Friday, October 29, 2010

Frustrating, but livable

It is annoying, to say the least, to spend 2 weeks with a tube coming out of you. There are things to worry about that are new. Making sure the line is clear and not kinked, as an example. But since we have nerve sensation in our entire bodies, we're used to physical sensations when we need to go to the bathroom, sit down, sleep, etc. THe line-and-bag has no nerves, of course. I need to constantly visually check it, making it feel like a numb appendage. A problem, by the time is causes me sensation, will be a very urgent problem. This was part of the problem with yesterday's visit to the Emergency room. the line had become plugged (yeah, its gross but sorry: this entire thing is gross) since its not just processing urine but draining through a wound site. Drinking mega-water is the solution. Apparently I'd slacked on my water just enough for a clot to form in the line, and then suddenly my poor bladder, so tortured last week during surgery, was getting a workout and having to work like a bladder again when its just not ready to. It was forced to stretch to hold the non-emptying liquid. The danger here was if it stretched too far it might burst some of the stitches in the bladder. If this had happened, and if urine had gotten into the abdominal cavity, I would have been susceptible to sepsis, and -- most importantly -- would have risked spreading urothelial cancer cells into my abdominal cavity, creating a cancer field-day in my abdomen. This all could have gotten 10x worse, giving me several new, different cancerous areas just yesterday if the catheter had remained blocked for just another hour or so.

So, its frustrating. But I am good at reminding myself that it is just two weeks. If this was a permanent lifestyle change, I'd probably need some therapy and there would be some major adjustment. I know people that live with this 24/7 and they adapt just fine. Most of the problem, I realize, is my own feeling of broken-ness. Its a constant reminder of the Cancer Thing in a way that the hidden, theoretical, internal cancer never was. It showed up on x rays and scans, but I basically felt fine. The chemo was different, and that was the moment when it started to seem like it was real, that it was really happening to me. But there were times during the chemo that I just felt tired, sick, etc.,etc: at least these were familiar feelings to a certain extent, even though the chemo is unlike anything else I've ever experienced. It still felt theoretical. like it could have just all been a mistake. I couldn't ever see the cancer. The catheter is a visual, physical reminder of where I'm at. I'm amazed that I can sleep at all with it in, but the human body is quite amazing at adapting. It still surprises me and shocks me a little to see it coming out of me. I'm partially plastic at the moment: this thing becoming an unfeeling appendage that I nevertheless take care of as I would any other vital body part. I'm not saying that I will miss it once its out -- quite the contrary --- but for a few days afterward I may still tend to look for a nearby place to hang the catheter bag whenever I stop moving. I haven't yet walked away from it leaving it hanging there, FYI: its amazing how quickly one gets used to the idea of this thing and understands how much that would hurt.

It is temporary, and it is survivable and it is tolerable. Episodes like yesterday's trip to the emergency room leave me frustrated and feeling that I'm really tired of taking up people's time (most notably mine) with this thing. But the surgery is done. The cancer is out. The bladder is healing. Just 3 more nights and then I'm back to normal (whatever that is).


Anonymous said...

As you said, "But the surgery is done. The cancer is out. The bladder is healing" And as you also said, it's temporary, transitory, you don't have to live with it much longer. Still, I can see how having to live with it for months could make a feller want to do something that would get him a whole bunch of community service.


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