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            My son scanned the Internet for information on bladder cancers. Each year nearly 55,000 men and women in the United States learn they have bladder cancer.  Possible risk factors include smoking and exposure to carcinogens in the work place.

            As a research chemist and plastics engineer for fifty years, I had been exposed to chemicals, which were thought to be harmless. Many were subsequently found to cause cancer.  This was before OSHA regulations.  Today, chemicals used in the workplace must have an MSDS sheet (Material Safety Data Sheet), which states the tolerance and risk factors associated with these chemicals and how they can be safely handled.

            I set up an appointment to see an oncologist who confirmed my doctor's recommended procedure. The bladder would be removed.  The two ureters coming from the kidney would be joined together with a piece of my small intestine. A piece of my intestine would protrude through my abdominal skin conducting the urine into a pouch.  The protruding intestine, called a stoma, would look like a red button.

            I was now ready, but since this was to be a long operation, about six or seven hours, there would be two surgeons involved.  I had to wait seven more weeks for the doctors and hospital to coordinate their schedules. The earliest date was October 5.

            I continued my normal activities, walking regularly, attending meetings and seminars and playing golf. To get through this long wait, I decided to use my scientific skills and document events as they occurred in the hospital and beyond.  I would be a player in the care of my health.

Monday, October 4, 1999

            I arrive at the hospital at 1:00 PM.  After showing my identity and HMO cards, I have a meeting with the anesthesiologist.  He describes the procedure of giving the anesthesia and explains how my vital signs are to be monitored during the operation.  I go to my room and change into a hospital gown. Since I have a pacemaker, I am in the cardiology wing instead of the urology wing.