Well, the deed has been done and I am now sans prostate. The last thing I remember before surgery was the anaesthetic being administered at 1pm and thinking about my late parents. It was upsetting to think of my mother and father dying from cancer as I was about to be operated on for the same disease. So I had to make a conscious effort to not think about my parents at the most vulnerable time of my life. That was hard.
When the welcome oblivion of general anaesthetic lifted, I noticed the time: 10pm. I was initially troubled about the length of time I was out – it should not have been nine hours. Apparently there was some issue with my pain management: I vaguely remember regaining consciousness briefly and being in some distress in the recovery room but quickly going back under again. When I came to at 10pm I felt no pain but I was disorientated.
I had always imagined that coming out of a general anaesthetic must be very disorienting and I was right. Losing several hours is disconcerting, not that I would want to have gone through them. After spending a couple of hours under observation in the recovery room, I was brought back to the ward, where I had the best nights sleep in weeks!
On waking the next morning, I was pleased to find I had a patient controlled analgesia attached to my arm – the means by which I would treat myself to frequent doses of morphine for the next day and a half. I had heard great things about morphine and was not disappointed. As well as being an effective painkiller, it gives you a pleasant ‘high’ – the silver lining of major surgery!
The next thing to check was my abdomen and, of course, Horace. Poor Horace! The catheter was in place as expected. What I was not ready for was the sight of a 6mm diameter tube sticking out of his one eye! It looked awful and Horace was horribly bruised and swollen. Surprisingly, though, the catheter did not feel as intrusive as I had expected (probably due to the painkillers).
The day following surgery was okay, thanks mainly to my new best friend: morphine. Getting in or out of bed demanded herculean effort but apart from that there was no pain. I mostly spent the day stoned and drifting in and out of sleep. The medical team was around early and Dr. Galvin told me the surgery had gone well. He managed to remove all that he needed to while leaving nerve endings to the right of my prostate largely intact. It is these nerves I will rely on to achieve an erection, eventually. I needed a lot of pain medication during surgery so that accounted for my feeling so out of it now. Dr. Galvin said I would be coming off the intravenous morphine the next day and switching to an oral version. Apparently the good stuff can cause constipation and the next signs of recovery the team will be looking for are farting and shitting!
Grace was to come in to the hospital to see me the next day so I was happy enough to abandon my NBF in the interest of having a clear head for my daughter’s visit. I was a little worried that she may be freaked out by seeing me laid up, with tubes sticking out of me and me carrying a bag of my piss around like a macabre handbag. As always, though, Grace was cool about everything. There is an old head on her 6-year-old shoulders and she seemed barely even curious about my condition, thankfully.
I started walking around the hospital more, on Dr. Galvin’s advice. I’m a bit shaky on my feet and get weak and dizzy easily. So trips are kept short and close to the hand rails that are everywhere in hospitals. I’m also to drink as much water as I can, to flush out the system. Luckily, I can drink quite a bit so the nurses are kept busy emptying my catheter. I have to say, I really do not like wearing one! While it wasn’t particularly uncomfortable at first, it is starting to get so now and I am counting the days to Friday 10th November, when I get it removed.
I said it before and I’ll say it again – you’d be amazed what you can be grateful for. Even something as routine as taking a piss is a thing of great beauty when you can’t do it!
What seems most unfair about a catheter is, contrary to what I expected, I still fee the need to ‘go’ all the time, even though the urine is constantly draining out of me. I can spend the day watching my bloody urine filling a bag but I don’t get the sensation of relief from having a normal slash. At one point, I tried applying a little pressure, to see if I had any control at all. It hurt like hell so I won’t be trying that again in a hurry!
Another inconvenience of the catheter is the tube gets airlocked. So I have to keep lifting it up to allow the urine to drain. A few times, the flow went the wrong way – a very unpleasant sensation! The catheter I go home with will be different and designed to be mobile. So hopefully I can have a relatively normal life while I have it. I don’t think the other diners would thank me for sorting out my airlocks in the restaurant!
Overall, despite considerable discomfort, my sojourn in The Mater is pretty good. It is a relief to have the first phase of my treatment behind me. The recovery is next and I’m looking forward to it.