Tuesday, November 04, 2008

An Unwanted Journey: Day 1077 - Cystoscopy

Curiosity helps preserve equanimity for me these days.

Today, my wife and I went early to St. Mary's Hospital to consult with my urologist. Only after arriving in the Cysto Suite did we realize that I was going to have a cystoscopy as well as a consultation.

Like a colonoscopy, a cystoscopy involves a tube and a camera, this time looking at the urethra and the bladder. Of course, because I am always curious about what is being done to my body, I wanted to see what the urologist was doing and what the inside of the bladder looks like.

There was evidence of inflammation, probably a result of both radiation and chemotherapy, but otherwise nothing out of the ordinary. The prostate was slightly enlarged too, but again that didn't appear problematic and will likely respond to the Flomax used to help with urine flow anyway.

We talked about possible causes for the difficulty voiding. The urologist can't comment specifically on what role constipation played, but he did indicate that pain alone can be sufficient cause to interfere with voiding.

It all seems to come back to pain and pain management.

There are times when I feel like I have no right to talk about pain. One of my close relatives has suffered through incredible pain for several years now without any hope that the pain will decrease. We can, of course, commiserate about pain management, but his chronic pain obviously is far more difficult to handle on a daily basis than my own acute pain.

I know that it's not a contest. But if my own experience is indicative, there is almost nothing more important in dealing with serious medical problems than pain management. When you are suffering serious pain, you can't think properly, you can't make decisions effectively, and you can't really be as involved in dealing with the root causes as you should be. On the other hand, when pain is manageable, no matter how upsetting the underlying condition, it seems easier to cope.

Today, getting dressed and getting to the Cysto Suite were significant challenges. I was out of breath just making my way into the hospital foyer, so when I was offered a wheel chair, I gladly acquiesced. It bothers me that I have so few energy reserves right now, but given the results of the cystoscopy, overall I'm feeling more optimistic about managing this particular side effect of chemotherapy.

The catheter remains in place for now, but will probably be removed by CCAC nurses within a day or two. We will monitor urine flow carefully and do another urology consultation in a week or so. There are more prescriptions to fill too, but if yesterday was barely better, I think today will be noticeably better...especially if Barack Obama wins the election in the United States.

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