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Notably Quoted

It’s good for an artist to try things. It’s good for an artist to be ridiculous.
Sheila Heti in How Should a Person Be?: A Novel from Life (p. 18)

Administration
« Balance | Main | I’m Not Getting Any Younger »

Roto-Rooter & Recovery: Part 4

Continued from Part 3

I bet you hope I’m getting close to wrapping up this series on my surgery. Perhaps I’ve paid so much public attention to it here because I don’t have an actual physical scar to show. All that pain and suffering, and no visible evidence. Drat!

The last morning in the hospital looked to be pretty eventful. The surgeon was scheduled to remove the catheter, after which I would be allowed to go home. For the final procedure, he went about hunting down the numbing gel that was going to be needed; he’d specifically instructed the nurse to transport it to my new room the previous night. I directed him to the location where I believed it to be, and though it wasn’t exactly the substance he had ordered, he decided to use it anyway. (That made me a little nervous.) He briefly explained the extraction procedure to me and then, very quickly, it was over. I believe I let out a loud groan or gasp as it occurred, but the most intense part of the pain was fleeting. The cancer patient in the next bed, on the other side of the curtain, could hear the whole thing and offered up the opinion, “well, that sounded pretty ugly!”

Post-catheter, I needed to hang around the hospital until I could successfully pee on my own. That happened quite soon, with a good, red, blood-drenched stream, which was accompanied by a lot of internal burning. As I would soon learn, this uncomfortable sensation would last awhile.

After the first bathroom visit was successful, I asked the nurse if I could call for my ride home. She said yes, so I made the call. I still needed to wait for final word from the doc, but it wasn’t long until he wandered by again, and said I was good to go (or, you know, something to that effect).

A friend picked me up and got me home. I remember almost falling down on the stairs leading to my apartment door, but being caught before I did damage to myself. I thought I was in pretty good shape that morning, but a few days later I realized I could barely remember the trip. I guess I was still under the influence.

In the weeks after the surgery, the recovery proceeded quite slowly. For the first ten days, I drank lots and lots of fluids to keep myself flushed out, which meant many trips to the bathroom. In terms of prostate symptoms, it seemed little had changed. I had my first post-op appointment ten days after surgery, though, and I was advised I could cut back on the fluids … and that, yes, things would settle down. In the next few hours, with less liquid intake, I did, indeed, need to make fewer trips. That was a huge relief.

However, in coping with the rest of the recovery, patience seemed (seems) to be the key. I was very fortunate I had been able to time the surgery for early December. I missed three weeks of work and then a week when campus was closed entirely (for the holidays). During those four weeks, my energy was very low. It burned every time I peed. And I continued to bleed … for a long time. At the ten-day mark, I had reported the bleeding had ceased; that was definitely not the case. I bled for weeks and weeks. Sometimes a little bit, sometimes a lot; and just when I thought I’d bled for the last time, I’d bleed again.

Although I am now able to manage life without taking Flomax (after ten years, being able to eliminate a major drug from my daily routine is very welcome), and my symptoms are much improved, I wonder if there will be a time when I stop thinking about the next bathroom trip. It seems that after years of conditioning, this is a hard habit to break, even when my body has had major work.

[The story continues here.]

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