Back to the Doctor's

Between Friday and Tuesday I got used to having a catheter. I didn't travel from home during that time. I was happy wandering around the house in my shorts with my bag taped to my leg.

I had a night bag that looked like it could hold a couple super-sized big gulps. That hung off the side of the bed and meant I had no late night trips to the bathroom. The smaller day bag was attached to my leg and needed to be emptied every 3 or 4 hours. A few days of changing and emptying bags and you settle right in to the routine. I stopped being squeamish about having a rubber hose coming out of the end of my penis and went to great lengths to keep everything clean to prevent infection. They gave me oxycodone for pain but the only real discomfort I had were frequent bladder spasms and occasional cramping. Really quite manageable. I'm still on pretty heavy antibiotics to reduce possible infections related to the catheter so I tapered off the pain meds. One or two at night and one or two during the day. I found early evening the most uncomfortable time but like I said, it was manageable.

Tuesday we returned to the Doctor's office to have the catheter and surgical staples removed and have a meeting to go over the pathology report as well as what to expect as I entered the next phase of recovery. By now I was quite good at dealing with the catheter and was almost a little sad to bid it farewell. I wouldn't miss the bladder spasms, but the bag itself wasn't much trouble at all.

The hardware removal was handled by the office nurse and the meeting was with my Doctor's surgical assistant. The doctor's assistant, who actually helps the surgeon during the operation, was a tall, blond woman with a soft voice who, when she arrived at my hospital bed to tell me I was cancer free, might have had wings. The nurse was more Earthly. She showed me her abdominal scar from the DaVinci robotic surgery she had a month earlier to remove a cyst. This is a completely unfair generalization of two very talented professionals. Nevertheless, I have to say, I loved them both. They were funny and kind and the kind of people you want to be your friends. That's important when those same people are going to tell you whether or not you need follow-up radiation therapy or are about to yank a rubber tube out of your penis.

I didn't feel a thing when the nurse removed the staples. When it came time to remove the catheter she disconnected the bag, cavalierly throwing it away before I even had a chance to say goodbye and incidentally, throwing away 500 cc's of perfectly good urine that they could have hung on to and sampled. They certainly seemed to need it a week ago. She told me to take a quick breath in and exhale quickly. I did so and she pulled the tube out.

I had heard varying reports on what it felt like to remove a catheter. Some said it really hurt. Others said they felt nothing. I think I landed somewhere in the middle. There was certainly a mild bit of stinging as it came out. I can't say it was the exact same feeling as pulling the drain out. Whatever I felt was overrun by whatever my unconcious was working through. It didn't like it. I was tensed as straight as a board on the examination table furiously tapping the right side with my knuckle. Carolyn was laughing. The nurse asked if I was trying to communicate with her. I explained that, no, I was fine. I just needed a moment for my brain to process that experience and file it away in the "Let's never do that again" drawer of my mind.

I finally relaxed. Carolyn tossed me a Depends and I got dressed again. We talked to the nurse for awhile and she took off to let the Doctor's assistant talk to us. She reviewed the pathology reports for Carolyn. She did her bladder control speech, her erectile disfunction speech, let us ask any questions we had and we talked a bit about general recovery timeframes. I'll go into the first two speeches a bit later. Right now, it was time for me to hike up my diaper and head out into the big world!


Pam said…
Thank you for your portrayal of nurses.

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