Wednesday, January 21, 2009

I'm still, like, totally tubular

The No. 1 priority for me this morning, if you'll pardon the expression, was shedding my Foley catheter.

My Foley catheter is the freshest and least admired of my three tubes. It was installed early Saturday morning while I was hospitalized because I was reaching for the urine bottle every five minutes but could barely eke out more than a drop of pee at a time.

The nurse told me that morning she would do an ultrasound of my bladder, and if the scan showed that I was retaining more than 200 ml of fluid, they would remove it with a tube. According to the ultrasound, my bladder was holding 1600 ml of fluid.

The nurse performed what she called an "in and out," and then she left me alone so she could tend to the needs of my new roommate, another cancer patient who had just been wheeled into the room following surgery.

Barely minutes after the fluid was extracted, I had to pee again, so the nurse called my doctor, who ordered the Foley catheter.

If Frederick Foley were alive today, I would dash off a thank-you note to him for his clever invention. But following one bona fide accident in bed on Sunday night, and a close call in the front seat of a friend's car on Monday morning, I was eager to flush the Foley out of my life.

On Tuesday, Kaiser's urology department called to schedule the removal of the catheter, and initially gave me an appointment two weeks away. A friend who is serving as my liaison with Kaiser e-mailed me to find out if he should try to get the appointment moved up, and I shot back, "Heck yes!"

My friend pulled off another miracle for me, getting me into urology the first slot this morning.

The visit was action-packed from the get-go. It began with a prostate exam, then the Foley catheter was removed, and then the nurse practitioner shot water into my bladder to see how successfully I eliminated it on my own.

I didn't do so well. So I got a brand-new Foley catheter and was told to come back in a week.

The lesson learned today is that I can't hasten the healing process. If I need to keep a tube in my bladder and drag around a plastic bag of pee for another seven days, there's no shortcut to completing that process sooner.

I just have to be patient, and to focus on the biggest challenge: treating and beating my cancer.

By the way, my friend whose car barely escaped a Katrina-sized Foley disaster on Monday morning suggests that I look into buying a set of rubber sheets.

I don't think he is joking.

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