14. Hasta la vista Catheter and hello to just as bad


Today was the most excited I had been for a long time. It was sad that this is what I would glean a glimmer of happiness from in my current situation but beggars and all that. This was the day me and the catheter were officially going to part company.

They mentioned in the last seminar at Guys that there is a slim chance that you might have to keep it in for a while longer if you didn’t retain enough in your bladder, which would mean the new joint between your urethra and bladder had not fully healed. I however was having none of it. This was a bad girlfriend that you just found out collected hunting knives for a hobby and sleeps in a coffin. Bon voyage, sayonara and adios sucker.

In my haste to leave the house however, I had packed the cheap grey Primark sweat bottoms I had purchased as something I would only wear in the house (when we didn’t have visitors) as my ‘emergency’ trousers. I was horrified that I could have made such a mistake – what would my public say if they saw me in those things? The ‘emergency’ trousers are just in case you have an accident at the hospital and needed to change. I didn’t know which was worse, wetting myself on the train or having to wear these greys back home like I was a jobseeker or student. Hopefully it would come to neither.  Anyway, I was hugely positive today and nothing was going to spoil my joy. Today was also Amaris’ graduation ceremony from primary school to secondary school. They even do one for end of nursery now. What’s next a graduation from the womb ceremony? Or how about babies first solid dump ceremony? I had missed Lauren’s graduation ceremony as it was so far away and I still had the catheter fitted at the time so I was determined to attend this one.

After about twenty minutes or so I was ushered into one of the small medical rooms by a nurse. She introduced herself and said that she would be looking after me today and the first thing she would be doing was removing the catheter.

Really?? No, I was not ready, it wasn’t time yet. Surely I needed another week with it, even a few more days?

I didn’t even get to be a little naughty with it. That neighbour, with the large collection of flower pots that I never liked and was always giving me grief. Well perhaps I just so happened to need to tie my shoelaces by her favourite plant. One tiny tap becomes undone and then blam. That plant would either grow twenty feet overnight (and you can come and thank me) or shrivel and die a horrible death within the hour (and that was nothing to do with me).

I couldn’t contain my joy. I got my kit off faster than being given a ten minute conjugal visit twenty years into a life sentence and sat bottomless on the bench. This was going to be a much happier occasion than the last time I got my kit off in a room in Guys hospital. She attached a needle to a small tap on the side of the catheter and drew out the water. We waited about five seconds then there was an audible ‘pop’ which I felt and surprised me. She then told me to take a deep breath and exhale as she was going to put the tube out.

Now as you know if anyone in Guys hospital tells you that something is either not going to hurt or to take a deep breath and relax, not much good can ever come of it.

I braced myself.

Oh my word!

I had no idea I could and would ever scream so loud, hard and at such a high sustained pitch.

Think of someone dragging blunt barbed wire through the Kings eye….

What came out of me was a blood curdling scream they would censor even on ‘Game of Thrones’.

Somebody outside (if there was still anyone in the waiting room after the initial scream – I would have headed for the bus stop sharpish that’s for sure) would either be calling an ambulance, the police, RSPCA or a priest for an exorcism.

Nah not really 😊

That foot long McDonalds straw actually slid out painlessly and with surprising ease. Despite my firm belief the Kings eye would be ruined or permanently disfigured at best I watched the eye slowly and peacefully close back to normal.

Hoorah for the King. Hoorah!

She gave me a nappy (or pad to use the technical term) to wear and instructed me to drink four cups of water within the next fifteen minutes and she would do a scan in half an hour to see how much I had retained. I found a seat near to the water cooler and took out my newspaper and just drank away. When I finished the newspaper I went onto the sudoku and then finally my book. It had been over half an hour and I decided to get another drink. I stood up and took two steps towards the cooler for the next round of drinks.

I never reached the water cooler.

As I stood I felt the pad rapidly begin to fill. I could not stop the flow or even slow it down. When the prostate is removed one of the two valves men have in their bodies that controls the flow of urine is also removed. The pelvic floor muscle has to be exercised to replace this function.

I just stood in my tracks and wet myself uncontrollably. I was horrified. All the progress that I had made up to this point was forgotten and out of the window. The success of catching this cancer early, the success of the surgery all meant nothing, all irrelevant. When it stopped I just sat back in my chair absolutely defeated and deflated. I stared blankly at the wall. The pad was sodden, heavy and I needed to change it but the shock rooted me to the chair.

Eventually the nurse called me back in and asked me if I had finished the water. I said I had and added that it had all come back out again and sat blankly. She actually said that was good and she did an ultrasound examination on my bladder. She said she was happy with what she was seeing and gave me another pad to change into. I had to drink some more water and she would call me back in again in a little while. I didn’t understand why she was happy but I was completely on autopilot and also didn’t care.

I quietly drank some more water as instructed and felt it pretty much come right back out in a short space of time afterwards. My phone had vibrated a number of times but I wasn’t interested. When she did call me back in she could see it was a much more forlorn version of the upbeat and happy person she had first seen and spoken too. She tested me again and actually said she was happy with my progress and I would be going home soon. I sat confused and upset. I thought that I had utterly failed. She rubbed my shoulder and said that it would take time but it would be fine. It was nothing personal but I didn’t believe her. I don’t know what I was expecting of today but it wasn’t this. Eventually she packed me off with two packs of pads and told me that a delivery of pads would be sent to me  directly. Finally she reassured me that it would be alright.

I made a point to stop drinking fluids early on in the afternoon, despite being told the complete opposite. I wanted to try and slow the flow during Amaris’ graduation ceremony. The actual ceremony would only be an hour or so but I didn’t want to have an accident or need to have to get up and change the pad during the ceremony. I hid the discomfort well as I leaked throughout the ceremony albeit at a slower rate.  Amaris won one of the main awards for ‘Best Achiever’ and I cheered like a crazy person (leaking on the way up out of my seat and all the way back down). We mingled with the other parents and teachers and stayed for drinks and nibbles afterwards. I managed to make myself a little unpopular, with the other parents, by hogging the single adult toilet in the school hall while I was perfecting my external changing routine but hey. It was a good evening and it took my mind off my immediate predicament, even if only for a little while.

The kids were staying over at their grandmothers so it was just me and Annette on the fifteen minute journey way back to my mum’s house.

It all came back with a savage vengeance.

Every time we hit a speed bump, no matter how slow we took it I leaked. Coming to a stop at a traffic light, I leaked. Every time the car turned or slowed down, I leaked. Finally as we pulled up outside my mum’s and came to a halt I leaked even more.

I was exhausted and even though I had no reason to, I felt utterly useless and pathetic.

Silently I just stared blankly out of the windscreen. About a minute later, for only the second time since I had been diagnosed, tears welled and fell out of one eye and then the other. I was in as much control of them as I had been with the leaking. I just let it silently happen. A couple of minutes later I took some deep breaths and sighed, wiping my face.

Eventually I straightened up, shook my head. It never happened. I moved on.

I walked up to my mum’s door and opened it.

I didn’t look back.



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