Our previous installment outlined what happened during the March 2nd surgery to rebuild me into something faster and stronger…or at least something that doesn’t require a catheter. That was going okay for a while, just wait two weeks and the Foley catheter would come out. But, man, the bleeding…is this normal? Called the urology office, blah, blah, “as long as no fever, pus, or signs of infection…”, blah, blah. A few days later, a young lady calls me for follow-up, and ends the conversation with “how’s the bleeding?” I told her that I honestly didn’t know. No one had physically laid eyes on me since I’d left the hospital (yeah, novel corona virus and reduction of in-person office visits), so I don’t know if this bleeding is normal or not. Seems it should have stopped by then, eh? She asked, “do you want to come in?” Umm, yeah, I would.
So off we went to Seattle. At 4:00 p. m. on a weekday. Oh, well, if it takes ninety minutes, that’s what it takes. Except “corona virus!” and by then everyone was pretty much heading for the exits and working from home. The 520 freeway didn’t exactly have tumbleweeds blowing down the middle of it, but it was close. Best Redmond->Seattle commute I’ve ever had. When later walking around our neighborhood, Katherine would comment that traffic is like it was when we moved here twenty years ago.
Once at the urologists, we are seen by the physician’s assistant. The theory is that the catheter is causing irritation, so it was going to come out. Before that happened, they filled me with fluid via that same catheter, then the catheter came out. The reason the nurse topped off the radiator tank was to make sure that I empty in a reasonable manner. That’s when the cause of our bleeding became obvious: that catheter was stretched way too tight, and that’s what was causing the irritation. And, hoo boy, that catheter didn’t come out easy, either. But it was quick, and I peed like a champ, so home I went. The bleeding gradually tapered off as the days went on; problem solved.
Or was it? Remember that big scrotal wound from the original infection? Well, it had healed up nicely to a small hole. Problem was, urine would occasionally come out of that wound hole, as well as the end of my penis. *sigh*, let’s send the doc an email and some pics. The problem with that is that the medical office doesn’t seem to receive any communications from me from either email or the iOS application that holds medical records. I ended up calling the doctor. He assured me that urine flowing out of that hole would be fine. “Sure about that?”, I thought, because we were originally told that wouldn’t be the case. No matter, we had an appointment with the wound care clinic on Thursday, April 9th, so we’ll ask about that when we’re there.
Dr. Lopez de Castilla said it wasn’t a wound care issue anymore, it was a surgeon issue. There were also some small blister-like things around the new pee hole that the doctor noticed. Hmm, that’s new. Since I’d had little success getting hold of the surgeon, Dr. Lopez called him. That got action, the urology surgeon himself called before we got to the car. In the mean time, we left the wound care clinic for the last time. I’m going to miss those folks, to a person each was kind and helpful, and tried their best to get us supplies and answers to our questions.
Once at University of WA Harborview, the full corona virus screening was on, as it was at the Evergreen Hospital when we went to wound care. Up the elevator, and off to the urologist. Dr. Wingate reiterated what he had said earlier, with clarifications. The original wound hole? That’s about as healed as it gets. What about the urine? It is absolutely fine for urine to pass through there, and there is no risk of Fournier’s gangrene returning. “So to summarize, if we leave everything as it is now, even with sometimes peeing out of what are now two holes, I can go on with my life just fine and no infections or other horrible stuff.”
“No more wound care? Katherine’s off the hook now?
“I can live with that. Not what I was expecting, but I can live with it. So what’s next? When do I resume normal activity?”
“Ease back into it, but as of this coming Monday it will have been six weeks, so have at it. No extreme yoga or ultra marathons, but get back to it. And then I’ll see you in July.”
That’s it, that’s as good as this whole deal gets. Come for the gangrene, stay for the new pee hole (which you’re going to need). I pee out of one new hole mostly, sometimes two if I’ve had a lot of coffee (and therefore increasing fluid pressure such that it pushes past that surgical site). No more infections, and get back to what I was doing before Christmas. It has been four months of extremely restricted activity and a lot of not leaving the house (now we’re all in that boat). Four months of Katherine having to patiently dress that wound, and check that I’m not literally falling apart at the seams. Thankfully it has been four of Washington’s winter months, but to go from very active to no activity is difficult. But it does make me more empathetic to those that have continuing health issues.
Four months of just about every everyday activity being just a little bit more of a hassle (or in some cases, a lot more hassle). Gotta poop? Careful, don’t get any on that surgery site or anywhere near that wound. Check that catheter bag lately? They get full when you’re not looking. Oh, careful when you sit down. I mean careful, a bit tender down there. And four months of Katherine having no help around here, with extra responsibilities to boot. (She had to mow last week, I’m not pushing a mower just yet.) Now that’s done, and back to what will now be my “normal” life. I must say, it is nice to now just bound out of bed and hit the bathroom without ceremony. And I’m looking forward to that slooooow run on Monday.