No pee, mo’ problems

This entry has to do with catheters, which I find to be one of the most cringeworthy topics imaginable. You might want to skip it and read Calvin and Hobbes instead.

Still here? Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

On Thursday afternoon, a few hours after my surgery, it became apparent that I had no urge to pee. The nurse seemed concerned, but I didn’t see what the problem was. Sometimes I go a few hours without peeing.

She left the room and came back with a special ultrasound scanner designed to detect fluid in the bladder. I asked the Complementary Spouse and my parents to leave as she pressed the device into my crotch. Finally, it beeped a few times.

750 milliliters, she said.

Is that a lot, I asked.

The bladder is only supposed to hold 300 milliliters, she explained. And the only way to get the urine out was to use a straight-line catheter.

Now, let me tell you this: I have already dreaded catheterization. Even the word makes me shudder and elevates my heart rate. When I see ads for catheters on teevee, I always change the channel.

I was right to wince. The catheterization was exactly as I imagined it would be, but somehow also about 1,000 times worse. I moaned in pain as the tube was inserted, and all throughout the removal of the urine. Even when the tube was removed, I could still feel it in there.

That night, I still couldn’t pee. And that required a second straight-line catheterization. And it was just as bad as the first.

This is the portable plastic urinal they gave me at the hospital. Notice how it’s unused.

On Friday, I still couldn’t pee. As a matter of policy, they don’t do three straight-line catheterizations. That meant that my third catheter was a foley catheter, which is meant to be inserted and stay in for a period of time. This was even more painful, and I had to stifle yells as it went in. Once it was in, I didn’t move in the bed at all. Every shift in position hurt.

So, now we’re looking at a total of three catheterizations over a day. But that number was incorrect. As the nurse pointed out, I was also catheterized during the surgery. No wonder my penis had started to look a little bruised.

Early Saturday morning, the foley catheter was removed. I felt great. I walked briskly around the hospital floor, pushing my IV around with me. I waited for the urge to pee. And it never came.

By this time, my surgeon’s medical partner had stopped by to check in, and told me that I would need to see a urologist. And, fortunately, he said that he had just passed a urologist in the hall. He explained that I might need to be discharged with a foley catheter, and have it removed a few days after I get home. I was also prescribed Flomax, a medication designed to help old men with enlarged prostates pee.

My heart sank. Having a catheter for a few minutes or a few hours was one thing, but having one for a few days filled me with fear. I tried everything to pee, including running my hand under the faucet. Finally, the deadline came and passed. I got a catheter, was discharged, and went home.

I wish I could report that the the terrible sensation of catheterization goes away after a day or two. It does not. I’m walking gingerly, as to try to minimize movement in my crotch. I have a small bag for urine strapped to my leg.

I got in touch with the urologist’s office this morning, and the earliest he can see me is Thursday morning. That means I’ll have this catheter for three more days. This has plainly been the worst part of my entire recovery.

I wish I had a happier ending to this post, but there isn’t one. I’m not sharing any pictures, so that’s a good thing.

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