Yesterday I had a urodynamics test. I had been dreading it for weeks because the brochure had forewarned they’d be inserting tubes and detectors up my two lower exit holes. From previous experiences I knew what that was like. However, yesterday’s actual experience was nothing like any of my fantasizing scenarios. It never is. That’s a good philosophical lesson. Don’t ruin your days with worry.
Getting old is full of new experiences, especially relating to medical exams. Often these experiences aren’t very nice, but sometimes they’re interesting, and occasionally they’re fun if you have the right doctor or technician. I like talking with people, and I love technology, but I ain’t too keen when the people I’m talking to are shoving technology into my orifices. Yet, sometimes the overall experience can be fun.
One of the ways you know you’re getting old is when the number of prescriptions and doctor visits start increasing. There’s a feeling of being trapped. You just don’t want to be experiencing what you’re experiencing, but there is no escape. Well, I try to find the humor in such situations, and maybe even a story for my blog.
It’s easy to feel sorry for yourself when your body starts breaking down and you have to do things you really don’t want to do. I’ve found a number of ways to avoid self-pity. Whenever I’m in a waiting room I look around at the other people. Often it makes me feel like the luckiest person in the room. Yesterday while I waited for the urodynamics test the guy on my right was passing kidney stones while crying softly and groaning. The woman on my left came in with a half full urine bag strapped to her left. It filled as we waited. I know what a full bag feels like. I was the lucky one.
As you get older many of your friends will have medical problems too. Another reason I can’t feel sorry for myself is I’m not sure I’d trade my problems for any of the medical problems my friends have, even though some of my friends tell me how much they pity me.
Anyway, I was in the urology waiting room watching the staff come and go from the door that leads back to the testing rooms. I was evaluating each person by whether or not I wanted them to be the person to see me naked and insert catheters up my Johnson. I didn’t want anyone too young because I feel sorry for young people having to see old naked bodies. I didn’t care if they were male or female. I figure I’m a dog at the vet to them. Actually, I’m partial to older nurses who have some experience and compassion. I did see one really good looking blonde and hoped it wasn’t her. It was. At least she was middle aged.
My nurse took me into a room with a very weird looking chair with a giant funnel and bucket in front of it. Next to the chair was a fancy tech desk with two giant monitors hooked to a computer. To the right was a cart with catheters hanging down its side in plastic sleeves, and everywhere was stacks of pads, and small towels.
The nurse was very friendly telling me about how she’d been reviewing my records, so I felt she already knew me. She said she’d step out of the room to give me some privacy. I was to take off my pants and shoes but leave on my socks and shirts, get into that weird chair, and drape little blanket across my lap. I told her I didn’t have any modesty left, meaning she didn’t need to leave, but she did. I always feel weird waiting naked in strange rooms. I wonder why stripping is still considered a part of modesty when they do the things they do to you.
When she returned she showed me the catheters she was going to put up my urethra – I wasn’t sure if it was one double one, or two separate ones – and the flexible computer sensor which I assumed was some kind of ultrasound probe that was going in my ass. Of course, she said rectum, which I think is a gross word, but the socially acceptable term for these gettogethers.
I told her how relieved I was to see how small her tubes were because my other doctors had been shoving much larger ones up the same small holes.
She then activated a switch that raised my chair up in the air. That startled me being up so high. However, it made sense. I was being put up on a rack like a car at Firestone because my nurse needed to get at my undercarriage. I pictured thousands of people she had to look at from that angle and said, “You really have a very strange job.” She laughed.
The purpose of the test was to fill my bladder with water and then drain it, monitoring the flow, amount, and I guess electrical activity.
I won’t try to describe the weird sensations and discomfort the insertions caused. They weren’t too hard to endure, and once they were in I didn’t feel too much. Then she started clipping leads to a EKG like machine to taped on sensors around my lower extremities. This let the computer monitor my electrical activity. It would also show on the screen how many milliliters went in and how many came out, but I wasn’t sure how it did that. Maybe a very sensitive scale under my pee pot.
The nurse then warned me she was going to start pumping water into my bladder. As she did this she told me to imagine I was driving on a highway and I should tell her how desperate I felt to find a pitstop to pee. So I said things like, “I feel the need to pee, so I would be looking for a place.” Or, “I’d be most anxious by now.” Or, “I wish I had an empty bottle.”
91ml in, and 90ml out, way below the normal 400-500ml. She told me I wasn’t like the typical person who has an overactive bladder. They go 12-15 times a day. I was going 28-33 times. But the revelation was my bladder was completely emptying. Up till now all the doctors had told me I wasn’t emptying my bladder.
The nurse said I probably had something different and the doctor would talk about it when I saw him next Friday. But she did say I had probably conditioned myself to pee too often. The nurse said I also didn’t have other indicators of an overactive bladder. That my bladder wasn’t showing spasms. I had been reading about this. Something like a tenth of the U.S., 37.5 million people, have an overactive bladder. Strangely, I had recently read an article on Flipboard about how it was bad to always pee before you leave the house or office, which is something I’ve always done.
What I learned was really good news for me. Although, the doctor might tell me something different, but I’m thinking if I conditioned my bladder to pee too often I could retrain it to pee less. The nurse did say there were some treatments they could do to expand my bladder, but I want to hold off until I see if I can change things myself. Besides, being knocked out and having them stretch my bladder with hundreds of milliliters of water sounds awful.
While all this was going on I chatted with the nurse about her equipment and details of urological problems. She showed me a bag of water and said that was the amount a typical bladder could hold. I told her I didn’t think I ever peed that much. A bottle of store bought water is often 500ml, which is about that size. I got to spend over an hour with this nice nurse, so I grilled her for information. I only see the doctor for minutes, so I’m always left with lists of unanswered questions, and I was overjoyed to talk shop with her.
In other words, I had been dreading yesterday for weeks, but when it finally happened, I was very happy with the results and even considered the experience interesting and fun (although a bit weird and painful.)
I do try to find my inner Pollyanna in these kinds of situations. It really helps when people are snaking tubes up my little Willie.