Simple Gift #1:
OMG. What a difference a real shower makes!!
The nurses wouldn’t let me take a shower with the dressing over my drain outlets (even though it’s covered in plastic), so I asked the surgeon as he discharged me and he said it wouldn’t be a problem. So this morning, just to be extra protective, I grabbed a gallon Ziploc bag, taped it over my abdomen where the dressing was, and stood under hot, streaming water for about 15 minutes. Heaven.
Simple Gift #3:
Sleep in my own bed.
My first night home was a good one. It was a lot easier to figure out what to do with my drainage bags that I thought it would be. I just created a little nest with an old towel on the mattress beside me, and the tubes leading to the bags are long enough where it worked out just fine. (These bags operate on a vacuum system and don’t rely on gravity to drain, so they bags can be at the same level as my pelvis.)
I was able to sleep quite soundly and only ran to the bathroom twice in the middle of the night compared to about once every 60-90 minutes in the hospital (I guess without the IV fluids, there was less to void.)
A great rendition of the old Shaker song:
Finally, I think I hit one of my lowest moments in this whole experience a couple of nights ago in the hospital.
I had turned out the lights at 10 PM and managed to fall into a deep sleep very quickly. The urge to pee hit me, so I started my 10-step process to get to the commode. When I got to step six, stand up, I instantly started filling my diaper with one of the hardest and strongest streams that I had felt since being admitted. And it kept on to the point where the diaper overflowed and pee was running down my leg onto the tile floor and my little hospital booties. And there wasn’t a damn thing I could do about it. Nothing.
I called the nurse and she got me and the room cleaned up. When I looked at the clock, I was astonished to see that it was 10:50 PM. I had only slept 50 minutes when this happened.
About two hours later, the urge hit again. I vowed not to have a repeat experience and made it to the bathroom.
Just as I sat on the commode–and before I could get “things” aimed in the right direction, the damn burst again and I’m peeing on my hand, the toilet seat, in the bowl, on the floor.
That was it. That was the low point of this whole experience.
The nurse was extremely compassionate and listened attentively as I vented my anger and frustration. She reminded me that the pockets of infected fluid were putting so much pressure on my bladder that it’s no wonder that I couldn’t control it.
At one point during one of the episodes, I barked out, “Where the hell is all this coming from??” She reminded me about the IV fluids being introduced into my body as one source. The next morning, she talked to the doctor and, because the fever had broken, he agreed to take me off the IV fluids altogether. That helped considerably.
In the day that I’ve been out of the hospital, the incontinence issues have been only minor–occasional stress squirts–so I hope the days of peeing down my leg are well behind me. I think they are.
When telling the surgeon about this, he said that guys don’t realize that the weeks after the catheter being removed is the worst part of the whole experience. He described what most go through, and based on his description of where most guys are at at this point, I really do feel as though I’m ahead of the curve.
Still, he said that regaining continence is like riding a sine curve–there will be ups and downs.
I just want to be confident that I’m not going to stand up in a staff meeting and have a major incident, or that I’ll have enough time to walk between my office and the nearest men’s room. I’m not sure when that will be. Soon, I hope.