It started in October, 2011, when I peed a blood clot. It happened two or three times over the course of a few days. Peeing a blood clot when you are a guy feels weird. It feels like an obstruction, and the dam suddenly breaks open. I don’t know what a woman feels when she pees, or if she would notice it.
Actually I’m sure she would notice it, but would probably figure it was getting close to ” that time of the month “. Guys don’t have that to deal with, usually. So I felt a mild obstruction, then the dam broke loose and I was looking at a dark, nearly black blood clot. It slowly sank into the toilet bowl without breaking up, or changing the color of the urine.
I considered what I saw for a moment with a hint of mild panic, and made a mental note of the strange occurrence. It happened again a couple of days later, almost in the same way, and I knew something wasn’t quite right. I tried to do a self diagnosis, without enough facts, and the only thing I found on the web was maybe I had bruised my kidney or some such.
I had been eating aspirin for about 10 years, at the rate of no more than 10 a day at 500 milligrams each, so I decided to quit the aspirin regimen for a few days. The aspirin was for chronic pain in my joints ( knees mostly ). I don’t do pharmaceuticals, as I believe they’re bad for us, so aspirin was to take the place of an anti-inflammatory, and to help keep pain down to a minimum.
I didn’t have another episode like that for about three months. I was taking the aspirin again, and had been for quite some time. I had only quit the aspirin for a few days, and not having that blood clot in the pee problem happen again immediately, I had thought it was just a fluke. I guess it wasn’t, in hindsight.
So it had happened again in January of 2012, only a brief episode and mysteriously vanished again. I figured it must have been because I had started eating aspirin at my usual doses again. So once again I quit taking aspirin for a few weeks, and everything seemed to go back to normal.
In March it happened again. Just as before, and I repeated the steps I had taken previously, so the symptoms abated, again. I knew aspirin was a thinning agent in the blood stream, so I lived with the pain in my joints for about 6 months, before resorting to aspirin again. The pain in my joints was constant, and every heartbeat could be felt in my knees. Even now I can’t really describe it.
Because of massive cartilage and ligament damage, my knees ached constantly. Every step is an agonizing ordeal, as the joints separate when I lift my feet to walk, and don’t always reconnect properly as I step upon them again. That happens about every third step, and the pain is excruciating. It always feels like bone hitting bone, with no cushion between them.
So once again I resorted to the aspirin, and around November, I peed a couple of blood clots again. That time they were even bigger, and more frequent. I knew If I stopped taking aspirin, the problem would go away. So I pretended everything was fine and endured the constant pain for a while longer.
By January I was getting tired of the throbbing in my knees, so I started taking aspirin again. I kept my dosage down to three, or maybe six aspirin a day, and it helped with the pain. I thought such a small dosage would be okay, and it seemed to be fine.
About mid February the symptoms returned with a fierceness, I would never have thought possible. This time it wasn’t only a blood clot or two. It was as though a log jam had given way. I peed blood. At first it was a purple black color, but as days passed, my pee was starting to be a bright crimson in color, and it happened every time I peed.
I mostly kept this information to my self, as I didn’t want to worry my wife. I also realized it wasn’t just a bruised kidney or some other lame thing. I put up with that for about a month, but found myself getting weaker and having trouble doing the simplest chores. I would have to kneel down, to get more blood flow up to my head.
I could hear my heart beating in my ears, and it sounded just like a train running across the trestle, near where we lived. A chore that usually took ten minutes to do, was taking a half hour, and I had to get low often. I knew I was in trouble, and was going to have to see a doctor.
Near the end of March, I knew I was in trouble so I mentioned to my wife I needed to go see a doctor. She knew I wasn’t kidding. A man doesn’t say he has to go see a doctor, unless something is seriously wrong. We found my old doctor was still practicing in town, and I made an appointment.
He did a quick exam, and we discussed what my symptoms were, and I gave him a blood sample, and a bright red urine sample. Those were sent off to the lab at the local hospital that morning. That was a Friday morning. Apparently, he was called before the end of the day, and told I needed to get in there for a blood transfusion. His receptionist tried to call, maybe, but I never got the message.
A week later I called him to see if he had received any information on my problem. He was shocked that I hadn’t been notified, as it was urgent for me to get to the hospital immediately for a transfusion. I called the hospital, and they set it up for me to be there at seven the next morning. That took all day, Saturday, and I was given three units of fresh blood.
The new blood was so I could endure a month of testing and diagnosis, to determine what my problem was. The tests included x-rays, ultra-sound, a complete physical, and a trip to Coeur D’Alane Idaho to the urologist. I was informed I was at an age, that this doctor would be my new best friend. I had thought I was being kidded, but even the urologist assured me that this would be the case, as I would be seeing him lots.
By mid May I received my prognosis, cancer! Cancer of the bladder, and it was probably caused by tobacco use. After smoking pretty much non-stop for over 40 years, bladder cancer was probably be the primary cause. And a word to all, I was told once something like this happened, it generally continues. Even after surgery, and a year and a half of being cancer free, I will have to be concerned with this as cancer cells would still be present in my system.
The tumor had attached itself to the bladder wall, feeding on a blood vessel. It was slowly dripping blood into the bladder. I saw that on the ultra-sound, and every time it dripped, it would pulse red, keeping time with my heartbeat, as though my heart was a metronome. The picture of it was truly impressive. It looked like a miniature coral garden, like you see on a National Geographic special.
This is a picture of that type of cancer cells / tumor I was shown via a scope put up my manly parts. This image is from Google Images via biome.biomedcentral.com