To say the last week of my life has been a roller-coaster ride would be more than an understatement.
This column was not easy for me to write. I tossed and turned, debating if this was the proper place to share the last week or so.
It started last Sunday, March 10.
I began to notice a pain in my groin area, but dismissed it as just that, a pain. This particular pain was tolerable, causing only a slight inconvenience in my daily routine. I went to work at the hospital and patrolled the halls with my usual vigor and optimistic attitude. But, that was on Sunday. The following day, the pain intensified. I have a fairly high tolerance for physical pain. I tend to brush it off and continue about my business. However, by the time Monday evening rolled around, the pain was too much to handle. I shrugged it off, with my teeth pierced into my bottom lip, while I continued to ready myself for work.
That’s when it became too much.
Upon arrival at the hospital, I hobbled my way to the emergency room in search of a ‘quick answer.’ The doctor on-call noticed me “walking like a cowboy” and immediately waved me over to discuss the issue. I requested we find the nearest open room in the emergency department in order to discuss my immense pain. After describing the reason for my “cowboy walk”, the doctor explained I was probably looking at what is called testicular torsion. If you are unaware, that is when the testicle rotates and the “cord” that brings blood into the necessary parts becomes twisted. I thought “there’s my quick answer.” A “simple, yet painful” rotation is the fix to such an issue. However, something occurred while the doctor performed the procedure that would set in motion the chaos of the last week.
An ultrasound was ordered as a large lump was discovered in my right testicle. Terror washed over me at that point. Not only because the pain did not subside, but because of the severity of what could be on the horizon. When you’re terrified laying in a hospital bed, the sound of a ticking clock sends shudders down your spine.
After what felt like a lifetime, the squad arrived at the hospital — the same squad I usually assist as part of my job as a security officer. It had arrived to transport me to Columbus and The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center, aka The James.
Let me back up a bit.
I was given the option to handle this situation on my own or let the doc reserve me the one remaining bed at The James. He wanted nothing more than to take care of me and wanted to get me the care I needed, so I followed his professional and personal advice and headed off to Columbus to prepare for a procedure called a radical inguinal orchiectomy.
A radical inguinal orchietomy is called “radical” because the entire spermatic cord is removed, as well as the testicle itself. It is called “inguinal” because the testicle is removed through a small incision made in the lower abdomen. Me, being the type of person that is always looking for a laugh in tough situations said that an orchiectomy sounded like the name of a dinosaur.
Despite looking for the silver lining in everything, I was left to face the facts: I was having cancer removed from my body. I was having a whole part of my body removed, permanently. My life as I knew it, will never be the same.
With my beautiful girlfriend Ashley by my side, we waited in that room on the 18th floor for a slot in the oncologists’ busy schedule to have the procedure done. Again, the waiting felt like eternity as all I could do was hope for the best. Later that day, Tuesday, March 12, I was put under local anesthesia, which I did not do well with post-op ,and I’ll spare you those details. And the procedure was completed. After I “came to” and calmed down, I awoke to the presence of Ashley and my mother in my room, only to fall right back to sleep. It felt like the best thing to do, not that I had a choice due to the amount of medication running through my body.
This whole thing — for lack of a better word — has left me with a feeling of emptiness. However, the positivity still flows, despite sometimes being overpowered. With the help of Ashley, my family, my friends, I have began to get back on track.
I will not let this keep me down for long and I know that the pain — physical and mental — will eventually subside. My follow-up appointment to have lab work done and to find out the pathology results is Monday, March 25. Truthfully, I am terrified!, At the same time though, I am optimistic, which I’ve found has become a part of me more and more throughout my adult life.
I will keep everyone posted, as much as I can, via my own personal social media accounts. With the support system that I have in place and the attitude that I push to maintain through everything, I know that the finish line is on the horizon.
I want to thank everyone that has reached out to me to ask how I am doing, to send prayers and well-wishes or just let me know that they are there if I need an ear. I am stubborn and may not always reply or reach out to you, but please know that your messages did not go unnoticed and I appreciate you all more than you could ever know.
Since we’ve made it this far, please and I mean PLEASE, don’t be embarrassed to perform regular self-examinations.
Early discover could be the difference!
I would also like to shout a huge thank you to everyone at Avita Galion Community Hospital and The James for taking care of me throughout that horrendous three-day stretch between Monday evening and my discharge Wednesday. I know that many times your jobs are considered thankless, but I am eternally grateful for each and every one of you!
Last, and certainly not least, I want to thank you Ashley. You were there when I called you early Tuesday morning to give you the news and were there and continue to be there every step of the way on this journey. You made sense of a maddening situation and never left my side, no matter how up or down I became along the way. I couldn’t begin to thank you enough for that and everything else that you have added to my life.
I love you and appreciate you more than you could ever begin to possibly know!