Monday, March 23, 2009


A living dog is better than a dead lion.
Ecclesiastes 9:4

Thinking of her whippet who’d been recently castrated, my adult daughter asked if I’d need to wear one of those protective cones so I wouldn’t lick myself. After the surgery, upon my release.

I would if I could, guess I said.

My surgeon says there’s a slight chance they’ll find no additional cancer in the prostate – with it removed, and once they’ve had a chance to examine it. My response was something along these lines: I suppose at that point, it’s too late to think about putting it back?

They harvest a cancerous prostate, no different than harvesting a rutabaga or a summer squash.

It’s never a good thing when in the throes of a compromising position, someone tells you to take a deep breath or bite on a towel.

For my Florence Nightingale, my lady with the lamp: this is the in sickness and in health part.

The catheter, upon having finally been removed and hung on a nail above my workbench: ideal for draining the old engine oil from my lawn tractor or the Simplicity snowblower. We all aspire to something of a far greater value, finding new purpose long after we've exceeded our useful lives.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009


an earthiness

at last
and as if watching
you turn the gardens

weren’t enough, to sit

on the back porch
immersed in birdsong

sweet apple blossom

Monday, March 16, 2009


So I meet with my physician, and from the results of a previous CT scan, learn I have a thin chest wall. But a big heart.

Or maybe an enlarged heart, considering all the exercise.

He’d smiled, when early on I’d inquired if it might be possible they’d gotten all the cancer during the needle biopsy.

In any case, start to finish, I’ve been treated like a rock star. An abridged report card: lab technicians A, radiologist A, nurses A, anesthesiologist A, surgeons A+, primary physician A+, facilities A-, hospital food C+, administration B+, pharmaceuticals B+, insurance carrier B+.

From the initial blood screening, to the biopsy and surgery and all that came after, I’m here to report that including the food, particulary the cottage cheese, the quality of healthcare in America is alive and thriving. Nothing against Canada. Nothing against Cuba, I'd love to visit one day. We have friends who are Cuban, Anna Ruth played her cello at our daughter's wedding. In this house, there is always morning. Nothing against Cuba, but contrary to Michael Moore's diatribe, I'm glad I had the operation a little closer to home.

Saturday, March 14, 2009


Walking hand in hand with the one I love, sun on my shoulders, the wind at my back... steppin' out with my strapon and feelin' free.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009


I wake up to bright lights, loud voices, and a sudden, frenzied commotion. I wake up, and right away I’m thinking: I’ve been in a plane crash and I’m still strapped into my seat!

Except there’s this catheter draining to somewhere below my line of sight.

Which might be a good idea for longer flights, especially as the baby boomers’ prostrates begin to balloon. But in this context, tangled in the switches and cabling, the catheter seems ridiculously out-of-place.

Except this isn’t a crash site, it’s a hospital bed – one of several in Recovery, each a deluxe model with all the gizmos and gadgetry. Like lawn equipment, they’ve come a long way since the Eisenhower years.

Still, I’m confused by the juxtaposition.

It’s as if they’d just rolled me onto the operating table, then I’ve been wheeled to my room and it's instantly dark outside and nearly my bedtime. Glad I thought to hydrate. Glad I packed my toothbrush and a pair of slipper socks.

Sunday, March 8, 2009


pure of mind

pure of body

pure of spirit

Saturday, March 7, 2009


On Friday, we get robbed. They came into our home and took a gold bracelet I’d engraved and given to my wife on the occasion of our wedding in 1972, and an old Elgin pocket watch that had belonged to my great-grandfather. He’d been a professional photographer in the late 1800s, and had photographically developed images of my great-grandmother and infant grandfather onto the watch’s porcelain face.

The incursion: rather a precise assault, we’d each later agreed. Almost surgical, a surgical strike! We were heartbroken. On the upside, sure, collateral damage. But fittingly, except for intangibles, with little else left disturbed.

Friday, March 6, 2009


This morning I heard about several high profile men who recently died of prostate cancer, as many as a dozen or twenty, and already I can’t remember their names.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009


So I get home from work, and there’s this FedEx package waiting. When I open it, I see it’s my old catcher’s mitt – from when I played Little League. I’d bought the mitt in 1959 with S&H Green Stamps. Oh, and this letter and a poem were tucked inside:

Dear Brother,

I’ve enclosed a gift that you sent to me many years ago. You didn’t know it at the time, and I have never told you.

I want you to fully understand how important you are to me and how much I love you. I only have one brother, and you be da man!

I’m not sure you realize how much I look up to you, how proud I am of you, and how fortunate I feel to be able to constantly learn from you. For years I tried to emulate your every move. Thankfully, I matured and became my own person. We share the same genes, and I can only hope that I have at least a fraction of your many attributes. We are different, yet similar in many ways.

I’m very worried about your wellbeing, and am angry that you have to go through this crap. I’m sorry it’s happened. But I feel strength knowing it’s you tackling this issue. You’re so strong both mentally and physically that I’m confident you’ll get through it with flying colors. It’ll be difficult, but you can handle it. Easy for me to say, I know.

You’ll be okay, and please know I’ll be right there with you. Be strong, just like you always have been.


Monday, March 2, 2009


Okay, the operation is one week out.

They moved it up. Radical prostatectomy. Everyone said I should be happy to get it over with, but I’d been living in the moment like they told me and suddenly the moment was cut short.

So I did the only thing I could. I grudgingly adjusted to the new schedule, and now the operation is one week out.

One week. Perhaps there’s a silver lining. I’ll be ready, I’ll simply need to rearrange a few things. Maybe channel my emotions. It helps that the weather’s turned ‘round. It’s not exactly the January thaw we’d been hoping for, but after spending two months in the single digits, forty’s the new sixty.

Sunday, March 1, 2009


I was thinking about a poem I’d written for my young daughter a number of years ago, sort of a study in hey! things could be a lot worse. If I remember correctly, it went something like this:

little girl
little girl
what shall I do?

one stocking is red, the other is blue

little girl
little girl
what shall I do?

one stocking is old, the other is new

little girl
little girl
what shall I do?

two stockings I have, but only one shoe