Return of the Man-Bag

CatheterIt’s back. The loathsome urinary catheter has returned. Yes, after celebrating it’s demise on October 14 it has come back to torture me for another two weeks. Here’s why:

The prostate is located directly below the bladder. The urinary tract runs from the base of the bladder, through the middle the middle of the prostate and down to the penis. (It’s fun reading the word ‘penis’ in my posts, isn’t it?) My prostate was removed and the urinary tract was reconnected directly to the base of the slightly lowered bladder. The suture point is where the urinary tract meets the bladder and therein lay my problem. The tract is slightly overtightened to ensure it doesn’t lead to incontinence but it can also tighten a bit more during the healing process. This cuts the flow of urine from the bladder and leads to many sleepless nights peppered with repeated trips to the bathroom and a fair amount of pain. The fun begins.

The problems began on Wednesday as the urine flow began to diminish. By Friday night it had stopped completely and I couldn’t sleep at all (not one minute!) so I visited our local hospital emergency on Saturday morning. After a urine test I was advised that I had a urinary tract infection (wrong!). Antibiotics were prescribed and, after 3 and a half hours in emergency, was sent home. Things didn’t change much that night and I had little sleep and lots of pain. I returned to emergency on Sunday afternoon and spent a fun-filled 4 and a half hours waiting to see a doctor. He prescribed Percocet for the pain and sent me home with the understanding I would see my doctor on Tuesday (when the urine test results were available). The fun continues.

On Monday I was still having severe pain and little or no ‘action’ so I called my urologist but he, like a good majority of other specialists, wasn’t immediately available so I made an appointment to see him at the end of the week and contacted my GP to wrangle an appointment for Tuesday. My G.P. Dr. Dominick Kelly is, in my opinion, a great doctor and doesn’t piss about when it comes to healthcare. He asked me a number of questions and immediately sent me to emergency at the same hospital where my surgery was performed (my Urologist’s office is less than a block away and he performs the majority of his surgeries there so Dr. Kelly considered Burnaby Hospital the best bet if my urologist was needed). Unfortunately my urologist wasn’t immediately available so the attending doctor directed a male nurse to insert a urinary catheter. Not a good idea.

My Urologist later informed me that non-specialists that insert a urinary catheter in post-radical prostectomy patients hit the suture point where the urinary tract meets the bladder and assume they’ve struck the top of the bladder. They inflate the small balloon that holds the catheter in place within the bladder and wait for a stream of urine. In my case, that didn’t happen. The nurse had inadvertently hit the suture point, assumed it was the top of the bladder and inflated the balloon within my urinary tract. It ruptured the walls of the urinary tract and led to lots of pain, bleeding and nasty four-letter words. Long stringy blood clots formed and made their way out of my pee-pee along with a steady stream of blood. The fun continues.

Dr. John Warner, a fantastic surgeon/urologist/oncologist and a great guy, arrived after some time and proceeded to tell me that all would be well and he would have me on my way within 20 minutes. He was right. A few tubes were inserted to open the constricted urinary tract connection to the bladder and a spiffy new catheter was inserted to torture me until next week when it will be removed and another catheter inserted. This will be in for another week at which point it will be removed. The fun ends. Hopefully.

I took a short video of the examination room scene during my visit to emergency which you can view below. The situation got a bit worse shortly after I shot this but my hands were covered with blood at that point and I didn’t want to cover my phone with goo. Nice, huh? Think ‘My Lai massacre‘ and you’ll get a sense of how the examination room looked before it was cleaned up by a nurse and housekeeping attendant. The video below ain’t pretty but might help someone that’s having the same issues and ensure that they’re slightly more educated than I was going in to this and be able to avoid the problems I had. And educate a doctor and nurse in the process.

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