jazzoLOG: Reacquainting Privately    
 Reacquainting Privately8 comments
picture27 May 2004 @ 02:08, by Richard Carlson

The quest for certainty blocks the quest for meaning.

---Erich Fromm

Without raising a foot we are there already;
The tongue has not moved, but the teaching is finished.
Though each move is ahead of the next,
Know there is still another way up.


As for me, I delight in the everyday Way,
Among mist-wrapped vines and rocky caves.
Here in the wilderness I am completely free,
With my friends, the white clouds, idling forever.
There are roads, but they do not reach my world;
Since I am mindless, who can rouse my thoughts?
On a bed of stone I sit, alone in the night,
While the round moon climbs up Cold Mountain.


The gentleman who graces this final update on the major surgery I underwent early this month is Dr. William Batten, who has been my specialist through the whole ordeal. I want to express my appreciation to him for his skills, his personal approach, and his continuing openness to me for many basic needs. I must say as well I was astonished at the reasonableness of his charges---especially compared to the costs of hospital services.

Let me fill you in on where we are, tell you a bit more about Dr. Batten, and get specific about treatments and what comes next. Some of this we'll rate at PG-13, and you're welcome to skim through and drop out at any point. The last couple weeks have been a lot of work for me at home. I think we made it more difficult, in a way, by trying to get me off the potentially addictive pain-killers and onto ibuprofen before I was ready physically. This was a personal decision, because Dr. Batten wrote prescriptions for levels of medication from which we could choose. Yesterday the catheter was removed, concluding the mopping-up that began at the previous appointment, when stitches and 2 1/2 feet of drainage tubing were taken out. Dana got to watch that, while I just lay there---eyes shut. This means I retrain myself now to various inner workings, and in a couple more weeks enter the ongoing phase of monitoring for any appearance of cancer activity. That's why I think this can be the end of the journey, so to speak, with hopefully no more health news to report for a while.

The relationship between a patient and a urologist is about as delicate as things can get medically. These days, in the States anyway, we patients are trying to be take-charge people, not trusting anything that goes on until we've checked it all out ourselves, and really supervising the physician and his staff. In many ways this is what you need to do now, because of the vast population and all the choices you can make---and the various horrible mistakes you hear about. But at the end of the day, in this field anyway, you're going to be helpless in this doctor's hands and hopefully you've prepared yourself for that surrender. Dr. Batten has been formal yet sincerely concerned, well organized and thorough, and pretty open to criticisms I've made from time to time. Things get tense when you're facing a life-threatening diagnosis. But he also has a wonderful sense of humor, which must be a real saving grace in such profoundly difficult work.

A couple days after discharge from Fairfield Medical Center, I had a worry---and I think it may have been Sunday. He had given me his personal home phone number, and a couple of situations when I should call him immediately. This wasn't one of those---and frankly, I don't remember precisely the nature of my concern---but I called the personal number. It may have been before 9 AM. A woman answered, who identified herself as his wife. I introduced myself, apologized for the disturbance, and asked if he were there. No, he had gone to the hospital to check on a few people. So I said OK, I'll try to reach him there. And Mrs. Batten said, "I can page him from here. Let me do it and he'll call you back." Then she said she hoped I feel better...and you know what? She really meant it.

Yesterday we got to my appointment and, as usual, I unloaded my worries and concerns to him. And he assured me everything was going OK, and my developments were pretty normal at this stage. So...was I ready to get the catheter out? Of course, I hardly could wait, because the thing is a real pain...as many of you know I guess. From talking to friends around here, it seems catheterization is a pretty common ingredient in all sorts of procedures. But I wanted to be sure he thought I was ready for this. It amused him somewhat, probably because my anxiety certainly was showing. He said, "Just lie back," and he started getting out his equipment. I rolled my eyes up, worried I was going to feel something painful if he made a mistake getting the balloon to go down that was holding the thing in my bladder. I was really tense, and I said, "I have some fear about this you know. Should...should I be afraid?"

He said, "Well, yes and no." Now it was worse than ever. "Yes and no!" He laughed a little, still fiddling around with plungers and various plumbing equipment, and said, "Everybody is afraid to get a catheter out." Oh great! So I said, "What exactly do you do for those fears?" He said, "I just take the catheter out," and with that, he pulled...and I felt quite possibly some part of my intestine going out the back door---or maybe even my tonsils. But it didn't hurt exactly. "There it is, and it looks good," and he dumped everything in the waste basket. The best part about it---besides the relief---was there appeared to be no blood, which means the healing has gone OK. We got the pad put on for "leakage", received some advice, and made our arrangements for 2 weeks down the road. Dana wanted to know if I could go home and mow the lawn now, but he said I'd better wait. I suggested probably doing the dishes wouldn't be good either, right? But he wouldn't play along, and handed me my chart.

We found a gas station where it was only $1.97 a gallon...and I toddled right into the rest room. I couldn't wait to try things out! You know, you really are returned to childhood with something like this. It was the most incredible pee, and everything worked and seemed to remember what to do. I can't tell you how good that felt. But that reassurance is connected to the mystery, what I've learned, and more about this initiation so many of us have gone through, and maybe everybody has to eventually. We arrive into life "knowing" how to eliminate what we're done with. We have to do it or we perish. Can't live in our own waste. (Hello, Planet Earth!) But an operation like this means reconnecting with such basic instincts, and maybe learning to do them all over again.

When I was sitting there in the Speedway rest room, I envisioned my urinary tract calling out across a vast meadow, "Hey! Hello, I'm back." And over the hill on the other side of that waving, breezy grass, I could hear my bowels roll and rumble an answer, "Hurrah, we're still connected. We can work this out." Reconnecting the parts, feeling the emptiness where something is gone, finding a way around it, experiencing the wonder of how our bodies work. Isn't Life incredible, and isn't Healing the great blessing and Promise?

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27 May 2004 @ 04:51 by dempstress : Ah yes,
....that old pulling out of tubes and plugs and tonsils et al! There's really no way to describe until you've experienced it, is there? (a bit like being in love? No, well, perhaps not) Am so glad that the healing seems to have gone well and that none of your bits fell off. It is a very strange experience getting to re-know ones body while and once it's been mucked about with, but fascinating in its own way. Will discuss my own bits with you sometime.....possibly in a less public forum.

Anyway, nice to hear you're enjoying the 'rest room' experience (we have different words for that place over here). Bet you never gave much thought to it before, eh? And now people all over the world are experiencing it with you!!

love and very careful hugs


27 May 2004 @ 05:49 by spiritseek : Ah the bathroom...
I know the feeling of being able to once more do those regular body functions where just recently it felt as though your body will never know those normalties again. Sounds like your doing very well emotionally and physically, I'm happy for you.
Love and light my dear.  

27 May 2004 @ 08:07 by martha : Ahhhhhhh
I can hear the tinkling and the great sigh of relief...LOL
Thanks Jazzy for sharing once again. You are proving a wonderful gift for those men in the future that might have to deal with prostrate problems. You are brave and honest and I love that about you....  

27 May 2004 @ 11:52 by shawa : I´m glad all is going well
And would like to thank you for sharing. It´s important that we should learn to talk (and share) that which happens to our bodies. :-)  

27 May 2004 @ 11:59 by skookum : that is wonderful Jazz
*does happy dance for you  

27 May 2004 @ 16:46 by Quinty @ : I never thought
I would cheer anyone for taking a leak in a gas station men's room. But attaway to go!


Reminds me of several old jokes, Paul. I'll save them for the ChatRooms. :-) ---jazz  

29 May 2004 @ 04:49 by scotty : relieved and glad for you Richard
oh I could just happily shake your hand ... ah - but I see you're still using them !! ok - I do understand - will er say hello later Tresor !  

14 Jan 2005 @ 10:29 by jazzolog : Radiation & Richard
----- Original Message -----
From: "Ivy Korleski"
To: JAZZOLOG@peoplepc.com
Sent: Thursday, January 13, 2005 5:05 PM

> I know that you had an important doctor's appt. on Wednesday and worry
> that no news is NOT good news.......................

Got me! I thought I could tiptoe away from some friends about this for a
few more days, but No Dice. Ivy is on to my tricks from the olde daze and
too sharp these days...and just as assertive as ever. Yeah, my
prostate-specific antigen (PSA) jumped .04 the past 2 months, and we all had
agreed the ray gun needs to start shooting if that happens. It wouldn't be
so hard to take if I didn't have to travel an hour each way everyday to get
it. They're bringin' a unit in here to Athens like in the next couple
months, but I guess I won't risk waiting.

So what am I doing with a PSA if they took the damned thing out? Doc thinks
a couple cells flaked off, probably onto the outside of my bladder during
the operation. We're talking really microscopic stuff here (PSA is .72 now)
that you couldn't even see if I was cut open again. But it's still lethal,
and apparently not going to float away.

Side effects: some guys develop incontinence permanently, which would really
crimp my style, and I've seen my last erection, which glorious development
hasn't been working anyway since the surgery (early May) but we had hopes of
nerves relearning the hookup over time. (In case other men you know have to
face this, climax still can happen but it's harder work getting there
obviously---and without that messy semen all over the place, slightly less
spectacular.) Rectal damage is another possibility...probability actually.
We're all traveling up next Thursday to chart out where they're going to
aim, and hopefully to set up the schedule. Cheers!  

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