Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Part 6: The Catheter and the Hat

OK, just one more post about Creepy Catheter and then I won't bring it up again.

Yesterday I had a post-op appointment with Dr. N because my surgeon Dr. J is out of town this week. The receptionist scheduled it for the hospital closest to my house, but I'm not sure she was really clear on what I was supposed to have done.

The waiting room at this particular Cancer Center was ginormous and science fiction surreal, except for the obligatory TV blaring in the corner and the unsettling Cancer Magazines scattered across the tables. I give the receptionist my name and she says "I don't work for Them, but I'll let Them know you're here." Mom and I sit down to wait. And wait. Aaaaannnnnd wait. Every 10 minutes or so someone would come out of the back wander around the waiting room, watch the TV for a while, ask if I was SallyAnne and then wander out again. Eventually the doctor comes out and starts heading for the exit. I say to Mom, "He doesn't look too tough, if you create a distraction I think I can take him down before he reaches the door." Considering the catheter and incisions, we thought better of it and he returned a couple of minutes later.

I was called back to the examining room and the nurse took my vitals and described the process of removing Creepy Catheter and left me to change. Dr N. turned out to be absolutely delightful. He went over what he was going to do in plain language and used just enough humor to put me at ease without feeling forced. Also I'm a sucker for an accent and the streak of New York City coloring his commentary just killed me.

A Foley Catheter is an ingenious device. A thin tube is inserted through the urethra and into the bladder. After it's inserted a little balloon on the end in the bladder is inflated with water, holding it in place. The other end goes to the urine catching bag. When it's time to remove it, they deflate the balloon via a special valve and pull the tube out. Here's the thing, though, they needed to know that after they removed the tube, my bladder was functioning and I could fully empty it when I peed, otherwise they were going to have to reinsert the tube. This was completely unacceptable to me, particularly because I was unconscious when it was originally inserted.

The only way to be sure was to fill my bladder to almost bursting with a measured amount of water via the tube, take out the blasted thing and then have me pee into a urine catching "hat" to measure the amount coming out. Dr. N starts squirting water in and he says "You should start feeling like you have to pee." A little more, and "If you were watching TV you might consider peeing at the next commercial." Still more and "Forget the commercial, you have to go now." "OK now you're starting to curse me out in your head." A total of 200cc and he deflates the balloon, pulls out Creepy Catheter and sends me off to the bathroom, which is down the hall, around the corner and down another hall.

As I sit up, the water is threatening to squirt out and I say, "Gimme a paper towel" slap the sucker between my legs and go dashing down the hallway in my TSA socks, robe flapping in the breeze practically knocking over radiation patients in desperation. On the way the nurse says, "Gee I hope nobody is in there." Yeah, you think!?

The bathroom was open and she put the pee hat in the john and left me to it. I was determined that unholy piece of aquarium tubing was not going back in. Sure enough I must have pulled excess water from my kidneys and even my swollen feet because 200cc went in and 250cc came out. "Pee on Demand" now gets added to my list of superpowers.

One last bit of fun with the pee bag before I got rid of it. I wore mine strapped around my shin the same way we wear Morris bells and so thought it would be entertaining to give it a May Day Makeover.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

It Takes a Village to Kick Cancer's Ass

Since I first started blogging about my Lady Business I've been absolutely floored at the outpouring of love and affection I've received. It's been a veritable avalanche of emails, fountain of Facebook posts, cascade of cards.


I hear from family and friends that they are thinking of me, sending me healing energy, holding me in the light and praying for me, all of which are a beautiful blessing and a powerful gift. I also hear that their friends and family are doing the same. My mom got word that a whole order of Catholic nuns she works with are praying for me, by name and very intentionally. Never before in my life have I felt so nurtured and cradled by a community.

My community is my source of strength and wisdom and the main reason I can see the funny side of a crappy period in my life. I depend on my community to help me reconnect to my strong self when it gets too hard to do on my own. Recently a friend called from Vermont to ask how I was doing and see if there was anything he could do to help, and all I could say was, "Darlin', you just did it!. You thought of me, connected with me and sent me energy with a phone call. Honest to God, it's the best help ever."

Having said that, I've gotten some really wonderful gifts from my "village" and I'm thoroughly enjoying all of them.

There have been bunches of gorgeous flowers...

Chocolate! (and if you think we have gotten too much, you can think again!)

Books and a relaxation CD

Thoughtful, useful things like chapstick, handmade blank notecards, pens and soup

Jewelry and an inspired gift of a Make Your Own Mosaic Kit

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