Hospital Experience III


I would like to thank you for reading my blog.  Your comments, publicly and privately, have kept me motivated during this down time.  Let’s press on.

In case you missed the accident post

part I 

part II 

When I last left you  I was having trouble urinating.  Nurse Shannon impressed upon me the importance of urinating.  If she didn’t have 350 ml of urine during her shift then I wouldn’t be allowed to go home.  The clock was now ticking… against me.

Over the years as my dedication to cycling and my mileage increased many of the things I used to do on my free time were put on the back burner.  My free time waned as I moved through the stages of recreational bike rider (read occasional rider), avid cyclist, enthusiast cyclist and eventually to an Ultra Cyclist.  Cycling is a very time intensive sport. You can easily loose 4-6 hours of productivity in your day but gain the intangibles of mental clarity, stress relief and physical fitness.  Many of the hobbies I had before cycling have become a thing of the past.  I have joked with my friends and said, “I used to _________ but that was BC” BC- before cycling.
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You might recall from my last post that I was unable to eat my breakfast.  It had been more than 24 hours since my last meal — a protein shake.  I drank my juice and had a scant amount of oatmeal which I promptly threw up during my two PT visits.  As the hours passed my stomach came back online. I ordered lunch and consumed it zestfully.  The cart arrived.  The main course – macaroni and cheese, the cheese was delightfully browned from the center giving way to the caramel colored brunt edges – just the way I like it, bread rolls in individual baggies with frozen butter, oh why can’t I can’t I have soft butter, and mixed vegetables that, surprisingly, were not overcooked.  Am I really in a hospital?  Compliments to the chef, serveur! I had been drinking juices and water moderately up until that point.

I starting to feel my bladder expanding. A nice compliment to my pleasantly full stomach…finally.  I thought I must be ready to urinate. I reached for the bed pan set myself up and I waited…and waited…and nothing.  I was having performance anxiety of a different type. The nurse checked in on me and again I handed her an empty bottle.

She informed me that the surgeon was concerned.  His concern would lead to my torture at the hands of the pleasant nurse Shannon.  The next thing she said made me shudder, “….Catheter”.  Few words can put the fear of God in you like that one word.  Can you say shrinkage?

I use to take lots of pictures of landscapes and I enjoyed it.  Notice I didn’t dare call myself a photographer.  This was during the age of the SLR and print film. Do you remember those days?  Buying film in 24 or 36 exposure.  Counting each shot you took.  Ensuring that each picture was perfectly in focus and composed just right.  Now in the digital age we shoot pictures indiscriminately without regard to quantity or quality.  Today a picture can be taken with your “Smartphone”,  a word that didn’t even exist in the dictionary back in 1987!  I enjoyed the process of scouting locations or interesting people and I would frame the results.  I still have a few photos from those days – framed and on my walls.  This is one of my favorites. But that was BC.
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Taken when I was in Egypt on a plateau that overlooked the Great Pyramids.
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The Greeks are famous for saying everything in moderation but I don’t think they had to fear a catheter.  Drinking in moderation wasn’t working.  The fear of a catheter was now my new source of motivation to HYDRATE!  I thought about all the times I did long training rides and didn’t hydrate by the “one bottle and hour” rule.  I often go on 6-8 hours rides and not pee once.  I feel fine and finish my rides quite strong with surges and sprints towards the end.  I feared that living in this  chronically dehydrated state had now impacted my ability to pee on command.

With renewed interest and now stress added on top,  I began a more aggressive plan on hydrating.  However, I still had reservations.  What happens if I fill my bladder up and then still can’t urinate?  Wouldn’t that be it’s own torment?  Wouldn’t that be a more serious medical issue?

I used to ride a motorcycle   I’ve had 3 very fast motorcycles (Ninjas and Suzuki’s) from 600-1100 cc.  Yes I was the guy in full black Hein Gericke leathers, Alpine Stars racing boots and blacked-out face shield.  Yes I was also the guy ripping up and down Palomar Mountain that you detest.  I have done some ridiculous things on motorcycles.  Often I would find a stretch of road and open it up!  Full throttle! top Gear! Redline!  150-160 mph on the freeway or if I was lucky enough to find a deserted road I would “PEG IT”. I would take the motorcycle to it’s limits scraping pegs, knees and mufflers on curvy canyon or mountain roads.  The adrenaline coursing through my veins as I laid the bike over just inches from the ground made my body tingle.  I am lucky to have escaped certain death in many situations. Motorcycling taught me to be a great bike handler and a fearless and skilled descender on my human powered bike.  I loved my Sunday mornings on my motorcycle.  But that was BC.

Garden variety catheters

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A few more of my attempts to pee in the bottle had come to naught.  I had stalled nurse Shannon long enough.  She left the room and returned with a packet.  She explained that this must be done because for some reason my body was not working properly.  I was awake but my urinary system was still downstairs in the OR.  Nurse Shannon and I were about to take our relationship to another level.

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If you have never had a catheter you can’t relate.  If you have then I apologize for having you relive with me the discomfort and pain of what I am about to describe.  It was the strangest sensation.  I felt like I was urinating but I wasn’t and it felt all wrong it was all in reverse.  I could see the seemingly harmless, flexible and pliable red tube disappearing into me and I could feel it entering my body now.  When it hit bottom, my bladder, she moved the tube in and out. I felt like I was finally urinating.  I squawked,  “oh good we have something now!” She simply shook her head in a disapproving fashion the way a pitcher signals to his catcher. Shannon then pulled out the catheter and seemed as frustrated as I was.

I used to be a runner.  I loved running.  I ran road.  I ran dirt.  I have done many 5K’s, a few 10K’s and two Half Marathons.  When I was in the Marine Corps I would run the first half of the 5k, required as part of our Physical Fitness Test (PFT),  stop and smoke a cigarette with another Marine named Chris.  We would watch the other Marines suffer as they ran past us at the turnaround point.  Then we would flick the cigarette and finish the second half chasing everyone down striving for a negative split.  We could do 19-20 minute 5K that way or run straight through and max out the points in the test by running sub 18 minutes. I miss Chris he was a good running partner.  I have never run a full marathon …not officially anyway.  But I once ran over 26.2 miles (about 28 miles) in training just so I could say to myself, and no one else, that I could do it.  I was out on a training run and felt great at 21 miles,  “the wall”, people talk about so I kept running.  I never felt the wall.  I don’t know what people mean by that.  I was living in Santee, CA at the time and it was a cool 80 ish F in the morning and well over 100F for my last 5 miles.  It was a 4 hour run through road and dirt and stopping for stop lights.  It was a good run. It was a good day. But that was BC.
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Nurse Shannon returns she has consulted with the surgeon.  She has to try again.  The surgeon hypothesizes that the nurse has put too much lube and that some of it must have plugged the very small opening of the catheter tube.  Wait, that was too much lube?  Are you kidding? I tremble imagining what no lube would feel like.  And then I’m horrified to hear that she will be putting that damn tube in me again.  I tried to urinate on my own but I only have a dribble to show for my intense focus.

Here we go again with the catheter sliding into me.  In and out once she hits bottom and still no flow.  She pulls the tube out and scraps everything.  I’m really concerned now.  She rushes off to call the surgeon.  She returns arms akimbo and says if I don’t start flowing soon we will have to resort to more extreme measures. She smiles but I sense the urgency in her voice.  I’m not sure what qualifies as extreme measures put that damn catheter up my !@#$ was pretty damn extreme lady! My refractory urinary system is putting me through hell!

I hated writing when I was in school.  I enjoyed just one writing class in college, just one.  All my other classes were a chore.  They were work and requirements for my degrees.  When I started blogging back in 2004 or 2005, can’t remember, I discovered that writing was actually enjoyable.  If I could choose the subject matter I wanted to write about then it was fun.  Devoid of the encumbrance of a time schedule or the requisite subject of which I must expound upon my writing became pleasurable. My blog posts allowed me to express my interests.  I felt obliged to divulge the secrets of my successful races.  And more importantly I felt duty-bound to communicate, in significant detail, my failures.

I am now determined to make this happen.  Time and time again I attempt to urinate.  Beads of sweat actually form on my forehead as I concentrate and push with all my might. And then… a dribble.  Then a trickle.  And finally a stream.  It had been 30+ hours since I had last urinated. Each time I had something I would call the nurse into the room.  I was like the anxious student standing at the teacher’s desk waiting to have their paper graded.  I eventually had more than 350 ml for nurse Shannon- always an overachiever.  But there I was each time a little more flow and each a little more proud of my urine in a bottle.  Isn’t that just ridiculous?  But this meant no more catheter evil woman! This straw colored liquid in the graduated vessel meant my freedom!

Staples on my right hip

Thank you for reading my blog.  With my urinary system working discharge was imminent.  Stay tuned for a more pleasurable post about the family and friends  that made my stay enjoyable.

5 thoughts on “Hospital Experience III

  1. OMG George!! you should be a restaurant critic! I really don’t like mac and cheese but you made it sound yummy. I had no idea you were suffering so much with urination!! ouch ouch ouch. ever the trooper you are. well written once again.

  2. Couldn’t help myself. Even though I knew what was going to happen, I read it any how. I had this unique experience myself once from surgery after a motorcycle accident. It was a procedure I never want to repeat.

  3. Pingback: Red Eyed Vireo – broken wing | George's Epic Adventures

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