Friday, February 06, 2009

Humiliation & happiness (by Suzie)

        No, this isn’t another post on BDSM. I’m talking about my bladder again.
        How many urologists does it take to fix my bladder? In this bad joke, I’m at five and still counting.
        I like and respect No. 4, who specializes in genito-urinary cancers. (My leiomyosarcoma didn’t start in my bladder, but I have damage from surgery and radiation.) I decided to go to No. 5 after struggling with a bladder infection for a month. I discovered that some urologists specialize in women these days, while some gynecologists are specializing in bladder problems. This is a great improvement over being the odd-woman-out among all the guys with prostate problems and/or erectile dysfunction.
        At one point, No. 5 was trying to determine if I could live with self-catheterizing. He asked: “Would you be happy if you stopped having these infections?” I wish I had said: “I would be less miserable.” Instead, I stared mutely as I meditated on the meaning of happiness.
        He also mentioned a urodynamics test, which I had a few years ago in my first urologist’s office. Here’s how a nurse describes it:
It is certainly not the most fun test in the world, with a special catheter in place, a drape to collect any leaked urine, another catheter and balloon in the rectum, and either a surface or needle electrode in the perineum …
         Since it seems useful to repeat the test now, I couldn’t understand No. 5’s hesitation. He explained that some people find it humiliating.
         We might all be better off if we could get over embarrassment about our bodies. There is nothing shameful in having a medical test that might improve my life, even if it feels like I’ve been abducted by aliens. Having probes stuck up my orifices doesn’t diminish or degrade me as a human being.
         You wouldn’t think that I’d need Humiliation Studies, but I found this Web site on the subject. I didn’t see a lot of gender analysis, but it does appear that men who feel dishonored or disrespected are more likely to strike back with violence than do women.
        I wrote this in advance. Today, I'm either at the annual meeting of the Society of Gynecologic Oncologists, advocating on behalf of women with sarcoma, or I'm in an ER, depending on whether the latest antibiotic worked. Feel free to discuss happiness and humiliation among yourselves.