The beginning. This evening I began to pee blood in earnest. I was driving back from Avoca and stopped off at Melton for a burger and a wee after a few (light) beers with Lyndal to finish the day.

Quite surprised to see a flat blood clot about the size of a cornflake in the urinal. The red blood slowly gave way to urine colour. I was keen to wash all the red away as if it wasn’t happening. Maybe it had been like that all day but then I was peeing on the ground and couldn’t tell. I had another pee just before I went to bed but didn’t turn on the bathroom light but I could see it was very dark in tone. There had been plenty of warnings about blood in urine. But after nearly 4 days, I thought I might have missed that bit. Perhaps I’ve an infection that’s spreading into my bladder and kidneys. Perhaps it is because I had a fairly physical day up and down the ladder and carrying and digging. Woke up early thinking that I should make a note of all this. Will send a note to James with a request for some server space.

To work back in time a little, I’d been putting off having a general check-up and PSA test for some years. Can’t remember what actually prompted me but it might have been a feeling of discomfort in the prostate that I get from time to time and refer to as prostatitis.

Although it had never been diagnosed as such. The discomfort used to go away after a week or so. Dr Blanche stuck his finger up my bum and felt around but said he couldn’t feel anything particularly unusual. I had blood test and it returned a PSA of 11. Which Dr Blanche said was high. He put me on antibiotics (Trimethoprim) for a week on the 28th August 2008 and referred me to a urologist after another test. No one sent me any results but when I got to see the urologist he said the PSA was still 11 and that he recommended a biopsy. He also felt around (a little more painfully) but said there might be something but he could not feel any tumour. The waiting room was full of anxious looking older men. I was just another statistic being processed. Part of me knew that it would all unfold predictably, as the genes determined, but another part clung to the wishful idea that it was simply an infection and that another round of antibiotics would fix it.

The biopsy was a morning hospital procedure. Starting at 6:30am. The urologist had given me clear instructions to take 2 laxative tablets as well as an antibiotic (Ciprofloxacin) the night and morning before. Susan took me in and they were friendly and very careful to make sure I was the right person. I was assigned to Tania who would follow me through the process. She gave me a locker (key #10) containing a little pile of white hospital clothes: a gown, some gauze like underpants some curiously shaped blue gauze shoes and a white towelling dressing gown. I couldn’t manage to tie up the gown. When dressed in these clothes, I went into the next room where I was put on a trolley and covered with a white sheet in a room full of other people (men and women) on trolleys. She was a little concerned about me having had a glass of water and kept asking me about it so I lied and said I’d only drunk half of a small glass. This allowed me to imagine myself inexplicably drowning under the anaesthetic.

There was a fair bit of waiting. I watched people being wheeled away and a man who could barely walk shuffle off to the toilet until there was some concern about him. Tania put some numbing cream on a vein on my left hand. Then a thickly accented Irish man (turned out he was Scottish) introduced himself as Michael and said he would be my driver. He went away and came back about 9:30am, raised the sides of the trolley and off we went (quite fast) down a labyrinth of corridors through heavy swinging doors. We arrived at a kind of staging room full of activity. People coming and going. Another woman had followed us and she stood by me watching the TV news on an overhead monitor (that I couldn’t see) until another woman who seemed to be in charge confirmed my identify and put a pink gauze hat on me. There was some discussion about the colour of the hat and it was eventually changed for a blue one. People came and went. Maggie Beer came on the unseen TV and outlined her recipe for prawn cocktails but just as it was getting interesting, someone turned the channel to something else. After about half an hour I was taken down the corridor to somewhere else. My memory is vague here. Perhaps due to the anaesthetic. But I recall that the anaesthetist introduced himself and showed me a handful of needles. I asked him what he was using on me and he said an anaesthetic, an antibiotic and something else. I pressed for more and he rattled off a list of chemical names. He was quite amused and asked me questions about my melanoma as we sped down another corridor, I guess he was just waiting to see me pass out.

Next thing I recall was a quite beautiful Indian woman waking me. I think I was delirious because I seem to recall that we discussed if she would marry for love or – as arranged. I think she said, arranged. Somehow I found myself back in the room where I had started. My blood pressure was taken quite a few times and I waited until discharged.

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