IN GRATITUBE: Surgery and Superheroes

Glenn Wollman

Calculating the rate of bladder filling and hours before surgery, it was painfully obvious I would have to catheterize myself and penetrate the Three Gorges of Hell (see Act Three), hopefully, for the last time in this life time. I awoke early. Mission accomplished.

Trying to remain in a very positive mental state,I crossed the Hospital threshold at 0500 hours.

While following the nurse along the corridor to the pre-op room, I contemplated my preparation ritual. I envisioned a quiet meditation, fine tuning body, mind, spirit connections. This seemed the best strategy for the high energy laser assault looming in the nearest future in a corridor not far, far away.

A lesson was presented as I entered my room. Another man, also anticipating surgery, occupied the bed nearest the door. I walked quietly past the bed as one of his family member’s sneezed and coughed. “Great” I thought, as I pictured billions of tiny viruses surfing the air waves and targeting my immune system, which I was trying to protect and booster.

For the entire hour and a half, he engaged in loud conversation. I finally let go and released my envisioned meditation and sacred space. I tuned in to him instead. He was positive, humorous and harboring no apparent fear. He shared personal stories with nurses, orderlies, lab techs and family. It was only in the final seconds, as he was being wheeled out to the operating room, that I overheard him reveal how his bladder cancer had spread to a ureter. The surgeon intended to remove one kidney (nephrectomy). His malady and surgery were far more serious than my outpatient procedure. We never met but, in that moment, I offered silent gratitude to have been in his presence. I think he prepared me in a far better manner for my procedure than anything I might have done in my sacred space.

I was transferred to the operating room and assisted on to the surgical table.

I was awake. I smiled.

I was out (anesthetized).

I was marginally awake (in recovery).

Acknowledging consciousness, I smiled again, to pillar my surgery by two smiles (see Blog Prime Cut tip #9).

It is always strange to recover from a drug-induced anesthesia sleep, but I was grateful for the intravenous tubing that carried the medications through my vascular tubes (blood vessels) to my central nervous system (big important tube).

Through the mental fog, I heard a voice inform me that the surgery had gone well. One minor detail, however: I still required a catheter to keep my non-functioning bladder empty. It differed from the prior catheters. It had to be supra-pubic. It was connected to a very large removable needle and inserted through the skin of my abdominal wall (between my navel and pubic bone) directly into my bladder. It would remain for an unknown time.

I didn’t want to deal with anything except clearing my body and mind of very appreciated toxins and continuing my healing strategy.

Every person interacting with me in the hospital that day was a super-hero. All were professional, pleasant, courteous and competent. They made everything go smoothly during a time and in a place where bumps would not have been stellar. I was and am grateful.

I recovered well. After being formally introduced to my supra pubic catheter and receiving instructions on emptying, cleaning and plugging, I went home in the late afternoon, with my fiancée taking care of me.

On my third day post-op, a new superhero was seen for the very first time and I experienced a humorous lesson.

My abdominal incision began leaking profusely around the exiting part of the catheter. I shifted out of “patient mode” and into “doctor mode”. I called (begged) my wonderful neighbor (Bea) to procure some type of adult diaper and specific medical supplies that would allow me to stop the leak and change my own dressings. I was trained for this. I may never know all the decisions and visuals she experienced deciding sizes, amounts, absorbency capabilities, etc., but I do know that her light shattered the darkness of the moment as she handed me the bag of supplies. Her choices were perfect.

Out of the darkness and into the light, and for my own personal entertainment, emerges a “man of steel” (well some parts of me are steel). I stood poised to protect the sacred space (bathroom) while keeping gratitude and compassion from being misplaced (lost) from the hearts and minds of the walking wounded. Resplendent in a giant panda-faced shower cap with extended, giant panda ears, surgical gloves and mask, red cape (towel around my neck) and a cool pair of stripe-colored mid-calf socks, appeared for the very first time…


After an evening of primum non nocere (first doing no harm) and protecting my local Universe, I wanted to take my first shower since surgery. The brilliant idea manifested in my super mind that wearing the pampers (sans accoutrements) might keep the incision, dressing and catheter dry.

Obviously, it was my sub-mind in control. This exquisite shower (which I took in the dark) changed rapidly when a feeling of heaviness developed in my lower body as if I were being grasped and tugged from below. I was rapidly losing height. 5’9″ became 5’3”. My knees were buckling as I was being inhaled by the drain dragon. Finally, at 4’6” and with my last bit of strength, I managed to rip off the pampers that were stockpiling enough water to fill a….

Stay tuned for ACT Five. Dealin’and Healin’

Magical Medical Tour:

    Act 4: Surgery and Superheroes
  • 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,Kidney Stones, supra-pubic catheter,post-op shower,depends[/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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