There must come a point in everyone’s life when the notion of invincibility takes a hit, when mortality takes on personal meaning. For me, that point is right now. Not to be morbid about it, but it does give one pause.
Someone suggested if now was the time to let Ellen and Reid in on the the reality of being a post-middle age dad. It is a fair assumption that kids tend to see their parents as forever beings. I did, but as we all know the outcome is not a matter of if, but when.
So today’s letter you will see next week might be something of an intro to a larger conversation between the three of us. We can’t run from the future but only toward it, and we might as well recognize there are indisputable facts of life in motion for all of us. I don’t see this, however, as some omnipresent dark cloud over the letters; in fact it will be far from it. It is just simple recognition that it is just the way things are.
February 14, 2011
Ellen/Reid: They say every day above ground is a good one and I am now a true believer. What a hell of a birthday. One moment I’m working out in the gym and feeling good and three hours later I’m in a hospital gown with a catheter shoved up my you-know-what.
I’m not sore at all but am really just out of gas. Haven’t dipped into the pain meds they gave me. Tried to work at the kitchen table but ran out of steam. I’ll get back to it in pretty short order.
All things considered, I’m really lucky. By sheer luck, I was the only patient in the normally packed urologist’s office because he was doing surgery. So I got instantly into a room, and again by sheer luck, he was just returning to the office. Once he saw my urine sample, he and his staff pulled out all the stops. They quickly put in the catheter and in an incredible sign of how urgent this was, he personally drove me the few blocks to the hospital. He described the possibilities for the source(s) of the bleeding, and the outcomes if it went unchecked, in terms that just stunned me. I wasn’t so much scared as just wondering ‘what the hell is going on here?’ His staff had already admitted me on an emergency basis and I went straight to the urology floor where they started to irrigate my bladder with what’s called a Murphy drip. They were trying to flush the blood or clots out, and that was what they did for the next 54 hours or so. It was sheer torture. If the path of exit was impeded by clots, which it was frequently, the saline solution would accumulate in my bladder and make my stomach puff up. The nurses couldn’t respond quick enough to my pleas for relief, so it was up to me to relieve myself as best I could. You’ll be spared those details but it was awful. It was really good to have Felicia there because she understood the medical lingo (she’s a nurse) and was able to goad the nurses into action. She was there almost every minute. I was really glad to get your persistent text messages.
The surgery depended on the doctor’s schedule. That was the worst part, waiting for him to go inside to explore the source of the bleeding, given his blunt predictions of the source. There was one good bit of news in that the CT scan didn’t show any overt tumors or cancers. In a nutshell, my bladder had worked overtime for some time to unsuccessfully, and fully, drain itself, in part impeded by an uncooperative prostate. This in turn put pressure on the bladder walls and adjoining kidneys. But it was the bleeding that had to be stopped and since the bladder was filled with blood it obstructed the view of the source which could have been anything.
The surgery was supposed to be Thursday mid-morning but it didn’t go down until the afternoon. He went into the bladder, removed the clots, and then he proceeded to “roto root,” or resection, my prostate to create an easier path for the urethra to drain the bladder. He said he talked to me in recovery but I don’t remember a thing after telling the anesthesiologist “I can feel it working…” In the space of his 120 second visit Friday morning, he said he reserved the right to go back in to the bladder if things didn’t clear up to the degree he liked.
But I’m home now and still feeling okay. Felicia played nursemaid the entire weekend. I’m up and around a little bit, checking in on e-mails at work, trying to be marginally productive. It’s weird in that I can go from a workout to being told no exertion for six to eight weeks. No golf (no biggie) and no bike riding (biggie). But I’m damned lucky in a lot of ways, and like they say about soldiers in the midst of war, even atheists find God in a foxhole. He and I had our share of short conversations. No doubt there will be a few more to come.