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Sunday, February 26, 2017

Fringeville #154: Russian Hacks, Barbed Wire and Tornadoes

I have decided to run for a 2-year seat on the Plains Township Board of Commissioners. For a number of reasons, the 2-year seat works best for me.

Almost as soon as I started circulating my petition, Fringeville had an uptick in hits from Russia.

Let me be clear: I have never been to Russia. I have never eaten chicken wings in or ordered chicken wings from Russia. I don’t even like Russian dressing.

I do like the occasional white Russian, as long it kicks like a mule and has about a thousand calories.

As to this guy, recently seen leaving my house, yes he bears an uncanny resemblance to the Russian leader, Mr. Putin. But this is my old college fraternity brother, Vlad …ummm… O’Hooligan. He’s from Moscow, in Lackawanna County.

Rumors he was wrestling a bear cub in my backyard while shirtless are utterly untrue. On rumors he was wrestling the cub’s mother, I have no comment.

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I have had an enormously distracting problem since June of 2016. Barbed wire pee. Sounds as bad as it feels. Yes, it was looked at. The opinion of my urologist at the time was that I had passed a stone, based on tests and my symptoms. He cheerfully told me I have another stone that is “non-obstructive.” He assured me the stone will let me know with a hammer blow of pain if it decides to pack up and move from its comfy spot in my kidney to a nice home with a view in my ureter.

“What then?” I asked.

“We pulverize the sumbitch with sound waves.”

I considered strapping speakers to my abdomen and blasting AC/DC or Metallica and just pulverizing the sumbitch myself, but I didn’t know how my other organs would fare. Heavy metal isn’t good for the liver.

The stone hasn’t moved, but the barbed wire torture hasn’t gone away. And yes, that’s been checked again after an episode I’d rather not go into. No blood or infection in the pee. Just, apparently, barbed wire.

Since last summer, I’ve dreaded every trip to the bathroom. And the other side effect of all this is that I make a LOT more trips to the bathroom. A warning: If you’re in Wallyworld and you hear cussing coming from the men’s room, it’s probably me kids. I’m harmless. All bark, no bite, just lots of wincing and cussing.

For your protection, they barricade the  Wallyworld bathroom until I am done so little ones don't hear me cussing.

I am convinced this is tied directly to the prostate cancer I’d hoped to be cured of. I say this because I have been watching my PSA number rise from a post-surgery zero (undetectable and possibly cured) to this past week’s result of 0.23 ng/ml (nanograms per milliliter of blood).

While there a number of conflicting studies on what measured PSA number post-surgery signals a recurrence, a number of studies point at 0.20 as the threshold. And the longer you go before you trip that threshold (if ever) the better it is for your long-term prognosis.

I won’t bore anyone with all the details, but I can say simply this: 0.23 in less than 3 years is not good.

I expect some feedback from my team at Penn Medicine. They may want to wait another 3 months to see if I stay above the threshold. However, I fully expect them to recommend I pursue treatment options to delay any metastasis. It is likely I may have bad little bastard PSA-churning cancer cells living in the prostate bed (where that organ used to reside) or, less likely, somewhere else in my body.

It struck me immediately after the latest result that I now have treatable prostate cancer. If I live long enough (meaning I don’t choke to death on a chicken wing, die driving through tornadoes1 or meet my maker some other way) it will eventually spread. Once it does, the clock to the eternal heavenly wing fest begins ticking. Prostate cancer can be very slow to metastasize, so it really is likely I’ll ride off into the sunset for some other reason. Unless I’m an unlucky bastard (Hint: I’m Irish. Do the math.)

In the meantime, every time I manage to put cancer out of my mind a bit, it’s time to f****** pee again.

1 See the next bit for driving through tornadoes

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My wife’s Neon blew a radiator hose. I actually got the right one from the parts store, and my son and I replaced it. We finished just as the rain turned steady yesterday.

I suggested taking it “around the block” which on my street means a trip through Laflin and down Route 315 to Plains again. As the Neon chugged up the hill in Laflin, the temperature needle started to rise.

“Dad, I think it’s hailing. Isn’t there a tornado warning?”

“It’s expired. It’s only hailing a little.”

A couple two-tree2 minutes later we were on 315 moving at five miles an hour with hail, torrential rain, wind, an engine running hot and defrosters kicking out cold air, totally fogging the windshield.

“You’re off the road!” my son shouted. He rolled down his window to see where the shoulder was and his ear was pelted so hard with a rain/hail mix that he rolled the window back up.

We eventually found a place to pull over until the storm passed. We got off the highway, and pulled over again because the engine was almost screaming hot.

We got back to the house, fixed (we think) the issue with the car, and went for an uneventful test drive.

A bit later, we learned there was, in fact, a tornado a few miles from where we were. It turns out the watch was extended 45 minutes, and we were off gallivanting in it.

God forbid what if we had driven into it?

Well, no more barbed wire peeing, so there's that.

But since it is the Irishman’s lot to suffer, we were unscathed and my barbed wire saga will continue.

2 Two-tree is advanced Pittstonese for 2-3, for those of you not from NEPA

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