Something Wasn't Right

Zine from the CancerGram 1 of 18, covering events that happened in the summer of 2014.

I was having trouble peeing. I saw the commercials and thought that I had normal 40 year old men’s prostate issues. It was something I was aware of, but didn’t think about very often. I was living in Toledo, OH and teaching at BGSU. It wasn’t a great year. I had lost the opportunity at Davidson College through crazy circumstances. I was devastated.

I found myself living by my self that year, teaching 3D animation and wondering what would come next. I taught four classes per semester and didn’t have much time for friends. I spent a lot of time alone, prepping my classes, applying for jobs, and making art. One evening I broke open a tub of frosting instead of a pint of ice cream. In the middle of the night I woke up feeling like I needed to urinate, but I couldn’t. I drank a lot of water to try to flush my system, but even though I could pee sometimes, the discomfort just turned into pain. I was able to get some relief and comfort in the warm tub, so that’s where I stay for most of the night.

The next day I took a walk and drank more water, but I wasn’t getting better. I was waiting for it to pass, for my body to right itself, but it couldn’t. Late that night I was in so much pain that I gave up and went to the emergency room. By that time, I felt that my right testicle was going to explode. But when I really tried to find the source of the pain, it wasn’t in my testicle, it was somehow behind it.

I didn’t want the meds. They ran a few quick tests to make sure that some of the more dangerous things weren’t happening. No torsion, no bladder about to burst. They didn’t see anything. Eventually they thought there might have been some blood in my urine sample, but it was diluted from all the water I had been drinking. They ended up diagnosing me with a bladder infection, which was treated with an antibiotic. They gave me a strong anti-inflammatory and we waited to see if my pain would subside. It did not.

Sometime in the middle of the night, after about 24 hours of discomfort and pain, I asked for the pain medication. They gave me a shot of dilaudid and everything was immediately all right. The pain was gone, and so was my general concern about all things. When dawn came they said I could take a cab home. While I was waiting, I gave a guy in the hospital lobby $20 just to help him out.

After a day or so, the antibiotic had done its work and I started to feel better. I resolved to stay away from sugary foods and drink lots of water. I saw a urologist who performed some tests and put me on a prostate medication. That’s when I started to see the blood. And then it all happened again.

This time, the pain med wasn’t as effective and the night nurse in the emergency room seemed to believe I was making up the story about bladder infections to get drugs. I didn’t figure that out till later though. I went back to the urologist who changed my medication. I showed him the picture of the blood in my semen. He seemed impressed, and said it could be from the bladder infection.

But I knew that something wasn’t right.