Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Stream of consciousness

When I got out of bed this morning, I took down a big sign with a red numeral 2 above my headboard and replaced it with a sign with a big 3.

The sign marks the number of nights that have passed since my last bed-wetting incident, or, as I prefer to call it, an e-pee-sode.

Yeah, I wet beds. But before I started wearing catheters less than two weeks ago, I had gone decades without swamping the sheets. (Go on and profile me as a loser, but be aware that Michael Landon, Suzanne Somers and Franklin Delano Roosevelt are all renown bed-wetters, and that groups of proud bed-wetters are everywhere on Facebook.)

Before my recent spate of accidents, you'd have to reach back to the LBJ administration to find an incident where I've lost control of my bladder.

When I was 8, my third-grade teacher Mrs. Kios had me riveted to my seat by her reading of "Old Yeller" to our class. As soon as Mrs. Kios closed the book, I rose to ask permission to leave class to use the rest room, and then immediately rendered my request moot.

Mom had to come to school to pick me up. When I returned to class the next day, I had a brand-new nickname: "Yellow River."

Even though I was blocks away from my bed at the time of that accident, and can't classify it as bed-wetting, the experience taught me a lesson that has resulted in a nocturnal dry spell of more than four decades.

This month, while I hospitalized at Kaiser for surgery, a nurse poked me with a Foley catheter because the effects of anesthesia had impaired my ability to pee. Since I have been sleeping at home, my Foley tube has broken free from the bag once, and on another occasion, I somehow tripped the lever in the bag and soaked my sheets again.

I tried to get the catheter removed on Jan. 21 in Kaiser's Urology Department, but they told me it still wasn't time. If my urologist had to make my bed every morning and launder my sheets, I bet she would have had a different story.

I'm scheduled to return to urology Wednesday morning at 9.

The tricky thing is my urologist gave me a sheet of instructions showing me how to remove the catheter myself.

She wants me to get up at 3:15 Wednesday morning to perform this delicate maneuver, so by the time of my appointment in urology, they'll know whether I did it properly. There is a balloon inflated in my bladder, you see, so I have to chop off a valve to deflate the balloon and then yank it up my urethra.

Tomorrow's appointment, I guess, is to show the urologist that I succeeded in clipping the Foley without permanently mutilating myself.

I've already decided to tell the urologist that I misplaced the instructions she gave me, and ask her to perform the procedure.

She has probably yanked hundreds of balloons out of men's bladders. If I attempted to do it, it would be my first time. I mean, the least she could have done was give me a doll to practice on.

Be my own guinea pig? No, thanks, doc. Whenever I feel like testing my surgical skills, I'll get my Operation game out of the closet.

Everything else, I'll leave to professionals.


  1. I've just spent the last 30 minutes reading your blog (sorry APLA). I am overwhelmed. I catch myself smiling, imagining you standing in front of the city worker that doesn't get it...the gay icon named nurses...the Ben Stiller fans at Kaiser...and most of all you who is so inspiring through this great ordeal that has been thrown your way.

  2. I wouldn't feel bad about reading this blog on APLA's dime. I'm an APLA client, remember? Just charge a portion of your salary to Case Management.

    Thanks for your note, Monica!

  3. Hi Paul!

    I've been keeping up everyday since Dean sent me the link. You are amazing and so entertaining, you make me laugh out loud.

    Something to keep in the back of your mind, in case you need it again, Sit and Sleep makes the BEST waterproof matress covers, don't buy from anywhere else. I learned this from when Marshall was a baby, but I've also discovered more great products since my Dad has been sick, so don't be shy about asking, hopefully you don't need it ever again, but just in case.