Gloom Versus Spasms

Today is a glorious sunny and cold December day, and we are making electricity. We just passed three days of gloom. How gloomy? Let me tell you how gloomy. Gloomy is when all of your light activated night lites turn on in the middle of the day. No joke that’s how dark it was. Then, to make my life more interesting I am living through the after effects of a minimally invasive procedure. Which involves a catheter and an unknown unheard of phenomenon called spasms. I’ve lived through some tough health problems in my lifetime but these spasms are the worst. I never know how to answer a medical person’s question: “On a scale of 1 to 10, where one is no pain, and ten is unbearable-excruciating pain, what level are you experiencing?” This time, my answer is that when a spasm occurs it is a bonafide 10. Thankfully, a spasm probably doesn’t last longer than 10-20 seconds, but it feels like a day. I think I have come close to child bearing pain. It is amazing that there are nine billion people in the world if the women have to bear that level of hardship.

If I had to choose between a month of gloomy days and three days of spasms, I’d choose the gloom. Over the last four score and four years I’ve experienced as many gloomy November and December days as God gave us, and I’m still here to talk about it. The only thing I will remember about these last three days are the spasms. The funny thing about my brain is that it likes to instantly remember the lousy things that happen, and push the happy, joyful things deeper into the abyss of memories. When I think about my two wives I never think about how we fell in love, or all the beautiful places we saw and the friends we made, I think about how much they suffered during their final years. Why is that? I have to consciously raise a memory of a particular trip or event to have happy thoughts, but gloomy, sad events immediately come to mind.

Happiness and sadness are very similar to positivity and negativity. We are programmed from birth to go negative automatically with our parents always telling us “no.” How many times did you hear something positive about your actions? The ratio is 100 negative to one positive. I was raised like that. As an adult I had to learn the benefits of positive thinking, and then train myself to become positive. At this age I feel I am very positive, but I often find myself reverting to the negative side of the situation. Just like these past days with the minimally invasive procedure, I should be thinking of all the easy times I will have during urination, but all I can focus on is bearing up to the “spasmodic TEN.”

My urologist has hinted that this healing process may take as long as three months. That is how long I have to continue the medication that did the job for the past ten years. I believe that if I did a payback analysis on this personal improvement it will come back with “not worth it.”

Minimally Invasive, Yeah

Today is the day I have been getting nervous about for the past six weeks. Most old guys like me have an enlarged prostate gland, and I have been taking medication to allow me to void. Back when I began taking the medication my Urologist told me that the medication is only good for about six or seven years and then the body no longer responds. That was at least ten years ago, and my time ran out. The options for improving the flow were not pretty. Along came a new procedure which I looked into and decided that if I ever have to do it this would be the one.

My instructions were to arrive 45 minutes early, which I did. Then I sat waiting for the entire 45 minutes before any activity occurred. In my mind I was rehearsing my termination speech for when I fire this doctor. They must have a whole semester of medical school dedicated for how to piss off a patient. One of the methods is making them wait for an appointment. This example is only out done by the pharmacy schools who teach young druggists how to staple drug information to the bag the drug is in, and then to staple the receipt on top of that. Not just once, but several times to make sure the drug container won’t fall out on the journey home.

Finally, five minutes before my formal appointment time a nurse called me in. Her job was to administer an anti-biotic drug in the butt before anything else began. “Are you allergic to anything,” she asked? (I had previously filled out a medical information questionnaire, and boldly listed that I was allergic to penicillin). Oh well, she was just being cautious I thought. “Just penicillin, the name of the drug you mention in the instructions ends in a ‘. . . cin’ are you certain that it is not in the penicillin family,” I asked? She smiled and left the room with the syringe in hand. She returned a few minutes later. “Now I am certain,” she said. I presented my buttock and she speared me with the needle. It is the first time that I got a shot that burned like fire, and kept burning for the next few minutes. “Go back to the waiting room, and I’ll call you when we are ready.”

I finally got called, and the following thirty minutes was spent breathing nitrous oxide to calm my nerves while the so called minimally invasive procedure took place. I’ll skip the details because it is too much information for a blog post. When it was over I looked at the urologist and asked him if I would get a discount for training the young assistant that shadowed the process. Then I turned to the nurse and accused her of not turning on the nitrous tank because I really didn’t feel calm at all. Then I turned to both of them and said, “who ever labeled this as a minimally invasive procedure is nuts.” I had an ultrasound wand up my butt and a tube the diameter of a nickel inserted through my urinary tract into the prostate. If that isn’t totally invasive, I’d like to know what is. Of course the term is a euphemism used to mean no cutting involved.

The kind nurse helped me get dressed and gave me instructions for how to take care of myself after I leave the office. “Be sure to make an appointment for tomorrow so we can remove the catheter,” she emphasized.

My grandson drove me home, and I spent the next hour on the throne with diarrhea.

The cell phone rang and I answered. “This is Doctor XYZ’s office calling to tell you that your appointment has been changed because we are not in the office tomorrow.” In my opinion, this doctor may know what he is doing medically, but he doesn’t have a clue about how to run a business. Why wouldn’t they know about a major change in office hours sooner? Like before I made an appointment.

All I can say is that it is over, and now the period of healing must take place, and I have to keep this MD on my payroll until I am healed whether I like him or not.

Probed In All the Wrong Places

One of the drawbacks a man faces during aging is a body part called the prostate gland. My prostate was referred to as a basketball by my latest urologist (U2). Latest because I out lived my first one (U1). The prostate encircles the urethra and as it grows it squeezes the urethra to narrow. The narrowing then makes urine flow slow down, and sometimes can be slow enough to become non-existent. Luckily, my Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) has not reached the point of a completely blocked flow. When that happens a man is brought to his knees with kidney and bladder pain that only catheterization and morphine can relieve.

Over the past fifteen years I have been able to control the need to pee by taking a drug called Flomax. U1 informed me that after about seven years Flomax can stop working. He recommended surgery which at the time was a ream job under sedation. I chose to tell my regular MD about the problem and he doubled my dose of medication. It has been working, but in recent months I have noticed the symptoms reappearing. U2 recommended two options: 1. Surgery, or 2. An in-office procedure called UroLift.

Before he asked for a decision, U2 told me he had to rule out any other conditions which might cause a problem. He had to do an internal bladder inspection, and then take a volumetric measurement of my prostate. Evidently, the UroLift is only recommended for men whose prostate has reached a specific size, and there is no sense in talking about a UroLift if the bladder is found to be cancerous and needs to be removed surgically.

Friday was the day I was scheduled for these two tests. If you have ever been told to drop your drawers to the floor by a woman in preparation for the almighty U2 you know how humiliating an experience it is. Even though I have had the bladder test twice by U1 it remains humiliating to me. Although I don’t remember it being painful when U1 did this test. U2 however has the finesse of a Yeti and seemed to be in a hurry, because his moves were rapid and I felt every twitch and every squirt of water he made. “Everything is okay,” he mumbled, you’ll have pain for a couple of days (He was absolutely correct on that matter). “Get your pants on and wait.” I sat waiting and had a super tremendous urge to relieve myself. I opened the door and asked for a toilet. A nurse showed me to the door. It was locked, someone was using it. I danced while I waited for the room to clear. The first pee after this inspection was really painful as was the second, third, fourth, etc. When I finished I opened the door to find a nurse waiting for me she pointed at another room. “You mean I have to go through this again,”?

“Yes” she said. “Take you pants off and lay on the table on your left side facing the cabinet.”

I did as she ordered, and waited for U2 to reappear. It took a few minutes for him to come in. “I’m going to take a picture of your prostate to measure it’s volume.”

“Is this an ultrasound?’ I asked.

“Yes”, and with that he shoved a dildo up my ass and waved it around all the time talking to himself. It felt like two hours, but it probably was only two minutes to complete. He showed me a photo of a very gray something, He said, “there is your prostate”, pointing at a darker grey image in a gray field. You are at 82%, and then mumbled something about my choices with a suggestion that I might want the UroLift option. Actually, he was right, I do want the UroLift, as I had already been researching the procedure and the system since U1 had told me about it three years ago. Finally, he told me to get dressed and to stop by the front desk to make an appointment before I leave.

The next day, I had a sharp pain in my lower back which I haven’t had in a very long time. I wondered if it was related to the probing of the day before.

I survived the humiliation of the testing and have forgotten about it, but now I look forward to the procedure with anxiety. I only have six weeks to be nervous before it happens.