Saturday, November 12, 2011

Ultimate Urine Victory

Ultimate Urine Victory

(TMI incoming for the faint of heart.)

Just over a month ago, when I had the first of my several little stokes, I barely noticed the fist catheter going in, when I was in the emergency room, except as notice that my stay would not likely be short. It stayed for about 8-10 days.

definitely noticed when the first one was removed.It was... uncomfortable. You may want to wince in sympathy.

At this point, I learned one of the great truths of hospitalisation: catheters happen, and where catheters happen, urinary tract infections also happen. Joy of joys, with the removal of my first catheter, I promptly grew a fever and it was determined that I had a UTI. A course of antibiotics later and the infection was no more.

Now by this time I was done with the active stroke-having and the majority of the testing, I was mobile-ish with a walker and able to pee. Theoretically. The reality was different: you see, peeing meant either being half-carried to a horrid hospital bathroom with no lock, or using a ghastly plastic jug urinal thing with an unfinished and rather sharp neck.

I was in a wretched position, since the probability of being interrupted while in the lavatory approached 1, and the sharpness and general insalubrity of the urinal was an absolute inhibitor. Not normally pee-shy, I found myself unable to meet the doctor-imposed deadline of pee or it's the catheter again!

Enter catheter #2.I noticed that one.

I protested mightily and to no avail, and in the meantime was promoted out of the 4-bed stroke critical care unit to a glorious single room. When #2 finally came out, and I was again given a deadline to pee or be damned, I figured the additional privacy would help my addled brain, as would the copious amounts of water I was encouraged to down.

Sadly, I was mistaken. If anything I was interrupted more, and once by a PCA who wandered in and casually took my blood pressure while I was on the can. Small wonder that it was higher than usual. In any case, my not-too-distant ability to drink seven or eight pints before needing to pee did not serve me well, and a new pleasure awaited before catheter #3: the dreaded straight catheter. This is pretty much what it sounds like, a simple tube that goes in, allows the pee to flow, and is then removed.

I produced more than twice what the average human bladder contains, and overflowed the measuring bucket that comes with the straight catheter. Indignity heaped upon indignity!

Enter catheter the third and an honest-to-Bacchus urologist. The latter determined that the third full-on tube should stay in for a good three days too give my, by now, much abused urethra and bladder a bit of R&R, whereafter I should be on a regimen of regular straight catheterisation, until I could pee normally. I was determined that this ultimate sanction should never come to pass.

For one thing I was pretty sure that I was peeing normally for me, if they'd only bugger off and let me do my thing. For another this would have meant either days of self-imposed excruciation or a catheter on a plane, something I did not want.

Fortunately, through an exercise of will worthy of a Bhoddisatva, I produced all the necessary urine voluntarily, and then some.I was not quite home free, alas. One single holdout doctor would not give me clearance. It turns out that most bladders retain a bit of pee after going; there was a distinct possibility I was retaining a lot more, and that would be symptomatic of a real problem. 

Alone among her male colleagues, she insisted on thoroughness, and I cannot for an instant begrudge her the transitory discomfort that the men in the room sought incorrectly to spare me. 

Cue catheter #4, to be used directly after peeing, to fully drain my bladder and thence measure the retention. Over 200mL, and the catheter would not be removed this side of the Atlantic. It was a tense moment only barely alleviate bu an extraordinary informational pamphlet in the style of a greetings card that came with the catheter set. Its true glory cannot be described.

I passed the final tube test, and have been a veritable Niagara now the pressure's off. Hurrah! You may now uncross your legs.

If there is a moral, it is this: train yourself to have a weak damn bladder!

P.S To the G+ contingent, Yes, I am enjoying the gentle irony of this post appearing in your stream.

(You can see the card here.)