today i begin my second life’s journey. when we are born we start a journey, for some, one that requires embarking on an immediate journey to restore hope and life. for some, that time comes when things out of their genetic make-up force them on that journey. for instance, all those within and without the vicinity of chenoble. for most, it begins when our biological make-up revs the car and starts them on this journey well before their expected departure date. cancer is such motor. normally, certain cancers begin at a predictable age, but like the two travelers I have spoken about, the car may not be under your or biology’s control. so, like life itself, this journey is not predictable. like with all trips, certain things give you an indication of how the trip might turn out or need to be taken – sick family members, natural disasters, and your bodily readiness. In all these cases, when these warnings appear and are recognized, you’re better prepared for the trip, or the journey may pan out well. i ignored my warnings.
but i have lived a lucky first leg of life’s journey – no human, natural or bodily impediments have stopped my journey so far. but in november 2011, what i took for hemorrhoids turned out to be an enlarged prostrate. no, i do not have prostate cancer, but the pain i had endured before i eventually went for a check up in november is indescribable – there were numerous pit-stops, some near fatal. the check revealed that my psa was high, but not carcinogenic yet. it was, as with the luck i have had all my life, discovered just in time. but the oncologist’s first statement when he saw me “this is unfortunate. I have never seen this in someone as young as you,” was a sad reminder that i had not traveled life with the necessary precaution for the speedbumps and potholes.
the oncologist put me immediately on hormone therapy to regulate the production of testosterone and reduce the enlarged prostate gland. in november, i traveled to michigan, there were times i thought i’d pass out from pain. my cheerful moments were when i chatted with you. at such moments, all my pain dissolved in the mirage of a life i thought was healthy. the conference and week passed in a blur. when i got back, the oncologist inserted a gel-like regulator in my lower abdomen with a syringe the size of my little finger. it was not the pain of piercing my body with such metal that hurt, but the fact that my life’s journey will for the forseeable future be taken with an engine regulator. there are numerous side effects to being on hormone therapy, as with my life previously, i was lucky i only had one – hot flashes. menopausal women, i hear, have hot flashes. i had reached the menopause of my journey. sometimes as i stood in front of people i’d have a hot flash or two. the wetness was manageable as i only wear dark colors and that makes it difficult for the healthy ones to notice, but such moments reminded me my vehicle was not purring properly. in summer it was ok, but in winter, the idea of stripping to cool myself down while everyone around me was heavily clothed was a painful reminder that my journey through life is not normal. abnormal is normal with me usually, but this abnormality was abnormal.
a test, a few months later in (march) 2012, revealed my psa had responded impressively to the hormone therapy. true, apart from the one week in michigan when everyone else seemed to be traveling well, the pain had subsided, and thankfully, the difficulty of urination had eased tremendously. time was when i would go into the loo, stand there with my manhood in my hand and nothing would happen. in spite of the pleasant news from the test, the oncologist slid in another regulator into my lower abdomen and insisted that i go for radiotherapy, just to make sure my prostate does not flare up again. this implant made me bleed – i have been bleeding since then.
my first trip to gph in april was traumatic, surrounding me were men and women far much traveled than myself, but sitting in the reception meant i had caught up with them through over-speeding. ah, yes, the oncologist said the reason for my prostate enlargement was an overdose of natural testosterone. imagine. is there a lesson in all this? is there a bigger picture to this? the radiologist ordered a full-body x-ray and ultra-sound to determine if there were any potential danger from the previuosly enlarged prostate. all x-rays and ultra-sound revealed nothing. everything was ok, but like the oncologist, he adviced that i will have to go through with the radiotherapy. i agreed, but a discussion of the financial costs weeks later gave me the impression there might be a collusion to make financial gains by the oncologist and the radiologist at my expense. after all, the oncologist gave me a third implant. the radiologist tried to play the life card with me, “you know, life is more important than money.” he was trying to scare me with death – i was constructed not to feel the emotion of fear. not even death. but there was no doubt i would go through with the radiotherapy – i wanted to complete this journey.
as i sit here at the reception, i contemplate taking this journey on my own. the reason for this is simple. i have learnt over time that those i have counted as close have a different understanding of friendship and affection. so, i have grown to taking journeys by myself. many a time, people who claimed they have affection for me have let anger confuse affection and friendship, and forgotten that anger passes but friendship endures. a journey is remarkable for the people you take it with, so i imagine with a car load of people who want to only arrive you are better off not having them with you. i have heard when the journey throws up its vagaries, such travelers will either watch you patch a burst tire, or hitch a ride with a traveler who appears, for the moment, to have a better means of getting to their destination.
in seven weeks i will be onto the next leg of my journey through life. this has been a very painful journey in more than one way. i have driven by lay-bys and watched as people had picnics. my mind has been tortured. my body has given in to the heaves of the road. a journey is supposed to make you lose weight, shed the impediments of previous journeys, i have gained 10 kgs. the precision with which i had embarked on journeys before has been compromised by what i can only feel. i have stopped for services the vehicle did not need, but i could not refuse. the only feeling that has not been compromised on this journey is the lack of fear. my dna lacks that component, and this has pushed me on, on this journey.
the picture of the mri machine uncannily looks like a time machine. and as i laid in it visions of our future appeared before me. women, they say desire marriage, men desire peace of mind – they both want the same thing – someone who is there to make them happy on the journeys through life. my fellow traveler of four years has helped me over bumps and potholes in those years, last saturday especially, when my mind gave in to thoughts of what lay ahead of us on this journey. i have several tattoos representing my nature and my passion, today i received three tattoos – pinhole tattoos that say “this vehicle has been serviced.”
i saw you today as i rode through the ‘time machine’ … i saw you holding something that looked like me, and you were at peace.
Copyright © Fani-Kayode Omoregie 2014
Read the full story in my collected short stories – Gravity of Desire.