The Next Day

bullThis picture captures how I feel after waking up today.  Strong as a bull.  I went on a 25 minute walk around the floor.  I finally quit when I noticed the flow in my foley catheter turn from urine to blood.  I probably should not have been left unattended.  Seriously wish I’d brought my Garmin though to record my distance and pace.

I have another catheter to carry around with me too.  It’s called a JP Drain and it collects bodily fluids, mostly blood, from inside my abdomen.  Hard to imagine anything more disgusting than my foley catheter, but this qualifies.  Hoping it will be removed before I return home but that’s iffy at this point in time.

I tried to sleep last night around 10pm.  The pain began increasing though and I didn’t doze off until after 1am, which is when they refreshed my Toradal anti-inflammation medicine in my IV.  I slept soundly until 4am when they came in to mess with me again to record my vitals.  I couldn’t go back to sleep because of my discomfort and finally called my mom when I saw her online presence appear on facebook.  You can’t wake up old people.  They always beat you out of bed.

Pain was a bit of an issue last night but I haven’t needed any pain medication.  Anti-inflammation drugs have been sufficient.  I was a bit disappointed with my nurse last night because she was so quick to offer the pain meds.  Don’t get me wrong, Sandy has been an outstanding nurse.  She’s been great to talk to, although I suspect she might have done her residency with the Marine Corps.  I really admired the way Nurse Paul and tech Lisa performed problem solving yesterday on my foley catheter.  Nurse Paul determined my tube was kinked and Lisa coached me to relax.  They asked me if I wanted pain meds but also performed this due diligence.  And it worked quickly enough to relieve my pain so that I was able to decline the pain meds.  I was trying to perform similar problem solving for my pain last night.  I discovered a kink in my tube but couldn’t fix it without assistance.  My nurse seemed more intent on having me take pain meds than look at other probable causes.  And then she seemed irritated with me when I declined the meds.  I wanted to wait to see if adjusting my foley catheter would show results.

It did relieve the discomfort from my meatus but unfortnately this pain was coming more from my abdomen.  I decided to wait until 1am when I expected the next round of Toradal rather than admit defeat to Nurse Sandy – who was by now in full commando mode.  This speaks to another reason I am avoiding pain meds.  I have half a dozen good reasons.  The first is it’s a game.  I treat a number of life’s mundane tasks as games.  Some people play words with friends; I make a game out of planning meals for the week.  Two or less I lose, three or more I win.  Five is a shutout.  Avoiding these pain meds is just another game and I feel good about beating Nurse Sandy last night.  This might point to my immaturity but it’s my way of maintaining a positive attitude.  Games help me keep score.

Another reason for avoiding the pain meds is that I don’t fully believe in them.  I’m not against medicine at all.  I think it’s great.  And I know I am not at all qualified to have an educated opinion.  But I do have personal opinions nonetheless.  I like the concept of anti-inflammation drugs because they reduce swelling that leads to pain.  That’s smart pain mitigation in my mind.  I believe most of the opioids, like the Demerol they gave me after surgery, only mask pain by fooling the brain.  I don’t like that approach, especially given the potential side effects of opioids.  I prefer the pain mitigation concept behind anti-inflammation drugs.  Besides, I’m just arrogant enough to believe I can fool my own brain.  There is no spoon.

I could go on but I don’t want to sound like some crackpot.  I will admit that part of my reluctance to opioids is playing tough guy.  But that’s part of my game to pretend I’m winning at something.  It’s easy to turn negative in these situations.  People die in hospitals.  It’s a good place to play the rebel.  I’m Paul Newman in Cool Hand Luke.  Steve McQueen in The Great Escape.  Might sound silly but I keep myself entertained. And I believe I do have a positive attitude.

I’ve discovered that people think I’m being negative when I relate my pragmatic views of recovery.  I don’t mean to sound negative but I can see how discussing my next 12 months of side effects can come across as defeating.  I got a kick out a friend trying to coach me last night on facebook to be positive.  I’ll tell you my plan.  I went from 51 years old to at least 81 years old yesterday, in terms of the loss of certain bodily functions.  I’ve never been depressed over this cancer because I have always understood it to be fully curable.  I do have occasional melancholy moments when I consider my next 12 months.  But I understand it’s temporal.  My plan is to drop twenty years over the next month.  That will bring me on par with a 61 year old.  Then I hope to drop a virtual year each month ongoing.  I think this is inline with the NYT story on setting expectations for recovery from a prostatectomy.  I’ve linked that story in an earlier bog post.  I advise reading it.

So my attitude is good.  Dr. Webster should show up in another hour and I fully expect to be released.  I’m a bit irritated with him for not advancing me from a clear liquid diet to the full liquid diet.  Less so for the marginal improvement in food but more to tick off some progress.  Everything is a game to me.  I did coax some coffee from the Nurse’s station.  Not because I’m too cheap to buy it from the kitchen but because I suspected it would be a better tasting brew on the floor.  I was right about that.  Another win.

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