We had plans to take our Grandson Aaron to Celebration Town Center for some frolicking in the artificial snow last weekend.
On Friday evening, however, I had noticed I was having some disturbing medical issues. Similar problems had happened a few times before, but the condition would peak then eventually clear.
That is what I was hoping was going to happen this time. But when it came time to leave Saturday night, I was not up to it and I had still not told Vida about the medical problem. Instead of going to Celebration, we decided to just walk a short while around Cranes Roost Park in Altamonte Springs.
On Sunday, I finally Told Vida about the situation while we were out running errands and it was mutually decided that we will go to Florida Hospital, Altamonte and have things looked at.
The problem was blood and blood clotting in my urine and the situation seemed to be getting worse and not better.
Instead of admitting me into an observation room, they wheeled me straight to the emergency room. I received an MRI and it was determined that my bladder was retaining a very high level of fluid. In fact, my bladder had extended all the way up to just below my sternum. The ER doctor ordered a catheter and that was something I certainly was not expecting but then, I was not expecting any of this still hoping it would have just all gone away.
The catheter was no easy task and am not sure if it ever is. I could not understand why, if this is so painful why some sort of anesthesia could not be used, but it had apparently became more complicated since blood clots were preventing a more easy entry into the bladder. Once situated, the draining process began and at total of over 2.5 liters was removed after a 2-day process.
I was assigned to Altamonte Springs Urologist Dr. Abraham Woods. He came relatively early on Monday morning to introduce himself, learn more about the situation and to share his findings and his plans to help correct the problem. There was a certain calm about Dr. Woods on top of his professional appeal. That helped to make things more pleasant and it also always helps if the patient trusts the doctor who will be exploring inside my body.
By Monday evening, it was established that there was a tumor in my bladder that had to be removed, the kidneys would have to be evaluated and, since the prostate was enlarged, a biopsy for cancerous tissue would also be necessary.
The two nurses who cared for me while I was waiting on the sixth floor were Beth and Delinda. If I were to select any nurses in the future, I would select these two. They maintained a compassionate and professional ethic throughout a stay in the hospital that I was already not wanting to be a part of. It makes everything seem so much better and while there are fears associated with these stays, these two nurses helped to keep things relaxed, and to keep me focused on the good and the positive outcome.
I was pretty much immobilized in my hospital bed while I waited to be taken downstairs for the exploratory surgery. I had so many lines running in and out of me that it was difficult to even roll on my side when trying to get some rest.
The orderly came to my room at about 4:30 pm to cart me down to the surgical section of the hospital. Watching the ceiling pass by with an occasional glance at all the nurses, staff and visitors I really began to wonder what was going to happen. Dr. Woods gave me the impression that the tumor in the bladder was not the major problem and I trusted his judgment. The prostate was enlarged and it appeared that was a more critical issue than the others at hand. Then the question, if cancer was discovered there, of how to pay for the treatment became a concern.
I was finally wheeled down the corridor, on a gurney that had a bad wheel which caused the escorts to fight the constant veering to the right, Vi walked with me as far as she could and that is when things became, shall we say, “fuzzy.” There were several gowned people lining the walls of the final corridor and as the gurney was turning into the operating room, even more people were standing by waiting to see if their expertise was going to be needed. I was asked to try to scoot myself onto the operating table and I complied as gracefully as I possibly could.
Something was put into my IV and the next thing I remember is waking up lying next to a nurse sitting in a chair beside me. I asked what had happened and I have no idea still what she said. I was awake though, and that was to me a good sign.
I remember being told that I was going to be issued a new room on the 3rd Level. I was wheeled up there, but again, I do not remember the ride. For those who have been in the hospital understand when I say that there is plenty of time to let the mind and the imagination wonder. Sometimes, it goes places that maybe it shouldn’t – like making presumptions that are not qualified. But it is easy to do.
It was a waiting game now since Dr. Woods took the biopsy on the prostate and the cultures needed time show what was and what was not there. It was a waiting game where I found myself hoping that I had done the right things in my life.
Did I leave enough behind – emotionally, spiritually and financially – that I would be remembered as a good father, a good husband, son, brother, uncle, neighbor, friend, and servant to God and to the community.
What should I have done differently and what could I have done differently. It did not matter, perhaps, at this point, since it may have been too late. But those things carried a greater burden on me now than they did when my life was not at risk.
I find myself looking at some of the seemingly “smaller” things that now appear enormous in comparison to what I thought was important before. A simple gesture from the heart can usually mean a lot more than a massive attempt to please through possessions or misrepresentation. God hears our every word and He also knows our every thought and our every intention. There is no hiding from the truth, it is with us always and follows us to our final breath.
While I had made some progress in reviewing my life, Monday was approaching – the day I would learn what gift the biopsy holds for me. It was like a wrapped present and the results were concealed inside. Some knew the contents but most, including myself, did not. The nights had been restless for me ever since I was admitted to the hospital. After my release, it was still difficult to return to a regular sleep schedule,
Sunday night was no different as I changed positions frequently, still with great difficulty since the catheter was still hanging around with me. I got out of bed to check my email and facebook status, but quickly returned to the warmth and security the bed provided. It was almost like a harbor where I could lay and allow my thoughts to continue wondering. Soon, however, I would have to make that final leap and hope that the day would be a good one for me.
Grandson Aaron came early and joined Vida and myself for the short trip to Dr. Wood’s office. I tried to keep my mind occupied with cheap talk just hoping I could somehow refuse any thoughts that may still be enlightening me.
I entered the examination room alone and the nurse, with great confidence, but also with delicate care, removed the catheter and explained everything was going well. I asked if I could speak with Dr. Woods and she called him into the room. I was expecting some sort of drum roll or some other colorful introduction, but Dr. Woods just casually said: “there was no cancer.”
It is unexplainable what a relief those few words meant to me. All the thoughts I had throughout the preceding week seemed to wrap themselves up into a tight ball of mixed emotions. I knew the prognosis was good but I also realized I had a lot of work to do. Still, I was ready to take on these responsibilities for myself, my family and all others involved – including my obligations to God by continuing my service to Him in the best way I know how.
It is my hope that others do not have to find themselves in a similar situation before realizing the Blessings that surround all of us.
Merry Christmas to all and to all a Wonderful Life…