After The Operation

Posted: 9 February 2013 in Cancer, On the Pilgrim's Road
Tags: ,
3 holes in just one arm

3 holes in just one arm

Had the cancer operation. And not by hands-on surgeons, but by the Da Vinci robot.  Yes, I kid you not – by robot. The same sort of technology that enables a beef/horse-burger eating techie in Utah to put an armed drone onto a jeep full of guys in Kandahar, piloted the knives in my innards to cut out my prostate gland. Nothing less. But nothing more either. The NHS surgeons told me that they were pleased – so I should be too. Millions of pounds of technology applied. Tax Payers out there – a big thanks!

The Shrinking Universe

I lie in bed, with 9 new holes in me and with a tube that seemed the size of Eurotunnel wacked up my penis. Oh, the visual shock is as big as the burning sensation from John Thomas. In a way that is the surprise to me. The general assault on the sense of self. The preoccupation with urine (both the filling of and emptying of catheter bags), faeces (post-op constipation), my penis (the constant ache of the catheter tug-tug with each step. That which only my mother saw when I was an infant, and only my wife saw at appropriate moments, is now readily displayed to every passing nurse with the question “does this look OK to you?”

            Not only are my nerves under constant jangling, so is my sense of personhood is under constant challenge. I have travelled and worked in far counties, interests that have roamed far and wide. But in the immediate aftermath of the operation, my mental world did not reach even as far as my waist. I told this to a friend of mine who commented that after he survived a family breakup, he was very wary of even leaving his house. For me now, the Universe is Expanding, but it is still small. It’s frontier has now reached the end of the bed.

Respect For Others

In the old days (B.C. or Before Catheter), as I rushed to work in the morning I would pass an elderly lady tottering back home clutching her daily paper. Each day carefully dressed, each step carefully taken, I was concerned that the sonic boom of my rapid passing would blow her over. I recall my father-in-law saying “Goodnight, I am going to use the bathroom then go to bed”, and what seemed an hour later I still heard him quietly padding about upstairs. Nowadays (A.D. or After DaVinci robot) I too enjoy an experience of becoming elderly: tottering carefully around the house, doubled up, unsure bodily functions, and a lessening grip of what day it is.  Am I “enjoying” an express passage from Stage 5 direct to Stage 7 of Shakespeare’s “Seven Stages of Man“ (As You Like It), to the second childhood? It is good to understand to understand others, and have greater respect for the efforts they make.  And easy too when I know that my present condition is likely to be temporary.

Shakespeare is acute in observation but wrong in deduction.  He said:

Last scene of all,
That ends this strange eventful history,
Is second childishness and mere oblivion,
Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.

Really? Whatever frailties are suffered, indignities endured, sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste yes, it certainly need not be sans everything and mere oblivion. What a mechanical view of humanity. His conclusion did not match the Christian view of humanity that he would have heard often in his time, and still gets heard occasionally today.

  1. warmginger says:

    Oh my, it sounds erm, grim…but also very funny, so I’m glad you’ve kept your sense of humour. I hope you get back to your old, younger self soon! 🙂

    • Bill says:

      Yes, it is grim, but it does get better. There are quite a number of 2lines” that get crossed in this situation – taboo is too blunt a word – that one can’t help having a chuckle. More to come………

  2. Dr Patrick in Uganda says:

    I am wishing you a quick recovery, may the Almighty heal you.

    • Bill says:

      Dr Patrick! Goodness, it is a nice surprise to hear from you. And best wishes in your medical work. When I feel my aches and pains, I recall the difficulties the patients had to face back in Kisiizi, and do not take for granted what I receive here.

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