Posted by: Ken Wheatley | October 19, 2009

Surgical Consult and Dry Cleaner: 10-6-09

(This was written on 10-7 and for some reason it didn’t post.)

I had my second surgical consult yesterday, October 6. I went in with the expectation that it was perfunctory, as it seemed almost 99% certain that I would choose UCSD for my surgery. It’s the place Sheila was treated of course, so that scored major points, it’s certainly familiar terrain, and I felt comfortable with Dr. Kane. But I wanted to be thorough, so I kept the meeting with Dr. Carol Salem.

Wow, what a difference! She spent over an hour going over my tests results and all my various options. She agreed with my primary urologist, Dr. Tran, and Dr. Kane at UCSD that surgery was my best option, for both short and long term reasons, given my age and staging.

Many people have asked why I don’t get radiation or chemo first instead of dealing with the trauma of surgery. Radiation, at my age, can cause worse cancer problems later in life, but more important, it would probably rule out surgery if the radiation didn’t get all of the cancer, so I’d have even bigger problems. And with chemo, not knowing at this point whether the cancer has already spread, would risk killing good cells and unnecessarily compromising my immune system. I certainly wish there was a less invasive method, but I’m comfortable that surgery is the right decision. If it has already spread then I would still have the radiation and chemo options. 

I also learned for the first time that the other half of my prostate has pre-cancer cells. So one half is cancerous and the other is pre-cancerous. For some reason the other two doctors didn’t point that out, but she showed me where it was called out in the pathology report.

The other consideration is that UCSD is a teaching hospital, so something to consider is the likelihood that a resident would be doing a good portion of the surgery and there are portions of it that there is only one chance to get the cut right – the cut just below the bladder to separate the bladder from the urethra, for example .

So I’m going with Scripps Mercy hospital and Dr. Salem. In the meantime, I’ve received unsolicited feedback from two nurses who have worked with her for at least 5 years, and they couldn’t say enough positive thing about her, so that is very reassuring. Surgery is scheduled for 11/5.

On the way back to my office I stopped at the dry cleaner. It had been some time since I’d been, and I thought I should check to see if I had left anything.

The owner looked in her computer and said that I had one item, a pair of pants. So when the carousel came to a stop and she handed the pants to me, I immediately noticed that they were too small. When I examined them further I realized that they were Sheila’s favorite black slacks. I wasn’t expecting that. She always took her clothes to another dry cleaner near USD, which reminds me that I need to check there as well.

I got very, very sad standing there at the counter. I kept running my hands over the legs of the pants as my vision became obscured from the sudden emergence of tears as I thought back to the countless times I had unsnapped the buttons and clasps and pulled the pants down past her feet when she couldn’t. Although she did like me doing that even when she was well, so it was both a good and sad memory at the same time. Something else for me to envision the next time I’m in the bedroom…



  1. ken, please keep us informed continually….

    about you. without saying, you have many of us with you on this damned thing you must endure.. …..but, youre surgery will
    be successful……….amen, monica

  2. Ken, I am so glad to hear your surgery is scheduled. If there is anything that I can do to make things easier please dont hesitate to ask.

  3. Thanks for the offer, Darlene. Steve is going to take me to the hospital, hang-out until I get out of surgery and bring me home whenever I get released. My daughter can’t get time off from work, so Steve’s also going to stay with me at the house for a couple of days to be sure I’m okay.

  4. Thanks Mo. The writing is as much for me, especially now, as it is for you. And I appreciate the support you and others have been giving me since my sweetie isn’t here.

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