands for Prostate Specific Antigen. It’s a measure of cancer activity. Up is not good.

Call me a coward, but I’m back on the Apalutamide. I’d rather have arthritis pain and be unable to play the violin than die quicker than I want to. And believe me, I don’t want to.

One thing about metastasized cancer, it has turned me into a hypochondriac. Every little pain is now a warning of things getting worse. I can’t cross my right leg on to my left knee, and must use a devise to put my right sock on my foot. I have pain in both groins. For the past few weeks I’ve had an incredibly stiff neck. How much of the pain is coming from the cancer? How much is coming from the arthritis? How much just goes along with old age? There’s no way to know.

How long do I have? Again, there’s no way to know. I’m hoping for at least one more hunting season. Two or three would be nice. But I don’t know.

I’m truly grateful for the attention from Dr. Olivier, Dr. Pai, Dr. Atwell, Dr. Marback, and most especially Dr. King. Oh, and of course Dr. Fuganaga who is the first half of the assessment team signing me up for Medical Assistance in Dying. I’m more than grateful for my supportive wife who keeps assuring me I’m worth the $3k investment to buy me an implant to replace my missing front tooth. If I were a car with my mileage, needing repairs of that cost, I’d just run the beater into the nearest crusher. But Ruth says I’m not a car. So she’ll put up the bulk of the money to make me look good.

My hockey player look.

My son, Victor, insists that I’m depressed. I have argued with him about it, but am coming to the conclusion that he’s right. I keep looking for a reason to get up in the morning. This morning I couldn’t find one.

But if this is all the time I’ve got left, do I really want to piss it away being mopey? I am looking for the joy. I am looking hard.

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