Wouldn’t that title suit a movie? It would promote a mystery and a bit of drama.
The date and time for the “production” were set weeks ago and I was invited to provide the setting for the production, namely my bladder.
As sometimes is in movie making, the setting becomes the star of the film, as, for instance, a film set in Paris or Berlin can be. And so it was with my bladder. A bladder is not so exciting as Paris or Berlin but it is to me as the doctors hold out the prospect of ripping it out of me.
I had a cystoscopy done before. It was done at a doctor’s surgery without much fuss. A competent nurse inserted a catheter into my urethra and then the doctor inserted a camera into my bladder. I was invited to watch it all on a screen. “There is cancer”, he exclaimed as if he had discovered a new small-sized planet. I didn’t see anything, it all looked uninteresting to me. That was it. They let me go home to nurse my manly pride.
Not this time. It was to be big, bigger than “Ben Hur” apparently. “You have to fast from midnight,” they said, “and you need an anaesthetic,” they added. I did not understand. It is hospital procedure and they added that I have to have someone to drive me home. I can go by bus, Oh no, you can’t.
I became angrier and angrier and called the whole thing off. It did not take long and another female person, more friendly, rang me back and explained why an anaesthetic was necessary this time. Now we know I had cancer and if it looks like it could be back they would take a biopsy. If I cancel the procedure I would lose my place in the queue and it could take months before I could be treated again. Reconsider! I did.
I had my evening meal at seven pm and was allowed to eat and drink up to midnight. But when I went to sleep at eleven I did not feel like a meal.
Next morning I took the bus, accompanied by my wife for moral support. We were early and waited in the visitor’s lounge until the appointed time.
When I fronted the reception desk I was instructed to sit down and wait for the nurse. It wouldn’t take long I was assured. As any actor would be able to tell you, movie making is actually very, very boring. There are long waiting times between takes and the setting up of the set
On a big wall TV screen, we were informed that the hospital performed many procedures that day and ten were of a urological nature, just like me. In the meantime, ambulances brought emergency cases to the ward which meant I had to wait longer. After about an hour one nurse came to invite me into the inner sanctuary. My hope that it was soon my turn was quashed quickly. She put some stockings on me and questioned me in regard to my persona. Having established that I really was the one I claimed to be I was duly tagged with two tags, wrist and ankle. “It won’t be long,” she promised.
It was back to the waiting room in which a silly TV receiver showed constantly ads in which they inserted snippets of news. My stomach began to rumble. Seventeen hours had passed since my last food and drink. The TV started to show an old American movie. How did I know it was an old movie? The people did not use a cell phone (mobile phone) and nobody stared at a smartphone. They were actually talking to each other.
My bladder is not the only part of my body that gives me cause to worry and to consider my future here on Earth. For instance, if I sit for long I have problems walking, my right leg becomes almost useless. So, from time to time I have to get up and pace like a panther in the zoo up and down the waiting room. By doing this I can be sure I can actually walk into the ward for my procedure and not collapse because of my immobile right leg.
The silly movie made way for more ads with some news reports inserted. In the waiting room beside us was only one other lady. She too complained about the long waiting time and she too had nothing eaten since the previous night. Hungry people are not patient people. They are getting angrier with each rumble of the stomach.
During my walks around the ward, I saw a poster on the wall inviting us to give the ward manager a call when you have any concern before, during or after the procedure. In times long gone by, those managers were called Head Sisters or Matrons but in today’s modern times everything has to be managed. I was wondering how anybody under an anaesthetic could call the manager during the procedure? But anyway, I was still before the procedure and gave her a ring because the lady at the reception desk had long gone home. My case needed to be managed.
The manager was surprised to hear from me when I explained that there were still two patients waiting for their procedures. She promised to come out and “look into it”. I would say they had forgotten us.
When she came out, she wanted to know who I was. She explained that they have been rather busy and had worked their way down the list and it so happened that they had reached us on their list. The lady patient and I should come in now and we would be taken care of. Finally!
I must tell you here that I wasn’t so keen on the anaesthetic in the first place, plus I was silly enough to watch the night before a hospital drama in which a patient died during an operation because of a haemorrhaging brain tumour.
Instead of getting an early mark the crew in the operation theatre still had to look through a peephole into my bladder and take pretty pictures of what they saw. And if what they saw was not to their liking a biopsy had to be taken.
The man who prepared me for my anaesthetic was delighted to see the back of my hand looked like “a map of Papua New Guinea”. The veins were sticking out like a river system in a rainforest. There was no need to search for a place were to stick in the cannula.
I started to remember an operation I had when I was nine years of age. I was so afraid of the anaesthetic that I screamed like hell. I wanted to get off the table and run away. But the staff tied me down with leather belts on all of my four limbs. I was naked and it was freezing cold. There was a war going on, the enemy was only 100km away and American and British bombers were pounding our city day and night at any time of their liking.
A sister put a gauze over my face on which droplets of ether was trickled. “Count to hundred and back again,” I was instructed. I was so scared then and did not expect to survive. It all went well but would a nine-year-old expect that?
Back to the future. While the anaesthetic tried to shut down my senses I was heard myself saying, “I feel I’m getting drowsy…”. This time I was not scared only concerned and then nothing…
When one is unconscious time does not exist. I could have been dead or died during the procedure. I would never have known. But suddenly, a sweet, angelic voice was saying, “Peter, it is all over.” That is what the voice said but it was not what I actually heard. I heard, “Peter, it is ALL over!”
That could only mean one thing, I was dead. When I opened my eyes I found I was still in the operating theatre and the nurses prepared me to take me to recovery. There they took a few measurements like pulse and blood pressure. All seemed to be okay and they offered me some hot tea and sandwiches. This was very welcome after fasting for twenty-three hours.
A young resident doctor by the name of Shaun turned up and told me that he had indeed found a new cancer in my bladder and he had removed it. The biopsy would also show whether they got it all out and the surrounding tissue was free of cancer.
While I was munching on my sandwiches my wife and daughter were suddenly standing beside my bed. I was satisfied that my story had a happy end and soon we were on the way home. We practically had been eight hours in the hospital.
I think, being alive is a good substitute for being in “heaven”.