Asymptomatic; having no symptoms of illness or disease.
For almost 7 years now, that is how I have been described by my doctors. I guess for the most part they are right, I don’t show signs of illness or disease. One aspect no one sees though is the sheer pain I endure each operation, and the month or so recovering thereafter.
For those that don’t know, I have bladder cancer, and as mentioned in my first paragraph, it’s been almost 7 years now. In fact, February 2017 will be 7 years since my initial diagnosis.
To remove the bastard tumours in my bladder requires resection. In order to do this, you need to access it. This is achieved by going through the urethra with various cutting tools, and a camera — How that all fits inside the urethra is beyond me. I did YouTube it once and barely made it past the first 10 seconds of the video. Once the tumours are removed, a garden size hosepipe catheter is installed to ensure there are no blockages due to blood clots from the wounds.
That catheter and the long lasting consequences of its removal are my single point of sheer fear of these operations. I am anaesthetized during the entire operation and, therefore, feel nothing. Unfortunately though, I am 100% fully awake when that garden hose is removed. But why people ask, as if I have never pondered a less painful alternative.
To answer, the way it was described to me during my initial operations was that the patient needs to be cognisant of the fact that the catheter has been removed and that they can urinate — Due to the fact that the bladder has been operated on, and tumours resected, the lining can be thin and fragile. It is, therefore, imperative that the patient is alert and can urinate when the bladder feels full…which is pretty much every 5 minutes after the procedure. That way it never has time to fill up and…I guess…pop. If you are drugged heavily, the risk is that you could sleep deeply, overfill the bladder, and eventually let it pop.
In recent attempts to negate this pain, irrespective of the popping risk. I strategically planned to get a *pethidine injection prior to the removal of my garden hose, unfortunately, the result was much the same. I felt everything with the same intensity as having not had the pethidine injection. It seems there is just no way around it. In any event, that pain, whilst seriously excruciating, is temporary and short lived. The real pain comes in when that catheter is out and you need to urinate.
And it lasts for, I kid you not, almost 1 full month after my operation. I presume it is a combination of the urethra either being torn or stretched and then the acidic urine passing through it? Not to mention the cutting within the actual bladder. Whatever it is, it is painful every single time I go to the bathroom for that month after the operation. Having an operation every 3 months equates to roughly 4 operations per year. 4 out of 12 months equals 33,33% of my year being fully immersed in the most excruciating pain when going to the bathroom.
So…asymptomatic they say…well yes in the sense of the definition, but no, not in terms of a holistic approach. Whilst I may portray a strong athletic(ish) physique, smiles, jokes, and laughter…I feel pain, I feel it frequently and intensely…and I do not enjoy it…
*Pethidine; a drug similar to morphine and heroin.