Friday, February 05, 2010

Bye-bye bladder (by Suzie)

I'll be taking a break from blogging as I relax in the hospital with my PCA. I've scheduled some Friday critter photos, but I doubt I can write anything substantive for a few Fridays. I had hoped to have weeks to plan my absence. But the day after I returned from San Francisco, my surgery was scheduled for the next week, and I ran around, signing up helpers and laying in enough provisions for my own militia.

If all went well, I had my bladder removed yesterday morning, and a piece of intestine fashioned into a new piece of plumbing that exits my abdomen. When everything heals, I can attach an appliance to it. Not just any toaster or juicer, of course. But an appliance that holds a bag for urine.

Here are still more details of the surgery. I've included a diagram of an impish-looking bladder for those of you who missed the 1970s, when we all sat in circles, looking up our urethras with mirrors. OK, that's a joke, but I wish everyone would take a moment to praise your bladder and urethra. Don't it always seem to go/That you don't know what you've got/Till it's gone.

There's no evidence that my metastatic leiomyosarcoma has returned. Surgery and radiation damaged my bladder in 2002. My treatment wasn't botched; my bladder was sacrificed in an effort to save my life. It has struggled, lo these many years. After its removal, I'm hoping I won't need to take so many antibiotics and narcotics, nor will my life be lived between restroom visits.

As a cancer veteran, I knew not to bring any reading material that didn't have large pictures on every page. After my first surgery, I tried to read a Ms. article on politics in one of the Scandinavian countries. All week, I read the same paragraph because that's as far as I could get.

Before surgery, I had a cystoscopy, and I felt like I was watching the Fantastic Voyage. I had failed to bring my female, self-lubricating catheters, which my favorite Uromed customer service rep described as "lubricious." (I love that word.) Instead, I was given one of those long, red rubber caths. Using one to fill a specimen cup is like snake-charming.

I had the daylong bowel prep, in which neighbors a block away had to light scented candles.

Speaking of stink, I hope I no longer have to smell adult diapers. Not used ones. I'm talking about the chemical scent of unused ones. I've developed a Pavlovian response to it. Why can't diapers come in different scents like everything else? Maybe lavender or pomegranate. My nether region might have benefited from aromatherapy.

Diapers did make my life easier -- they're not just for astronauts anymore. Booster pads also were great, although they made me think of booster seats for kids.

Well, I guess this is enough TMI for one day. Please don't feel sorry for me. I'm on morphine, and chances are, you're not.