Recently, I had an ultrasound of my bladder and a cystoscopy of my urinary tract, not at the same time mind you (that would be exceptional multi-tasking by the professionals), but one right after the other. It was sort of like a two for one deal, stirrups included. These procedures were necessary because I have had ten, count ‘em ten, urinary tract infections since last July. My urologist, herein referred to as Dr. P (sorry, I couldn’t resist), wanted to make sure that (1) I was emptying my bladder completely; (2) there were no structural issues within the urinary tract itself; and (3) rule out any other nasty stuff going inside the bladder.
During my initial consultation, Dr. P had told me that my bladder was “angry, very angry, it’s so angry that it’s pissed”. I’m not going to lie, this news kind of made me feel like a complete and total badass. I mean, I had already suffered through months and months of the bad swamp water pee (aka UTIs) and it only made sense to me that I got to feel all
badassery badassed badassy because of it. (Spellcheck doesn’t like my badass attempts at making my very own badass words but it’s just going to have to suck it up and accept that this is my story and I get to make up whatever words I like, so there, spellcheck.)
My angry bladder and I agreed to whatever Dr. P suggested at the consultation. While he was explaining things, I was already envisioning myself walking into the operating room with my pissed off bladder just like we owned the joint. In fact, I was already planning my outfit, well, socks and shiny non-skid shoes for the occasion (cold stirrups, remember?). Outfit aside, I was desperate to get to the bottom of my bad swamp water pee and I was willing to do just about anything at that point.
On the day of my procedures, one of the nurses (Nurse 1) told me that my socks matched my hospital gown perfectly. “Why, thank you!” I replied with such pre-cystoscopy gusto, I’m sure she must have thought I had escaped from the psych ward. Clearly, she didn’t know just how badass my bladder was.
I also told her that they were not the socks I had planned on wearing; much to my chagrin, I could not find them anywhere that morning. The best I could offer was a description of the socks.
She loved the idea of my asshole socks and told me that I would still be allowed into the operating room despite the fact that I wasn’t wearing them. She also warned me that it had better not happen again. I hadn’t exactly planned on coming back but, whatever.
Once I was positioned properly in the stirrups, I commented that it had been years since I had been in stirrups. I also added that women have to go through a lot of
shit uncomfortable experiences involving the stirrups over the course of their lifetime. We quickly bonded over that fact and I was feeling all sorts of feminist spiritualism with new my soul sisters. Kumbaya was on the tip of my tongue, I kid you not.
Nurse 1 asked if I would mind if they (the nurses) played a joke on Dr. P. Always up for a good time, even while in the stirrups, I replied “No, not at all. Go for it!” because, well, sisterhood and all that jazz. The nurse happily went off to the corner. After giggling for a bit, she returned with a wee fish made out of surgical tape, coloured pink for my benefit, and stuck it in the middle of the computer screen. She told me that once the cystoscopy began, it would look like the fish was swimming along my urinary tract. I loved it. We named her ‘Trixie’. Kumbaya x 2.
Another nurse (Nurse 2) proceeded with my bladder ultrasound and remarked how I had emptied my bladder quite well. I told her that the secret was to bend forward as far as possible thereby putting pressure on the bladder to empty. She told me that she had often had to do that as well. Nurse 3, the youngest of the group, asked incredulously, “You mean that really works?” which proves that we do learn something new every day. Kumbaya x 3.
Dr. P wasn’t long coming in after that and he asked how I was doing. We had a lovely chat for a bit, my nether region splayed out in full splendour before him but, remember, I was wearing those lovely dress socks and shiny non-skid shoes which I’m sure distracted him from just about everything.
After applying the local anesthetic to my nether region, Dr. P told me he would begin inserting the scope next. That’s when I heard him say, “Oh, oh, we have a problem already.” Apparently, my urethral opening was too narrow to even insert the scope into. Dr. P reassured me that it was an easy fix. While watching the procedure on the computer screen, I couldn’t tell if Dr. P was engaging in some sort of expert Microsoft Word cutting and pasting or if he was drilling for oil, based on the instrument he was using. Of course, I asked him. He replied, “it’s more like drilling as I’m trying to widen the opening”. “Works for me,” I said. I think he was impressed that I was even watching the procedure at all.
Dr. P was pleased as punch after he completed that little hocus-pocus magical trick of his because the scope inserted all easy-peasy then. We were now on our way, much like riding Miss Frizzle’s Magic School Bus, to explore the urinary tract, bladder and openings to the kidneys. By the old Snorton Norton, it was fascinating stuff; I was truly engaged in watching the procedure on the screen. That’s when Dr. P looked up at the computer screen and saw Trixie for the first time.
Dr. P: Ugh. Get that off the screen, please.
Me: But that’s Trixie. She’s swimming along my urinary tract.
Dr. P: Sorry, but Trixie’s got to go.
Me: You never do what I want to do.
The nurses erupted in laughter. Dr. P told me not to be encouraging them because I didn’t know what it was like to work with them. I asked him if he looked forward to Tuesdays (his surgical procedures day) because he got to see and work with them. He replied that “it was a difficult job but somebody had to do it.” He added that “sometimes it was a challenge being outnumbered and surrounded by so much estrogen’” to which I told him that “it was exactly what he needed…leadership in the form of estrogen”.
Nurse 1: Can she come back in three months? We like her!
Dr. P: Of course, you like her. She’s one of you.
Nurse 1: Great! I can’t wait to see her a-hole socks.
Dr. P: Her what socks?
Me: Ummm, excuse me, but I’m in the
room stirrups. How about asking me if I want to come back before talking about me like I’m not even here?
Nurse 3: There, there. We know you’re here.
Me: You think I’m just another pretty urethra, don’t you? And, here I thought I was special.
Nurse 2 (trying to hold onto the specimen container without shaking it so Dr. P could drop the sample into it so that it could be sent to the pathologist): Oh. Em. Geeeeeeee!
Everyone else in the room put their heads down trying not to giggle. Then, I was struck with another idea. I couldn’t help but wonder if Dr. P had ever been kicked by a patient while they were in the stirrups. I mean, sometimes when a doctor tells you that it’s just going to be a little ‘pinch’ but it isn’t and it ends up really hurting so you just want to punch him/her in the throat for lying to you but, in this case, the patient would want to kick him in the throat because, well, stirrups. So, I asked him if he ever had been kicked. He told me “no, but I imagine if it ever were to happen it would probably be by someone like you.” Touché, Dr. P, touché. Now, you’re catching on.
Seeing my urinary tract, bladder, and opening to my kidneys, all from the vantage point of the the Magic School Bus cystoscope, was fascinating. Everything was a pale whitish-yellow colour (made me think of what it must be like to live in the Beatles’ yellow submarine — there were bubbles floating up and everything) with the red blood vessels offering up a lovely accent colour. Dr. P told me that everything was looking great which I took to be doctor speak for ‘you are one mighty fine badass bladder-y specimen of a woman’. Dr. P was quite hopeful that the drilling procedure would help clear up the bad swamp water pee because now the urine would flow much more freely and the bacteria wouldn’t get hung up in the urinary tract.
I left the OR with a skip in my step partly because my second choice socks were a hit, the procedures were over, and partly because I was sporting my brand new ‘Trixie the Fish’ sticker on the back of my hand. I am assuming Trixie was my reward for being THE BEST cystoscopy patient EVER.
Nurse 1 walked me back to the change room area and gave me instructions for my first pee post-op. There are no words to adequately describe the bittersweet moment of that first pee. It was bitter because it burned like hell and caused me to say words that even a dozen Hail Mary’s and a gallon of holy water wouldn’t forgive. It was sweet because that first pee gushed fully for the first time in months, much like water bursting forth from the fountain. It was glorious. I felt like Miss Niagara Falls winning the pageant. I had no idea just how bad my peeing had been prior to the cutting and pasting procedure.
On my way out, Dr. P was waiting for me in the hall. He whispered, “How was it?” “Glorious. Absolutely freaking glorious,” I replied.
I resisted the urge to ‘high five’ him, opting instead to give him a thumbs up just in case he needed a visual cue to go along with the good news. He noticed Trixie stuck to my hand and smiled. I couldn’t help but add “You’re gonna miss her when she’s gone. Who’s gonna guide you through all those urinary tracts?”
I have until October to find my badass asshole-y socks because that’s when I’ll be returning to the OR for some other badass bladder-y procedure. This time I have to arrive with a full bladder which already has me visualizing my bladder erupting into full geyser mode upon arrival. Stay tuned.
Widened urethra: 1
Bad swamp water pee: 0
My something new: starting a fashion trend for stirrup socks.