I Pooped Today I’ll Poop Tomorrow
It was 3:50 am Wednesday morning and I had just taken the most satisfying shit in my life.A bowel movement of quality, re-affirming one of life’s little joys that is often hurriedly passed through or neglected to be fulfilled.I’ll never take another poop for granted.
It was the second step in my recovery from surgery to remove my right kidney and the cancerous masses attached to it and around it.The first step came six hours after having that major organ removed, six days after receiving the frightening telephone call that hurled me toward the surgery date, six months after bouts of debilitating fatigue that left me worried and confused about my condition.I was healthy.I was healthy.And I was now struggling to take my first steps with a nurse on one side and my sister on the other as waves of nausea and dizziness washed over me as I rose from my bed and a nurse scrambled for a pan for me to vomit into.I shuffled towards the door and thought I might make a break for it but that idea made the room spin faster.I moved tentatively on sodden legs, paralyzed intestines, and an abdomen that had been exploded and incised.
I was home three days after surgery and had not had a bowel movement in all that time.Another night passed.It’s not a record, people have gone longer than that because that’s how they are built or just for kicks.But I enjoy my time in the oval office and crucial moves had to be made.Pooping became a life or death situation.My guts had been paralyzed by the anesthesia and my reflexes deadened by the pain medication.When I left the hospital the nurses said good bye, wished me well and tell us when you poop!My intestines were completely lifeless below the incisions in my abdomen.Not a rumble.
I awoke to the feeling of sharp knives and itching in my bowels and my bladder felt ready to explode.The feelings passed.I closed my eyes trying to remember the familiar urgency of having to go.The knives and itching returned with an intense heat in my thighs and I hurriedly woke Susan.She helped me put my feet on the floor and sit up. She threw a robe over my shoulders and aimed me towards the bathroom door.I would do this solo.My stomach rumbled twice and the itching faded and the knives moved smoothly down the intestinal walls and I passed gas warm and silky in a long exhalation of relief.I felt life burst from me.My bowels moved with a ripple of memory and I enjoyed a movement of celebratory proportions filling the bowl three times.
Going in Helpless
Da Vinci Robotic Surgeon
Robotic Arms and Stainless Steel Surgeons
In the last scene of the film “The Empire Strikes Back” we find ourselves on the medical deck of a star cruiser looking out at the vastness of galaxies. A robot surgeon puts the finishing touches on the robotic hand it has attached to a human. Luke Skywalker looks up at the robot with a slight smile that says “I’m going to be alright, right?” He flexes his fingers and grasps a time in science fiction where robotic care givers and complete trust in these machines are the norm. It mirrors our present time where we are asked to put aside our fear. We are asked to trust in technology, superhuman skill, and expanding galaxies of innovation. But do we trust completely?
In my case, from the standpoint of the work needing to be done, man and science came through one hundred percent. The Da Vinci Robotic Surgeon is a huge step in medical science and patient care. Controlled by a skilled human surgeon it is capable of precise movements, wielding miniaturized surgical tools with a range far beyond human hands. And it does not tire or tremble. It is minimally invasive and the recovery time for the patient post surgery is dramatically reduced. Not “Long Long Ago” but here and now we find a collaboration of surgeon and machine that is complimentary and balanced.
The surgeons that guide the machines have moved beyond the ordinary. Skilled and knowledgeable they have steadfast nerves, reflexes like a coiled spring, and judgment honed on a razors edge. And their assessment of what must be done is as unforgiving as steel.
Tomorrow will be three weeks since my surgery. Healing nicely , mobility is increasing and now onto the next step. Tomorrow my anti cancer drug will be delivered. Unlike typical chemo it is a boutique drug designed for cases like mine. You can't take your prescription to the pharmacy and get it filled. It takes a couple of phone calls and identity check to get the program rolling but they work fast, they know time is of the essence and patients want it in their hands now! So tomorrow will begin phase two of my recovery. I drop the first pill.
I walk deeper into the veil and tomorrow my world will change once again adjusting my life to be measured by timing pills, appointments for scans, blood work and consulting with the doctor. I have counted the days to surgery and the days of recovery. Measured my strength and mobility. Marked off days on the calendar until I can return to work and counted the dollars spent and dwindling away. I weigh the medical bills and balance them against the insurance premium. How much longer before I can get on my bicycle and just ride.
in the veil I see shimmering's of my former world and shadows of a future. I am compelled to go forward in measured steps because forward is the only way to go. Anxious and uncertain about tomorrow but now it is a measured life.
Interview with Dr. Ted Manny
Dr. Ted Manny is a urologist and surgeon and performed my radical nephrectomy (excision of a kidney).
Daniel: Ahh… so where's my kidney?
Dr Manny: (an uneasy smile plays across his face) Pickled in a jar on a shelf somewhere.Well no, by now it’s been sliced and slides made and the rest has been incinerated.
Daniel: So much for my contribution to science.Describe your passion for urology.
The double translucent glass doors bumped open parting the words "Operating Room" painted in red across them. I was rolled down a short hall painted sea foam green like the color of the scrubs the nurses wore. We turned a corner into a cacophony both human and machine. Sea foam bodies darted by in the wavering LCD light as I was backed into a curtained cubicle. I looked down my bed, across the blanket I pulled tighter, past my restless feet to a wall of computer screens and consoles. IV bags hung on a steel rack labeled and tagged and I figured mine must be there in that tangle of tubes. I hoped there would be no confusion. I could hear the softly moderated voice of a doctor and the groaned reply of the patient. A woman's moans came from behind the curtain that separated our beds. Sea foam surrounded me, clipboards and masked faces then a needle pierced my hand and tubes fitted down my arm taped and labeled. I was attached to my machine.
I had left my family in the hallway behind the double doors. They say I was frightened my eyes huge and brown and watery as Susan told me she loved me with a catch in her words that sent me down into the void.
They had come too soon "the doctor is calling for him" the nurse announced an hour earlier than scheduled . My family was supposed to join me in the pre-op room where I had stripped and donned the gown. Susan packed my things as the nurse and clipboard grilled me one last time. Name, birth date, what are you having done? I glanced at the clock. " Having my right kidney removed along with other masses and tumors". And now it would be done, I acknowledged it and the threat of cancer and the threat of not returning from the operating room tasted bitter and cold. "The doctor is calling for him a second time" the nurse called out. No family, I would meet them in the hallway, briefly clasp hands and pray trying to focus on their faces. Trying to breath, trying to recall a time before.
Like a drowning man in the vastness I rose through the quivering sheets of sea foam light and in a flash of silver and blue I was alive and waking in the recovery room. I bobbed on the surface of a sea of uncertainty a cocoon protected me from the icy cold reaches of pain, Tubes, blinding light, machines ticking, humming communicating. A human nurse at a console looked over at me and spoke. I took a breath and let myself slip down into the memory of an unapproachable room of robotic arms and stainless surgeons.
Walking my robot
Coming out Helpless