Yesterday was another milestone in my process to get fixed. We were due another fun trip to High Wycombe hospital for what was billed as my “trial without catheter”. From Catheter Catharsis, regular readers will be well aware of my feelings towards that infernal device and that I was very much looking forward to seeing the back of it. I was a little concerned about the word “trial” which seemed to imply that they could potentially find a reason to reinstall it. I didn’t want to consider that possibility.
Having had one race with the snow when I was admitted to the hospital for my operation two weeks ago, the weather again demonstrated its unerring sense of timing. Once more snow was forecast and we had the “can we, can’t we?” nervousness. As it turned out, Thursday morning remained clear and Carol dropped me at the hospital for my 8:00 AM appointment with the urology specialist nurse.
At 8:30 AM the nurse greeted me, told me to strip from the waist down and offered me her couch. There’s nothing like a medical process to conquer any remaining feelings of bashfulness. Now, given the discomfort I’d experienced when walking with the catheter, though I desperately wanted it out, I wasn’t looking forward to the actual process of it being removed. While she was deflating the internal balloon that secures such things in place, the nurse advised me to breathe in through my nose and out through my mouth. I was happy to comply with any advice offered by the experienced as she began pulling.
What a weird internal sensation! I think I expected discomfort, maybe even mild pain but no. What I got was a feeling that an Olympic class earthworm was sprinting it’s way to the outside world using my urethra as its tunnel. Or maybe this was the 8:30 train pulling out of Bladder Station and disappearing down the underground (subway, in Amerispeak) Urethra Line. Either way the weirdness was relatively short-lived and I was free of it. Phew!
My admission letter had warned me to expect to be there all day, hence Carol had returned to Aylesbury for some retail therapy with her mother and sister. There were two things on my potentially day-long agenda.
Now catheterless, I was dressed elegantly in my first absorbent pad (nappy/diaper) and given pen and paper with which to perform my my first agenda item: fluid accounting. I was to log my input and output of liquid. Every movement I made seemed to cause a leak which I could feel. I was ushered into the ward’s day room where I sat reading Sue Grafton’s Q for Quarry and drinking water (stick it on the form) until I felt the need to relieve myself. Very tentatively, I got up – squirt – bent down –squirt – to pick up my measuring bottle – squirt – and began marching to the loo; left – squirt, right – squirt, left – squirt, right – squirt. Oh good grief! They told me to expect incontinence but I wasn’t ready for this level of it. I leaked significantly doing anything other than sitting still. Even standing and not moving, I leaked. Miraculously, having leaked my way the 15m/45ft or so to the nearest loo, there was some left in my bladder: 200ml – stick it on the form. This routine continued through lunch.
My second and, perhaps, more important agenda item was to meet my surgeon again for the histology report. The surgeon is a busy chap. This being precisely two weeks since my operation, he was again in theatre performing another radical prostatectomy on another deserving soul. He had a meeting in the ward at 2:00 PM; maybe he’d get to see ne before that. No such luck. Finally, at 4:00 PM, my catheter-withdrawing nurse had trapped him and came to grab me. Squirt, squirt, squirt.
The histology report was as favourable as I could have hoped. My cancer had not increased in aggression; the Gleason score was still 7 (3+4 with an 80%–20% split). Crucially, all the extremities of my excised organ were clear and showed no sign of cancer cells. Thus, indications are that the cancer should have been entirely localized and completely contained within my prostate. If so, the operation should have got it all.
Time will tell. We have to wait three months for all existing PSA to be purged from my system then we begin a year of three-monthly tests.
Meanwhile, we have to learn to deal with my latest inconvenience [Ed: spot the pun?] of incontinence and hope that the situation improves as expected by the medical folks. Though basically more comfortable, I actually now feel more trapped than I did with the catheter. I console myself with the thoughts that this is early days and it’s something we have to endure if I’m to have a chance of getting beyond it to a complete fix.
Having had to wait so long for the histology report, the snow had arrived. My sterling chauffeuse went above and beyond to return to Wycombe and give me, now in my third nappy of the day, a safe and comfortable ride home through the flurrying flakes. Unbounded gratitude to her.