In Gratitube Act Five: Healin’ and Dealin’

Glenn Wollman

Two weeks passed before I felt comfortable leaving my sanctuary to venture into the real world. I plugged the supra-pubic catheter and carefully secured it in my fiancée-designed, custom-made, inside the waistband, semi-sterile (not even) samurai pouch.

I presumed that no one in the restaurant could tell I was packin’ (a catheter, not a pistol/piss tool).

Using my Diaper Dude super powers (Act Four), I began visualizing and imagining all of my fellow diners with a cornucopia of unseen devices: prosthetic limbs, pacemakers, bags for all reasons, transplanted organs etc… When it began to resemble a Fellini film, my mind returned to dinner.

I was grateful that Medicine (my profession) has provided people the opportunity to function and live good lives, even though there were issues with tissues (body parts). I appreciated how people were capable of dealing with adversity and moving forward, many quite gracefully.

It was time to make a decision about the supra-pubic catheter. It needed to be removed because of potential infection. But what if my urethra was not up to the task? Would it let me down again even though I thought I had fixed the issue by removing the tissue? Another catheter would have to be reinserted immediately along the same track. Otherwise I would have to begin catheterizing myself, or go back to the operating room and have another tube inserted under general anesthesia. I didn’t want any of these options so I worked diligently, on all levels, to succeed. With a week to go, I was super confident. With two days to go, I started having separation anxiety.

At the appointed time I entered the doctor’s waiting room, positive that it could be removed. Unfortunately, I had to wait a little longer than usual because there were others ahead of me with unscheduled, complicating maladies. This gave me just enough time to question most of my confidence. I felt a slight feeling of suffocation, which I relieved by stepping outside multiple times to focus and breathe semi-fresh air.

I entered the doctor’s office, once again sitting on the side of the desk nearest the plastic representation of the exposed male genitalia (Act Three). I told my doctor I wanted the tube out but I didn’t want to risk the consequences of a system failure.

Accounting for our seated positions and the distance across the desk, the aforementioned genitalia model was occupying the visual space of my doctor’s face. In the brief instant between my statement and his response, I wondered if he had the same visual from the backside?
Things became surrealistic as his voice seemed to be coming from the plastic genitals. ”Sometimes”, it/he said, “the tube has to stay in for months, and sometimes people have to be catheterized for life”. Even the funny visual didn’t prevent the wave of nausea.

We decided to do an objective test and leave the decision up to scientific data. I was comfortably back in my element: test taking (which I have done all my life). I lay on the table in my now very familiar position while the doctor used the supra-pubic catheter as a conduit to fill my bladder with fluid. I could feel it filling up and stretching my abdomen back into my prior pregnancy state (Act one). Now it was my mission to empty the same amount of fluid he had inserted. If it emptied, the catheter would come out and I would be free. If not, we would remove this one and place another one in immediately.

Houston, we didn’t have a problem.

Everything worked. The doctor said “congratulations” as he cut the suture, which had secured the catheter to my abdominal wall. The catheter was pulled without any of the pain I had anticipated. My Mother would have been proud had I been able to tell her I’d “aced” my urine test.

I am now fully into the healing mode; accepting challenges, avoiding complications, learning when to push and when to flow, and accepting that I am not totally in charge. Sometimes my energy is high when things are going well. Sometimes my energy is low when I feel like I am not progressing. I am now four months out and still healing. I was told it takes four to six months.

Injury and illness, although different in specifics, have many things in common related to healing, setbacks, ebb and flow, highs and lows, unexpected issues that seem to pile on.

Throughout the process I recognized some things that helped me. Maybe some of them will help you.

1.Be prepared:
Physically, mentally and spiritually. Obtain the knowledge of how the treatment should progress before, during and following the procedure.

2.Be in Gratitude:
The more one remains in that “state”, the easier it is. When pain or suffering is peaking, finding things to be grateful for will take you to a better place. Thank everyone along the way.

3.Support system:
Even if you don’t tell everyone, just know they are there and allow people to help when needed.

4.Have a good doctor and office staff communication

When the overall garden may not look so good, search for some beautiful flowers to enjoy. Other times, a weed may appear but it is still a beautiful garden. Appreciate all the things that are working correctly in your body, mind and spirit.

6. Be Relevant:
Begin doing something related to your vocation or a hobby as soon as possible.

7.Peaks and Valleys:
They are going to happen even if unrelated to the main event. Just when I was starting to feel almost normal, my father died.

Look for humor and fun stories to share in every part of the journey. You might have a great blog or book in you. It may help others.

9.Posture and Alignment:
Try and regain or remain as close to your natural alignment as possible. Being out of alignment can cause new problems at a time when you are trying to heal from something else. Things flow better when in alignment.

10. Hygiene:
Stay clean, don’t increase the opportunity for infection at a time when your immune system might be struggling or compromised.

11.Choose the right words and thoughts:
Words actually do mean something. Just changing a word made me feel better about the experience.

12. Food is medicine, medicine is food. (Hippocrates-lite):
Eat healthy, small portions. Eat very slowly (M.Pollan-lite).

13.Pet therapy:
I didn’t have any for this one but I have had in the past. Your pet will love you unconditionally.

14.Make Changes:
Evaluate who you were (physically, mentally and spiritually) and what may have been contributing factors leading to the event. Consider making changes.

15.Healin’ and Dealin‘:
Try to make most of the issues you have to deal with about healing. If you are dealing with an issue that is not about healing, make the decision with healing in mind.

16. “Oh blah di, Life goZon” (McCartney-lite)

Magical Medical Tour:

    Act 5: Healin’ and Dealin’
  • 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.
  • Glen Wollman, Healing, Gratitude, Positivity, prepared, humor

    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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