Warning: The following contains graphic material
With a Foley Catheter bag strapped to my leg, off I went to my original Urologist appointment where I was expecting him to remove the catheter and see what happens. But, nooooo. He was cautious that after three catheterizations, I still couldn’t void and suspected it was my enlarged prostate. I protested that it was the same prostate I had a month ago when I could pee. In fact, I’m the only adult I know who sleeps through the night. He theorized it was a combination of my two surgeries with anesthetic and slightly enlarged prostate; typical for a man my age. He recommended a procedure called T.U.M.T. (Transurethral Microwave Treatment) – a 45-minute office procedure where he sticks a catheter with a microwave antenna into my dick to heat and shrink the prostate accompanied by a thermometer up my butt to register the temperature. He almost had to pick me up off the floor at the thought of it.
My knees tingled at every word of research that I read about the procedure while I reached out to friends in the medical profession for their opinion. But T.U.M.T. seemed to be the next line of treatment without having surgery which caused these complications in the first place. I asked the Urologist if I could have a twilight sedative, but since it was an office procedure he would only prescribe Norco. Norco? Was he fucking nuts? I’d been on Norco for a month for my tongue. I was on Norco when he invaded every hole I have – and I was still screaming. I asked for Valium.
Three days, one valium and two Norcos later, I had a catheter with a heated microwave antenna so far down my urethra into my prostate, I think I was picking up HBO. And with a thermometer up my ass, I felt like a Thanksgiving turkey.
By breathing and chanting I got through the 45-minute procedure. But when the doctor inserted catheter #4 he had to scrape me off the ceiling. Between meds, antibiotics, catheterizations and T.U.M.T. the he felt it should clear up my Urinary Retention and I could change my name to Flo.
Catheterized for the fourth time was now a painfully familiar experience. The strangest part, was that the only way I knew I peed was if the bag strapped to my leg grew heavy. I could only forget the equipment was there, when I was asleep. But waking up every morning, I would peek under the covers and there it was, flesh and tubing that never failed to make my legs tingle with clinical creepiness.
A week later, the big day of bladder testing arrived. The doctor had instructed me to have the catheter removed in the morning, drink gallons of water and come back in the afternoon. He wasn’t there at 9AM, so the nurse removed the catheter and told me NOT to drink a lot of water – just my usual amount so I wouldn’t stress my bladder. So, all day I drank only three glasses of water and an ice coffee followed by a weak stream and drips that did seem to relieve me. At 4PM my doctor warned that he had instructed me to drink a lot of water all day. And I warned him that I’d rather jump out his window than be catheterized a fifth time. But happily, the scan showed my bladder was 85% empty which made him satisfied not to catheterize me. Yay! But since my voiding wasn’t based on maximum water, I felt I passed the test but failed the exam. I was thrilled to have a Penis Unchained, but remained cautious about if/when I would return to a normal stream.
After having my dick invaded and my prostate fried, there was still one part of my anatomy down there that was still working. And then at 3AM my testicle woke me up screaming, “WHAT ABOUT ME?” It felt like someone kicked me in the right nut and the pain was spreading to my abdomen and my back.
I feared I hadn’t been voiding enough and maybe I had a kidney infection. As the pain quickly spread, I called an Uber and went back to Hollywood Presbyterian. Driving me to Emergency, the Uber driver wanted to know what was wrong, and will now be forever haunted by details of my bladder, prostate and right testicle. It was 3AM Monday morning and my fourth time at Emergency. The doctor touched my right testicle that was so painful like putting a hand on a stove. She took a urine sample, blood and sent me for an Ultrasound with a Russian technician who must have worked for the KGB since it felt like she had my right ball in a waffle iron. “Very inflamed,” she stated. Ya think? The bladder scan showed I was about half empty, like I just won second prize on a bad Urinary Game Show. The loser gets Catheter #5. Results showed I had a Urinary Tract Infection; no surprise since I’d been catheterized four times. The doctor gave me a morphine drip for breakfast, prescribed an antibiotic and sent me home.
By now, my neighbors were asking, “How’s your bladder?” Friends prayed for my prostate and Buddhists were now chanting for my testicle. For the next few days, I wore an athletic support for the first time since eighth grade, iced my ball and took the antibiotics. And then, the next morning, halle-fucking-lujah I PEED! Never thought the sound of a constant stream would sound so sweet. I conquered tongue cancer. I just triumphed over Urinary Retention – but now I had a UTI. I called my Urologist for an appointment. The good news, I could finally pee. Bad news, you could play tennis with my right ball. But now that it was a different symptom, I needed to see my Primary Care Physician for insurance authorization.
Thursday, I saw my Physician who cupped my swollen ball and ordered blood tests and an ultrasound. I just had both those done three days ago! He didn’t trust Hollywood Presbyterian and so Friday morning, I went for more blood work. The Phlebotomist put me in a chair by the window. She told me to wait…and disappeared for twenty minutes. Sitting there, trying to stave off my needle phobia with thoughts of puppies and rainbows, I finally went looking for her. She forgot about me and had decided to take a nap! That evening, I went for my second ball ultrasound. Because it was an upscale facility in Beverly Hills, it was almost pleasant. After the technician removed her hand from my testicle I said she owed me dinner.
Saturday morning, Eddie came over and we were supposed to spend a beautiful day together. But I had a fever of 100.3, my back was in spasm and we could have played volleyball with my right testicle. Fearing maybe I had a kidney infection, Eddie took me to Emergency at Hollywood Presbyterian for the fifth time.
More blood, urine, and the ultrasound showed my testicle had gotten bigger because the previous E.R. doctor put me on an ineffective antibiotic. This doctor prescribed a stronger antibiotic and said I could go home. Five minutes later, she came back and said that I couldn’t go home. My heart rate was up to 120 and all other symptoms showed I didn’t meet the criteria for release. I would have to be admitted. But my insurance didn’t cover Hollywood Presbyterian. I was being moved to Los Angeles County General in East L.A. It’s the hospital in gangland you see on all the cop shows where they dump the bodies. In all these years, I had never been hospitalized and never been in an ambulance. Now, I was being transported to a small, dingy hospital that looked and smelled like a Motel 6. Having bonded with the ambulance team over my testicle, they cautioned me to make sure the hospital staff washed their hands and that I didn’t get scabies. Then, they wheeled me toward a ward where I expected to be a gang member’s bitch. But I was gratefully alone.
Sunday morning, the hospital Urologist asked to look at my testicle. I told him he was the only one in California who hadn’t. He recommended an antibiotic via I.V. which actually sounded like a good idea, rather than two pills a day. The Cardiologist, however, was concerned that my heart rate was still high. They said I might not go home till Tuesday. That night, they brought me a homeless roommate who had a psychotic break on the other side of the curtain at 4AM. He settled down Monday morning and I spent the day trying to convince him it was 2018. The Urologist came back in, squeezed my slightly softened ball and said I could go home. The Cardiologist came in and said I couldn’t go home due to my rapid heart rate. They gave me meds to lower my heart rate and that afternoon, was told I could go home. I was also told by various doctors and nurses that my testicular swelling would go down in 3-5 days, 3-5 weeks, 3-5 months, 3-5 years and never. I was released Monday afternoon with a new antibiotic prescription for Doxycycline.
The next day, I saw my Urologist and the bladder scan showed I was still voiding. Yay! Whew! He squeezed my ball (who hasn’t?) and said to keep taking the antibiotic. He told me it could take a month for the swelling to go down. Thank you. At least now I knew what I’m dealing with and could stop doing a ball-check every five minutes. Two days later, my Primary Physician called at 8AM and said he just saw my culture report and that I was immune to Doxyclene. He wanted to put me in the hospital that afternoon. This time, after dealing with months of medical misinformation, I rebelled, I refused. I insisted the two doctors get on the same page and get back to me. That afternoon, my Urologist’s assistant said my doctors had talked and were putting me on a third antibiotic. “Should I still take the Doxy?” She instructed me stop taking it. My Primary said take it for three more days. The Pharmacist said to finish it. I rest my case. During this time, I had a fever for ten days that fluctuated from 100 to 102 degrees with nightly sweats that required changing my sheets twice a night. But lo and behold, the new antibiotic had me peeing bubbles and my fever finally subsided.
It was the first summer in thirty years that I didn’t go to my beloved cottage in Canada. But with all the surprise complications from tongue to testicle, it was a wise decision to stay in L.A. where I had the care of my doctors, the love of my boyfriend and the support of family, friends, neighbors and Buddhists, who all helped me through pain, pills and prayers. I was told I was strong, brave and courageous. But I dunno. You never know how strong you can be until you’ve had part of your tongue cut off – or how high your pain threshold, until you’ve had microwave antenna slammed down your dick into your prostate. I’ve always been a man of action and you just do what you have to do to get through it.
I am now feeling human again. My private parts, which, after writing this are now my public parts, have returned to normal, my energy has returned, I’m putting on weight and am filled with gratitude that it had only been two and a half months whereas, so many people suffer through such health issues for years.
I’m forever grateful to have survived the summer of 2018.