Much to be Thankful For

This Thanksgiving the Rahe family is hunkered down at home. The temperature outside is 61 degrees, and winter is about to begin in earnest — with snow predicted for tomorrow. We are blessed with the presence of my wife’s parents, and our children are having a grand time. There is much for which to be thankful.

It could have been otherwise. Shortly after Christmas, eleven months ago, our eldest, then eleven years old, was suddenly wracked with pain. Fearing appendicitis, we rushed her to the hospital (which is four blocks away). There, after an ultrasound, she was diagnosed as having an ovarian cyst the size of a baseball. Surgery was imperative. So, that very day, my wife drove her to the University of Michigan children’s hospital — where, a day later, she went under the knife. Her parents were terrified; she was nonchalant. And, within six weeks, she was running track.

I, too, am lucky to be alive. As long-time readers of Ricochet may remember, my elder brother had prostate cancer when he was in his early sixties and had the prostate removed. I was myself alert to the danger; and, late in 2010, when my PSA jumped dramatically from a very low score, I contacted an old friend who recommended me for a diagnostic study at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda. There I had an experimental transrectal MRI and both an ordinary scattershot and a targeted biopsy in March, 2011. On that occasion, Dr. Peter Pinto, the surgeon conducting the study, found a smidgen of cancer. Last March, when the procedure was repeated, that smidgen had grown dramatically, and I was strongly encouraged to opt for intervention. On 25 June, at NIH, I went under the knife — and, though the operation was a great success and I was neither incontinent nor impotent, there were complications. A lymphocele developed. I returned to NIH on 27 July and remained there until 21 August, as repeated attempts were made to drain the lymphocele and reduce the flow of lymphatic fluids. When it became clear that the last of these attempts had failed, I flew back to NIH. On 27 August, Dr. Pinto opened me up once more and cut a window in the cavity where the fluids gathered so that they could drain into the peritaneum. There was, I should add, one other complication. While in the hospital at the end of July, I came down with pneumonia.

The whole business was an ordeal. If you or one of your loved ones has or might contract prostate cancer and you want to know more, or if you are merely curious about the gory details, just Google Ricochet Rahe prostate and read the pertinent posts. I should warn you that I pulled no punches in describing what I went through at each stage. My purpose was to leave those who want to know a bit better informed.

I emerged from this ordeal intact. There is next to nothing left of my wounds. The evidence strongly suggests that Dr. Pinto succeeded in cutting out the cancer before it had spread. My PSA, which is now 0.13, confirms that surmise, and the lymphocele is gone. If I do not always feel like a million dollars, it is solely because my age is approaching 64. To Dr. Pinto and his colleagues and to medical researchers both present and past, I, my elder daughter, and my family more generally owe a great deal.

Needless to say, all of this was hard on my wife and difficult in some measure for my children as well. She held up like a trooper, and her parents did yeomen duty, driving from Maine to Michigan to take care of our children while I did my first stint in the hospital, and taking care of them in Maine for much of the time in late July and August when I returned to NIH for a more extended stay. To my wife and her parents, I owe more than I can say.

And now? Well, it is simply good to be here — and a joy to flirt and banter with my wife and to watch our children grow. If I were not gravely worried about the trajectory of the country in which we live, I would be perfectly content. Today, at least, I will soon drown my sorrows in turkey and stuffing.

  1. John Grier

    Life and families are the best gifts God has given us.  

    Per our friend, Dennis Prager: “Lousy is normal.  Good the aberration”

    This day we are greatful for all things.

  2. ConservativeWanderer
    Paul A. Rahe:

    And now? Well, it is simply good to be here — and a joy to flirt and banter with my wife and to watch our children grow. If I were not gravely worried about the trajectory of the country in which we live, I would be perfectly content. Today, at least, I will soon drown my sorrows in turkey and stuffing. · · 57 minutes ago

    May I say, Professor, that it’s a joy to banter with you through the intermediary of Ricochet, and I hope that both you and I have many more years to do it.

    Now pass the gravy.

  3. tabula rasa

    I’m not a big fan of the modern world, but your post reminds me how grateful we should be for modern medicine (also air travel, central heating, and hot water on demand).

    My family and I have been blessed immensely in the last few years (including the survival of a 2 lb. 3 oz. preemie grandson, who is now a normal three-year-old wild child).

    But it’s not just medicine for the sake of medicine.  It has allowed most us to be with our families much longer than unfettered nature would have permitted.  That’s the fruit of the blessing.

  4. Trink

    I’ve followed your brave account of the diagnosis and surgery.

    My husband had the same surgery 6 years ago.

    My understanding is that with his almost non-existent PSA   . .  his is considered a cure . . . he is cancer-free.

    So much to be grateful for this day.

  5. Rachel Lu
    C

    Happy Thanksgiving, Prof. Rahe! It’s good to have a chance to enjoy the simple pleasures with people we love.

  6. Dave Carter
    C

    Here’s wishing you a long and healthy life, Professor.  By the way, you didn’t specify when you mentioned drowning your sorrows in turkey and dressing.  That wasn’t Wild Turkey, by chance was it?  

  7. Jimmy Carter
    Dave Carter: That wasn’t Wild Turkey, by chance was it?   · 18 minutes ago

    If it were, I think The Professor would have stated “turkey and dresses.”

  8. Paul A. Rahe
    C
    Jimmy Carter

    Dave Carter: That wasn’t Wild Turkey, by chance was it?   · 18 minutes ago

    If it were, I think The Professor would have stated “turkey and dresses.”· 16 minutes ago

    I did drink a Scotch or two.

  9. Dave Carter
    C
    Paul A. Rahe

    Jimmy Carter

    Dave Carter: That wasn’t Wild Turkey, by chance was it?   · 18 minutes ago

    If it were, I think The Professor would have stated “turkey and dresses.”· 16 minutes ago

    I did drink a Scotch or two. · 6 minutes ago

    Well, I’m on the road,…but “cheers!” just the same.  To your good health, sir. 

  10. Jack Dunphy
    C

    Paul,

    We men of a certain age appreciate your honesty in reporting your medical ordeal.  (I’m old enough to remember when PSA was just an airline.)  It’s heartening to read of your recovery  Many thanks for all your contributions here.  Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family.

  11. RB

    Thanks for running down the NIH treatment. I’m set up for same thing with same doc. Only difference — I can walk to NIH from where I live :-)

  12. Bill Walsh

    Vivant Rahia! Happy Thanksgiving, Professor—and all.

  13. Good Berean

    And we are thankful for you, Paul. And, although I doubt there will come a time in this lifetime for you and I to sit down and discuss the history of the republican form of government we both love and of which you have so eloquently written, I will be looking for you in eternity to have just such a conversation. Bless you and yours, and all of the extended Ricochet family. HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

  14. Gene Schwimmer, Guest Contributor
    C

    I literally would not be blogging on Ricochet without Paul’s generosity and help.  I hope he stays healthy forever.

  15. Joan of Ark La Tex

    It is hard not to be sad this thanksgiving because we know so much good about this country is written off with Nov 6 verdict. But there are still much to rejoice for. The fact that an entire country’s is experiencing a systemic and fundamental change without one bullet shot, that in itself an American accomplishment. Happy Holidays Prof. God is still God and God is still Good. 

  16. Eleanor

    So glad you are recovered Professor, and your daughter! Thanksgiving blessings to you all.

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