I woke up this morning to a 5am alarm set on my iPhone. I always have my alarm clock ring tone play the same tune, Telluride, because I find it peaceful. If this makes sense, I find it non-alarming. I don’t care for abrupt wake-ups. You can play a clip from the link above and tell me that’s not a smooth wake-up tune. Per pre-surgery instructions, I showered. I even shaved. That was not an instruction but thought I’d over-achieve today. I couldn’t drink coffee – brutal – but was able to read the WSJ before arriving to the surgery center at 6am. Routine acts as a diversion for me. Oddly enough, I even slept well. Not something I’ve done in several months.
Karen sat with me during the hour-long prep. Nurse Carol expertly inserted and taped off my IV. And Carol did what I love; she fully set my expectations for everything that would come next. I’m one of those people who need to know the why along with the what. Gives me a chance to improve whatever instructions I am being given. Doubtful I would have done well in the military. My Urologist, Anesthesiologist, Pharmacist, and perhaps others, all stopped by at some point as part of their role in today’s big show. At 7:15, Carol wheeled me into the operating room.
I recall shifting myself onto the operating table and chatting for a few minutes of light conversation. Suddenly, I was talking to another nurse in the recovery center. But I didn’t just wake up. Apparently I’d been awake for awhile and talked to Dr. Webster, my Urologist. To me, I felt like I just woke up. Imagine though, waking up in the middle of a conversation. Because that’s what I did. I almost understand that, if my memory only goes back that far. But I recall the sensation of waking up in the middle of speaking a sentence. Very strange.
I went into full Q&A mode and stubbornly took several minutes to comprehend that not only did I complete my surgery in three and a half hours, but I’d been in the recovery room for a good hour as well. I don’t remember much of this scene, other than the nurse’s name was Lisa. Lisa had Shayne. No Sean. No Jamie. Fuck. Lisa had some guy transport me to my hospital room where I am now. One of the odd thoughts I had going into surgery was wondering if people dream while under anaesthesia. If I did, I don’t remember.
Just as well I don’t have even a thread of memory, because surgery really is just a transition to the next phase – recovery. Surgery was Scottie beaming me up into this hospital room. I probably shouldn’t get my hopes up but recovery is going quite well so far. I expected abdominal pain but would list it more in the discomfort category. I did have a fairly acute pain episode a few minutes before Karen and Ellie stopped by for a dinner visit. Let me see if I can describe this without being overly crude.
My pain felt like it does when you’re watching a super long movie at the theater, and you don’t want to go to the restroom because you don’t want to miss anything. The pain builds up to the point you can’t hold it anymore. When you finally try to release a stream of urine, letting it go hurts almost as much as it did holding it in. And instead of a smooth stream, the flow is spasmodic. If you’re not an idiot like me, then this has never happened to you. But if you have experienced this, it’s the closest description I can give to my pain episode. Except this was more intense and rapidly accelerating to an intolerable level.
Understand that I can’t actually urinate right now. Probably not for another week or two. My urethra was sliced off from my bladder. It was stitched back in place and until it heals I will be urinating through a foley catheter in my bladder. Urinating might not be an accurate term since I won’t be controlling the flow. It will just flow – unimpeded until it catches in the foley bag hanging to the side of my industrial bed.
This pain episode was perhaps from a combination of that catheter piped into my bladder via my urethra and some confused muscles not letting the stream flow. I don’t really know. Maybe I have a phantom prostate attempting to hold back the flow until I can get up to walk to the bathroom. Muscle memory from a time I still had dignity and believed pissing in a urinal is what civilized men do.
This pain attack had unfortunate timing because my dinner had arrived and I was famished. Naturally I couldn’t eat in this condition. Thankfully, Nurse Lisa walked in and helped me out. Like Master Po imbuing wisdom upon young Grasshopper, Lisa told me to relax. This analogy is not too far off – trust me. Relaxing through gut wrenching pain is hardly intuitive. I did though and it worked immediately. My foley bag began to fill. Monitoring my foley bag is one of my new tools for diagnosing pain over the next two weeks.
Surgery and Day One of recovery is winding down. I haven’t needed any pain medication since arriving to my hospital room. I’m happy with that because I have an irrational fear of any drugs that can be associated with Rush Limbaugh. I am receiving Toradal every six hours. This is an anti-inflammatory that I suspect is working well to keep down the pain. I can tell you I am being treated by extremely outstanding professionals at the Longmont United Hospital. My day-shift Registered Nurse Paul is unbelievable. It’s like this married-with-no-kids, telemark skiier reads my mind. He feeds my penchant for detailed explanations with copious morsels of explanatory information. I got lucky with him.
I just returned from my first walk and saw some high school photos my friend Cynthia facebooked to me. Literally tons of pics I’ve never seen before. Nearly cried. Seriously, all the response I’ve had on facebook has meant so much to me. I haven’t advertised this much and I’ve kept it out of my running blog. Wrong genre, I started this new blog. And I’ve only been publishing it to a small private facebook group rather than the half dozen social mediums I use to distribute my running exploits. If you know me though, I’m not shy. I’m just not posting content that my friends might not be asking to see.
Last detail. Nurse Sandy says I did the biggest post-prostectomy walk she’s ever seen. And the nurses can’t get over the fact that not only do I not need oxygen, but my oxygen rate is 99% for what they call in-room air. I’m on the road to recovery.