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
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
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.