Yoga Borgo

February 23, 2016

When Your Medical Diagnosis Crashes Your Invincible Self-Image

For the most part, I have been blessed with excellent physical health and a very strong physical and mental constitution. Through life it is something I have learned to count and rely upon. To be honest, I always felt quite invincible and in my more macho days often had a hard time having compassion for people who were less than physically fit. In my early days of teaching it made for pretty tough classes. This attitude worked pretty well for me until one day, I broke two vertebrae in my back and I couldn’t walk. Suddenly, I was one of those less than physically fit people. Through God’s grace, the help and compassion of many friends, good medical care and physical therapy, yoga and diet, I was able to regain my health after about 18 months.

That was 17 years ago. Since that time, I have been blessed with continued excellent health and unbound energy until…

I am now 65 years old and at this age many men deal with prostate health issues. This past fall, I started having classic enlarged prostate symptoms. I decided to go through natural healing methods which worked pretty well but not completely. Actually, I was avoiding the PSA test to determine if there was any cancer present. After a few months of natural therapy, I decided to have the blood test to make sure my PSA levels were healthy since I was still having some symptoms. The blood test came back fine and there was no trace of cancer so I went back into my invincibility cocoon and summoned the courage to see a urologist. I figured it would be a simple process to just confirm my excellent health.

After the standard prostate exam (ugh) and an abdominal ultra-sound the doctor confirmed that, yes, my prostate was enlarged but we can deal with that, he said. He was concerned there may be polyps on the prostate and we should do an endoscopy to explore the urinary tract, prostate and bladder. So after that less than fun experience, as my doctor and I were walking down the hospital corridor together, he turned to me - and here I have to say he does not always have the best bedside manner, but he is very direct and does not pull any punches and I really respect that - so he turns to me and says, you have a malignant tumor in your bladder and it needs to be removed. I needed a moment to make sure I was hearing correctly and hoping I was not understanding the Italian, I said “Cosa” (what!). And he repeated, you have a malignant tumor in your bladder and it needs to be removed. This time I felt I was punched in the stomach, the air knocked out of me and I actually tripped and he caught me. So much for invincibility! My immediate thought was, I don’t have tumors! That’s just not a part of my lifestyle. Denial can come quickly, even for a Yogi.

And there I was with my life suddenly changed. The irony and the beauty of this is that I had been saying for over a year, I want to change how I manage my life. Well, certainly here was the opportunity. Not exactly the type of motivation I wanted but a clear cut message from the Universe….change!

So I am now digesting and dealing with my very new reality. Life can be fragile and my response to that is: What!? Intellectually I can discuss it but, come on, this is ME we’re talking about!

My first prostate exam was 23 December so, Merry Christmas, and my endoscopy was 30 December so Happy New Year! Not exactly how I wanted to spend my annual end of the year break.

At my meeting with my doctor after the endoscopy, he went over the different treatment options available. He said, first we need to do a biopsy which would involve another endoscopy under anesthesia, and then I would spend about five days in the hospital for further cleaning of the bladder, recovery and observation. With the results of the biopsy we would know what the second step would be.

Armed with my denial, I told the doctor, o.k., that is fine, I can do the biopsy in February after an-already-planned-trip to Sweden, Mexico and Los Angeles. I’ll return from Los Angeles the second week of February and we can do the biopsy then. He smiled patiently, and said, no that won’t work we need to take care of this as soon as we can. So thanks to Socialized Medicine, that meant the earliest possible date was 27 January. Great, still time for my trip! I can report to the hospital, on the 26th, have the procedure on the 27th and then relax in the hospital for five or six days. O.k., I’m fine with that. Efficient and no interruption to already made plans.

I tell my doctor about my travel plans and confirm that I will be back on the night of the 25th and check into the hospital at 8:00 a.m. on the 26th. All is good. He looks at me and says, are you sure? And I of course respond, sure, I travel like this all the time. Well he knew more than I did. I did do the trip, but Mamma Mia, I can only say it was a great trip but after 3 ½ weeks, I am still recovering.

Before my departure, we still had a few tests to do. My year-end holiday (again not the holiday I planned) continued through the first week of January with electrocardiogram and a CT Scan of my abdomen and chest, among other tests. The day after my last test, I was on a plane to Sweden and into my journey of denial….Denial of a tumor but accepting my low energy as a possible flu symptom. This attitude got me through most of the week in Sweden and the week in Mexico. A one night stopover in L.A. and then that “easy” night flight back to Italy. Piece of cake. Wrong!

At any rate, I made it back, survived the trip, entered the hospital the next day, had my biopsy, spent 6 days in the hospital and finally remembering, oh yeah, I wanted to make some changes in how I manage my life….gosh, I wonder what those might be.

“Slow down, you move to fast, you’ve got to make the morning last….”

Suddenly I am thrust into the lessons of patience and acceptance. Waiting three weeks for the results of my biopsy due to under-staffing at the lab (what can you say, Socialized Medicine), experiencing low energy because of an infection due to the tumor, having twice daily shots of antibiotics to keep the infection at bay… I am learning patience, I am healing and I am keeping super positive. Not sure exactly how all that is possible but it is.

I am a Louise Hay junkie, affirming like a maniac, reading “Love, Medicine and Miracles” by Dr. Bernie Siegel, receiving love and support from untold numbers of people and feeling very blessed. I have even met my Inner Physician…not a concept I had ever considered until a friend just recently said, your Inner Physician will know what to do. So, I have met her, I don’t have a name for her yet, but she is my constant inner companion through all of this, giving me every confidence that all will be fine.

In his book, Bernie Siegel quotes David Ben-Gurion: “Anyone who doesn’t believe in miracles is not a realist.” So, I have become a realist and I am allowing miracles into my life.

I am still waiting for my biopsy results. I’ll let you know when I get them and where this adventure is taking me next. In the meantime, I am receiving so much love and support I can only feel gratitude. God works in mysterious ways.

Love to All, Light to All, Peace to All
Sada Sat Singh