Friday, May 13, 2016

Transurethral resection of bladder tumor, the Flying Dutchman and other diversions

The short version is that the TURBT went well and I'm back at home. As expected, the canonical bladder problems are for the moment even worse than before, but I'm confident that in the long run things will improve. A brief report on the gory details, then on to more pleasant matters:

The procedure took a little over an hour, under general anesthesia. As I was coming out of it, the first thing I was dimly aware of hearing was "we're going to keep him overnight". A few moments later I was able to confirm this was not a hallucination. This was disappointing news until the surgeon came over and explained that the next morning they'd take out the catheter before sending me home, yay!
Anyway, the reason for the overnight is that the tumor had expanded somewhat and was "going down to the prostate", which doesn't mean the cancer is in the prostate but somehow pressing on it, which was adding to my bladder symptoms. In order to remove this part of the tumor they had to cut out a small piece of the prostate as well. Because of this additional trauma to the old system, they thought it best that I stay the night.

As always, however, it was an interesting experience. The most fun thing was that pre-op I met the surgeon's nurse practitioner Emily, who it turns out is good friends with Sarah (the oncologist's n.p.,
the opera enthusiast). And they had just seen the Flying Dutchman! It was Emily's first opera. Not the best choice of first opera, perhaps, but I just get such a kick out of the way Sarah is spreading the gospel of opera. As Chief Opera Consultant for the UW Urology Clinic, I told Emily to try La Traviata and/or the Magic Flute next season.  Wendy and I had planned to go the Dutchman, but upon discovering it is two and half hours long with no intermission, we changed plans. As I understand it, using a pee-bottle during the performance is frowned upon.

I also like to do experiments. I asked the surgery team to tell me right before they administered the anesthesia, just to see if afterward I would remember everything up to that moment, or if there would be a gap. No gap, it turns out.

My main complaint about the overnight is that they scheduled it on the one night the Mariners weren't playing. It would have been a perfect evening for Wendy (who as always is taking such good care of me!) and I to watch a game. The nerve! I proposed that they send me home last night, then I'd come back tonight, watch the game and we could call it even. They didn't go for it. Nor were the nurses receptive to my request that I go outside the ward for a while and do laps on stairs. I considered making a break for it with my bag-and-pole, then realized it wouldn't be right to gross out innocent bystanders. On the plus side, rarely in my life have I received so many compliments on my "excellent urine".

Around 5 last night my roommate was sent home, and I had a large room to myself. With the door closed it was relatively quiet and I was able to pace around and write notes for my algebraic topology class. As hospital stays go, it was a productive one.

The next step? Who knows. Better to conclude with two quotes from the munchkins, who always make me smile.

1. Biking to school last week, I was almost hit by a car that turned left across the Burke-Gilman trail right in front of me, despite the fact that I had a green light with a little bicycle picture in it, and the car had a "Left turn yield to pedestrians". The car went partly onto the sidewalk before bouncing off and driving away. I told the story to the assembled Mitchell-Brown clan---what a jerk! (at the time of the incident I used a much stronger expletive, but this version had to be suitable for all audiences). At which point Finley suggested in all seriousness: "Maybe he was blind."

2. Kevin was asking Kaia questions about our big wall map. "What's this?" he asks, pointing to a shaded area adjacent to the coast of the northeastern U.S. To the surprise of all Kaia answered correctly "the continental shelf". Upon seeing our surprise, she sat down with a sigh and said "I have no idea why I know so much."
(In fact both the kids learn many such interesting things from "The Magic School Bus".)

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