Random thoughts from flyover country

Wednesday, June 20

Quick cancer follow-up

After six weeks of convalescence from my surgery, I returned to work. My supervisor said he was going to give me a slow and easy post until I got my strength back completely. That lasted from 0700 hours to 0900 hours when he came to my post with another officer to replace me. Then he took me to a much busier, more visible, more active post. And his idea of taking it slow? I only worked fifty-five hours that first week. Since then, I've averaged around fifty-three hours a week with a peak of sixty-three and a half hours. Well, I was bored sitting around the house.

Okay, I promised an update when I posted this, so here goes. The results of my lab work showed a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) level of 0.0 (undetectable), which is to be expected since I don't have a prostate anymore. This is, boys and girls, a very good thing because it indicates that the cancer was fully encapsulated in my prostate and had not metastasized. So, every three months during this first year, I'll get checked out. It'll be every four months the second year, and then every six months for years three through five. At the end of five years, if nothing pops up in the meantime, I'll be considered cured.
The bad news is that the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force advises against PSA screening. They have all sorts of reasons that don't address the fundamental fact that prostate cancer in younger men (younger than 75 years of age) will likely kill them within 15 years or less of diagnosis if left untreated, and the last few years won't be a picnic. Interestingly, there are no oncologists or urologists on the panel. If my primary care physician followed the task force's recommendation, my rapidly increasing PSA wouldn't have been noted, and I wouldn't have been sent to a urologist for a consultation. Without that consultation and recommendation for a biopsy, my cancer would not have been diagnosed until I couldn't urinate due to a rapidly enlarging prostate (which was already somewhat enlarged) or my bones started hurting because that's where prostate cancer goes. The end result of following this task force's recommendation would have cost me my life.

Guys, this is not for sissies. Get regular check-ups, and, when you get them, insist that you get your PSA levels checked. If they are rising or high already, have your doctor refer you to a urologist for further screening and possibly a biopsy. The PSA test isn't a good way to check for prostate cancer, but it's all we have right now.

Monday, June 18

Old School

Well, my boss finally listened to me. Y'see, CLEET has rules about the Armed Security Officer class: You can only carry the type of handgun with which you take the class. If you take the class with a revolver, that's what you have to carry. If you take the class with a semiautomatic, that's what you have to carry. If you want the option to carry either or both, you have to take the class twice, the whole class, and pay for it again, full price. I took the class with a revolver. It was my choice. When I was assigned to my current assignment, the office issued me a Glock 22. I tried to tell the boss that I was in technical violation of CLEET rules, but he had me qualify with the Glock and told me to carry it while he checked with CLEET. Funny thing was, he never got an answer back from CLEET. So, during an off-site event for which we were tasked to provide security for our local political figures, I explained, again, that I took the class with a revolver and that was what I had to carry to be in compliance with the CLEET rules. The following day, I went to the office, turned in the Glock, and drew a Smith & Wesson 686-6 .357 Magnum with a 4 inch barrel. The armorer then provided me with a crappy Uncle Mike's Duty Holster, 18 rounds of 158 grain round-nosed lead .38 Special, no speedloaders, and no speedloader pouches. Luckily, I had a decent leather holster, lined, black basketweave, that fit the 686 like a charm. I also had two HKS Speedloaders and two double speedloader pouches. One speedloader pouch and a double drop pouch went on my duty belt loaded with Remington 125 grain SJHP .357 Magnum ammunition. I was finally in compliance with CLEET rules. When I showed up at work carrying the L-frame, people noticed. One of the maintenance men pointed it out to the others, and one of them nodded sagely and said, "That's old school." Police officers ask about it, and senior people in the local government do, too. Strangely, the police seem to be in awe of the revolver, especially when my captain tells them I shoot it better than the other officers shoot the Glocks. Our elected officials seem oddly comforted by the old guy with the old gun. They don't know about the S&W Model 37 in a front pocket. This last weekend, I found two more HKS 586 speedloaders at the gun show. Yesterday, I put the other speedloader pouch on my duty belt, giving me four speedloaders full of .357 Magnum and two SpeedStrips full of .38 Special for the backup. The other security officers don't understand why I wanted to carry a revolver, but my superiors just look at my qualification score and nod. Guess I'm staying "old school." ECS