Wednesday, October 25, 2006


So after the harrowing PEG insertion surgery, they wheeled me into recovery, where they said I could have morphine as desired. That was good, because the hole they'd cut in my abdomen was starting to hurt. I am not sure, but I bet I had two doses (I think they were 4 mL) within the first half hour, then two more at half-hour intervals.

They wheeled me out of recovery and into a room somewhere in there. My nurse was a man.

Then I was proud of myself for waiting 90 minutes until having morphine at 3:00 PM. I had another at 4:30. I was again proud that by 6:30, when I wanted to go to sleep, I told the new nurse, also a man, that I'd like some as a precaution before I slept, and when he asked whether I wanted 4 mL or 2, I said 2.

But I hadn't urinated since the operation. He said that morphine sometimes plays tricks on the GI systems. Around 9:00 PM this became a big concern for him, when he did a portable ultrasound on my bladder and said that it had about 700 mL in it. He said it might burst, leading to way more medical intervention.

The stay in the hospital was physically uncomfortable. Because of how weak I am, plus the new wound, I lay on my back the whole time. My butt hurt, and my head hurt, not from a headache, but from muscle strain, from having my head jammed all up in them strange-ass pillows, me trying to turn it from side to side to adjust myself and get comfortable.

The last thing I wanted was more medical intervention. The nurse said my bladder might burst if they did not put a straight catheter in my urethra, to drain the bladder. I don't know where, but I read somewhere years ago the opinion of someone who'd had a urethral cath that you should never let anyone put a tube up your penis no matter how dire the circumstances. I gather that it hurts. Fortunately my kind and loving wife was with me the whole time except in the operating room. She fetched a pad and pen for me many times. I wrote: "No morphine, no IV, no cath." They had been hydrating me via IV all day, presumedly filling my bladder.

The nurse told me that his advice as a medical professional was that I needed a cath. "I've been hurt already today," I wrote. It had been torture, and I felt awful. So how about a heaping helping of penis pain radiating muscle spasms up your abdomen to the wound? But the nurse also respected my refusal, gave me the plastic jug to pee in, and said he'd check on me when his shift ended at midnight.

So if I didn't pee by midnight, they were going to torture me again. But if I stuck to my guns too well, I might wind up with a burst bladder, hurting myself and further tormenting my dear wife.

So I asked to see the cath. I hoped for something smaller than angel-hair pasta, so flexible that it came in loop. After all, I reasoned, once you get it in there and start releasing urine, time is on your side, so it doesn't matter if you only get a tiny, thin stream.

What he showed me was as thick as a knitting needle. Sure, it was rubbery, but not squishy. It was red. And it had some kind of bulb on the end that looked to me like a barb.

So if I didn't pee by midnight, they were going to torture me. My courageous wife was given a fold-out cot. I am so grateful to you, darling, for being there with me the whole time. You are my ally and friend, my mate.

I must have dozed. I woke around 11:40 PM with the urge to pee. I got out 200 mL, as measured by the marks on the jug. My darling wife woke to my call and showed the jug to the nurse. That was good but no more would come. I was tired and wanted to sleep. But I was also aware that insurance companies want you out of the hospital stat, which is why in the maternity unit the staff bang the door open, flip on the lights, and start talking to you loudly and rapidly -- just as though it weren't 3 AM and two exhausted parents weren't sleeping with a newborn.

The nurse had said he'd check on me when his shift ended at midnight. So, to protect myself from the ambush effect, I waited until 12:15 and then went to sleep.
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