Distant family doctor

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This is tremendous

Drinking Tips for Teens

“Unfortunately, due to family and personal reasons, I must close my clinic at the end of August 2018. I will be moving my medical practice to Abitibi, specifically the emergency room in the hospital at Rouyn-Noranda. … I will remain responsible for your medical dossier in the coming years.”

– Letter from my family doctor

Dear Doctor,

How are you? I am fine. At least I think I am. Really, I can’t know for sure since you, my family doctor, are now 800 km away. Let’s just ignore the phantom tingling and assume I am fine.

It has been two years since my last checkup with you. Actually, that was my only checkup with you. I was on a waiting list for a family doctor for about seven years before that. About halfway through that waiting period, someone from the Health Department called to check my status. My wife took…

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His & Her Perspective

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First of all, I hate the way you talk to me but I fucking can’t stand when you’re ignoring me. It’s like every day you want to go to war with me. You’re crying over spilt milk and trying to wipe the floor with me. Every time I ring you your phone was in your bag but every time I’m with you your phone is in your hand. Yeah I get annoyed and you’ll say I’m paranoid and I’ll send another message like I’ll never phone you back. And why would you say cool to that if you ain’t cool with that?

You make me feel like it was all a plan. Like there’s a man up in your yard and you’re waiting for the chance to let a couple hours pass just to call me back. And you don’t never sound the same when you’re in the wrong. Kinda sound like you’re staring down your intercom. Just waiting for him to leave,said you’d tell me if you did cheat and I’m breaking what we could be so I’m guessing its make believe.

Still I don’t believe you but I’ll run with it,cause I’m out here keeping up some fuckery. And just because I beat doesn’t mean that you can beat because two fucks don’t make a right and it could never tarnish me. Sometimes I wonder if I’ve ever rocked your world. You care about your lashes and your girls. The one you’re always chatting but she always does your nails. Talking about fashion; “it’s gotta be YSL”. Even though I think the dress couldn’t be shorter kinda makes me wonder, how the fuck were you brought up?! Hearing the conversation about your love for the altar still, I never listen cause I’ve done it with all of you. At the end of the month I always give you money At the end of the night I always give you loving. Had to state a few things and you don’t have to change nothing. It’s just my point of view, I wouldn’t tell you if it wasn’t.

I don’t think that you respect me, I kinda think that you expect me to be here waiting for you cause it’s easier. Cause we’ve got a child together, went the extra mile together. But still, there ain’t a picture where we ever smile together. How many times do I have to say,how many times? I’m getting sick and tired and I’m tired and I’m crying my eyes out, I don’t know why….You’ve got the cheek to come and dry my eyes. Avoiding me doesn’t Jack now, the toilet seat can go back down and you too can do the same. You say your upbringing made you never to trust women. Well, it’s funny how we’re both from that background. I trust you with my life and you’ve hit me twice and both times I came back crying.

I wish you knew the kitchen just like you knew women. I wish you knew the dishes just like you know ‘whipping’. Between us, there’s a big difference; I might reply to a DM but you go to the distance. Said I want a baby you were scared, I could tell but when you slept with that hoe you weren’t protecting yourself. That’s even disgusting! Imagine if you gave me something probably just say your favourite word; say nothing. Don’t try and lie because I know that it’s true, it was one of your friends fucking telling on you. Plus the fact, I could fucking smell it on you You treat me like I’d never do better than you. If you left me on the floor, that’s a step up from you. I don’t know why love made me settle for you. At the end of the day you know that you’re my main chick and at the end of the night I’ve always got you dinner. Had to state a few things even though you’ll say I’m bitter. It’s just my point of view although you probably beg…………… To be continued…………..

PSA

Try not to think about it.

It’s rare you can put your finger on the precise moment your life changed. In his case, it involved an actual finger.

In late July,he had an appointment with his family doctor before she skittered off to Nairobi. Near the end of the exam, she said, “Okay, let’s do it,” so he dropped his pants, lay on his side and took a deep breath.

And then he (uncomfortably) felt that finger hesitate, as if to say, “Wait a sec…”

“You have a bit of hardness on one side of your prostate,” his doctor reported. “It could be nothing, but let’s do a blood test.”

The blood test revealed a high PSA, and for the first time we were saying the word “cancer.” Prostrate cancer. Of course he would get the most comedic of all the cancers, perhaps the only comedic one. It’s highly curable, so it’s okay to joke about; men grow goofy moustaches to raise awareness of it; and it involves the big three of physical comedy: incontinence, impotence and rectal probing.

“Well, there goes your sex life,” Deb joked when she got the news. Yeah, I thought and chuckled ruefully. Hang on: what did she mean “your”?

Weeks later, his urologist confirmed (even more uncomfortably) my doctor’s findings, and in early September, he had his biopsy.

A prostrate biopsy is essentially a test to see how much indignity and discomfort you’ll be able to manage as a cancer patient. The day began with him drinking a dose of Monurol, “an antibiotic medicine used in adult women to treat urinary tract infection.” Side effects include dizziness, runny nose and vaginal infections. He was relieved to report he suffered none of those.

They then headed to the hospital, where, as they walked past the helicopter landing pad, he tried not to let the limp windsock get to him.

Inside,he changed into a gown and sat in a hallway with three other men who clearly remembered the Great War. The orderly tried to be reassuring. “Ça va bien aller,” he kept saying as we each took our turn. “Notre sacrifice…” muttered one of the gents.

As for the procedure itself, it was like a nail gun up the rear, and that’s all I’ll say about that.

And then he waited. Once he recovered from the horrors of the biopsy, he went about his life, feeling fine, though every now and then he would think, “Oh yeah: I might have cancer.”

On September 28, he was sitting in a golf cart at Orford. It was a beautiful fall day, made more glorious because he wasn’t actually playing golf. His cell phone rang. It was his doctor. There was cancer all right, a Gleason scale of 8, aggressive, likely to spread rapidly.

Okay then.

Let’s cut to the good news: a bone scan and an abdominal scan revealed agonizingly later that the cancer had not spread. But in the meantime, he had to tell his family about what until then Deb and him had kept to themselves. Telling the children has by far been the worst part of this whole ordeal. Parents spend their lives trying to protect their children from worry, and here he was being the source of it.

It’s gotten better as we’ve learned more about treatments and prognosis. But it’s still cancer. Even though 1 in 7 Kenyan men get prostate cancer, even though it has a high survival rate, even though there are many, many people worse off than him, just the word “cancer” strikes fear. (Cancer has by far the worst PR of any disease. They should try calling it “Krazy Cells!”)

But it’s a tyrant, this cancer. Because of it, he feels he has lost control of his narrative. He’s not “fighting cancer”; you can’t fight a plane crash. Nor is he“living with cancer.” That’s like saying I’m “living with cats”: He had no choice in the matter and it’s terrible.

He has cancer. It’s in him. Doctors are getting it out; just along for the ride.

Cancer may be calling the shots but he won’t let it define him. Does this mean he’s living life to the fullest? Hell, some days he’s not even living life to the halfest. But for every bad day, there have been more days when he’s been overwhelmed by kindness or a piece of music or laughter with friends or the tartness of a tomato, which he’s supposed to eat one of a day, God help him.

This morning, he’s having his prostate removed. I’m writing this a few days prior, not yet having undergone the mortifications of pre-op enemas and extreme manscaping. In the coming weeks (months, years), he’ll deal with the psychological loss of his manhood, although honestly there wasn’t much manhood to lose in the first place. But today, we close the chapter that began with a finger. Hopefully everyone washed their hands.

Tomorrow, a new chapter begins. It turns out he hasn’t lost the narrative. It’s simply an unexpected plot twist. I’ve been writing my family’s stories in these pages for years. I won’t let scary old Krazy Cells silence him anymore. I hope he’s well. And I plan to tell what happens next.

Warning: it may involve catheters.