Notes From The Cactus Patch

Tall Tales and Ripping Yarns from The Great State Of Texas

Deep Diving With Lloyd Bridges


That’s not me in the tube!

I resumed Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy today; not by choice, mind you, but of necessity. The necessity part of it is; do it, get healed, or lose my bladder and pee in a zip lock bag until I check out.

Well, no-shit, that’s a hell of a choice. So I allow myself to be encapsulated in a large Iron Lung looking diving bell, taken down to 3 atmospheres while breathing pure oxygen for two hours. If I had to pee during that time, the tech gave me a little plastic urinal; not much help.

Just to be a smart ass, I ask the nurse if this machine is approved by Lloyd Bridges. She gives me a puzzled look. “You know, Sea Hunt, the television show about the diver?” I say. No laughing, she’s all business; and much too young.

This will be my life for two months, five days a week, two hours a day. I tell the nurses that I am so excited to be back. I have already been through six weeks of this a few months back.

In 2019, I was diagnosed with a whopping case of prostate cancer. Ok, if any old man lives long enough, they are likely to develop a case of it. Mine was terrible, but the good doctors at UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas said they could save the sickly gland and me with a radically new form of treatment. SBRT High Dose Radiation, the latest thing out there, and only they had the machine and the know-how. I was in like Flint.

For a month before the zapping, I was stuck with large needles, drained of my blood, prodded, poked, had things inserted into my body that was far too large for the opening, and radiated via MRI and other expensive machines of which my insurance would pay for. I was begging like a hound to get it over with.

After all of that, I had no modesty left. A cute 25-year-old nurse tells me she wants to stick this evil-looking object in my what? Yeah, go ahead, what the hell. Of course, she is smiling the entire time. The little sadist in scrubs. I whine to my wife about my brutal treatment. She’s a nurse, one of them, so no pity from her.

The big day arrives. Five treatments of intense radiation over 5 weeks. The specialized nurses tell me this is the “good stuff,” the same type of secret Plutonium 54 that Oppenheimer used to develop the bomb. I am impressed but also scared shitless. I remember what happened to Nagasaki.

Strapped onto a padded bed similar to Frankenstein’s laboratory, heavy metal bars hold me down, and my head is immobilized. More needles and tubes inserted, and then, the giant machine is whirling around me like an H.G. Wells time machine. I see the nurses standing behind a radiation-proof glass booth smiling and waving. They seem to be drinking coffee and eating Crispy Creme Doughnuts. Damn. I feel a burning sensation through my body. I’m humming like a top and see colored lights before my eyes. The radiation is doing its thing. Country music is playing from somewhere in the room. I see the ghost of Hank Williams standing at the end of the machine. He’s eating a doughnut and washing it down with Jack Daniels.

Four more treatments, and I am done. My Oncologist says I am healed; a miracle it is. The nurses give me a certificate and a hug, then I am out the door. See you in a year, they say.

Less than two years later, I am pissing blood like a vampire and am a hurting unit. My urologist says, ” didn’t they tell you that that SBRT sometimes fries your innards?” Well, hell no, they didn’t tell me that! Doc Finger tells me that It did a number on my bladder, the surviving prostate gland, and my Urethra Franklin, all as crispy as Waffle House bacon.

So, I am back for more Hyperbaric treatments, and I am praying that these next two months will fix the problem. More later.

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9 thoughts on “Deep Diving With Lloyd Bridges

  1. Get well soon — we need your stories!

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  2. Gilmer Gal on said:

    I’m not liking this story. Seems like the last couple of years you’ve been writing about your ilnesses. Please tell me it’s one of your blown-out-of-porportion fiction pieces. There are still more class reunions to come and we want you there!

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    • No, it’s the real deal here in Granbury. I am optimistic that this next few months will do the trick. I try to approach all personal issues with a bit of humor, sarcassam and embellishment, which paired together, seems to work wonders for my mood. Speaking of reunions, Maureen and I are attending her 50th this coming Saturday night, same place our class of 69 met. It was scheduled for last year, but with the China bug thing, well, shit happens. When I run out of medical drama’s, I may start posting pictures of my scars in a similar scenario from the movie Jaws when Quint and Hooper were trying to one up the other. Thanks for asking. Why does East Texas get all the good rain?

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  3. So very sorry you are going through this. I also apologize for laughing at Urethra Franklin.

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    • Thank you Jack. Yeah, I found a way to make it laughable. My apologies to Ms. Franklin. My urologist is quite a young jokester, so he gets the entire thing.

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    • Gilmer Gal on said:

      About your bladder, Johnny. DeWayne had bladder cancer a few years ago, and had to have it removed. His doc made him a new one out of a section of his intestines. It was rough on him for a while, but there’s no bag attached. Anyway, if there is a chance you might need a new bladder, let me know and I’ll find out where DeWayne got his.

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