IN GRATITUBE: A Nightmare Week

Glenn Wollman


Act three:

Time, in my mind, was moving at a different rate than real time. The reality of imminent surgery was circulating in my brain cells. Would it happen in hours or days?

The Doctor held an anatomical model of the entire exposed male genitalia in front of my eyes. While focusing on the plastic model and relating it to my own anatomy, I learned that a green light Boron Laser would be inserted into my urethra. Under the steady hand of the skilled surgeon, a beam would generate 190,000 joules of energy, turning my prostate gland to fried sweetbreads. The tissue would be melted to a liquid then boiled to a gas, and then finally vaporized inside me. Who would want to turn down that E-ticket ride? “Evaporate it!” I said. “When do we do it? I can’t wait too long. My bladder is already filling”. The doctor informed me that he would not be able to operate for a week because of a previously scheduled medical conference.

So I was going to have to empty my bladder by self-catheterizing (inserting the tube into my own urethra) multiple times a day for one week — that is, seven days or 168 hours. I took my now familiar position on the table. “I know it sounds bad but I can tell you it will get easier”, the doctor whispered as he placed a 13-inch long catheter in my right hand. Using a reverse overhand vice-like grip, I did it without any thought. It was equally painful entering and exiting.

For the rest of the day, my mind was dreading the night. Thinking about having to do something I didn’t want to do. NEVER, EVER AGAIN. Yet I knew I was going to have to do it multiple times over the next 10,080 minutes. Fight or flight. My autonomic nervous system kicked in and put me in fear mode. Where did the fear originate from? Thus began an internal mental Google search for an old software pattern of behavior. An inappropriate survival strategy downloaded at a time when I had less understanding of things. In my meditation, I couldn’t find the root cause of the fear so I decided not to worry and just accept the fact that I needed a newer survival software program that would enable me to get through this major dilemma.

First, I granted myself Authorization (permissions) to change (grow). Next, I needed to invoke an inner power. With permission and power, I developed a ritual, creating a sacred space containing an altar organized with the following: gloves; surgical instruments; tubes filled with ointments and balms; tubes of bandages and dressings; and I think even a tube of tubes next to a glass measuring beaker.

The first night, it took me three hours to prepare for a procedure that lasted, on average, around 80 very long seconds. Positioning my body in a horse stance learned in martial arts training, I calmed my mind through a special breathing technique (see Meta4 square breath) and visualization. I grounded myself in compassion and gratitude and inserted the device slowly through the Three Gorges of Hell (three places on the path that cause intense pain). The ritual was repeated each morning when I awoke and each evening before I went to sleep. It was a long week that included a total of 15 feet of catheter tubing. It never got easier.

However, there were a few highlights and lessons:

The “words” I used to describe my clinical condition, emotions, physical issues, etc. had an energy or charge. When someone asked how I was doing, I thought “it is a nightmare week” and I immediately felt worse. But when I actually answered “it is a challenge”, I felt more tranquil. Awareness of the words hovering in my thoughts and speech resulted in softer and more healing choices. This had a positive effect.

Whenever I told people about the self-catheterization, everyone reacted with their own version of “The Squirm Boogie”. There were combinations and permutations of instantaneous, involuntary facial, body, and extremity contortions. Some even produced unintelligible sounds. Realizing the potential of entertainment I could achieve in the degrees of squirm, I was incentivized to provide increasingly elaborate descriptions.

Ok, there was one other good thing I learned. While going through the Three Gorges, I thought “I would not wish this on my worst enemy”. I started scrolling through my mental rolodex (yes, I still use one) and realized that I didn’t know anyone I disliked enough to consider an enemy.

Stay tuned for Act Four: Surgery and Superheroes

Magical Medical Tour:

  • Glenn’s latest CD, Sleep Suite, is now available online. For questions or to visit Dr. Glenn Wollman’s web site, connect with him through YogaHub.
  • [tags] Glenn-Wollman, Urinary Bladder, catheter-urethra, prostate-gland, photoselective-vaporization, calming-the-mind, Meta4-square-breath[/tags]

    Author: Glenn Wollman

    Glenn Wollman, MD, has always been at the leading edge of medicine. He helped pioneer the specialty of Emergency Medicine and, at the same time, also developed and ran one of the first hospital-based Integrative Medicine programs in the Unitied…

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