Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Stent Removal

It's funny how sometimes your biggest worries turn out to be nothing. Take for example, the stent removal process.

It has been on my mind since I found out about it in the hospital. I tried to push it out of my thoughts as much as possible, but it kept coming back, banging at my brain like a bad dream. I was not looking forward to anybody, doctor or otherwise, sticking anything (no matter how small) into my penis.

So this morning as the nurse lead me into a special room and told me to undress from the waist down and lay under a thin sheet of hospital paper, I was worried. It's funny because I wasn't worried or nervous about major transplant surgery, recovery, hospital stay, clinic visits, etc. All of that was a walk in the park. But something about this whole "stent removal" had me on edge.

I laid there half naked on the table for several minutes before Dr. Putnum came in. He was friendly and to the point.

DR. PUTNUM: "OK, I know it's weird having something inserted into your penis, but this is a relatively painless and it's a quick procedure."

JAKE: "As long as I don't feel anything, I'll be OK."

DR. PUTNUM: "Well, you'll feel it, but it shouldn't be painful. I'm going to talk you through it. Think of it as a mind over matter state of consciousness. It's all about relaxing."


DR. PUTNUM: (Throwing back the hospital paper to look at my lower naked body.) "Here comes some soap... So, you had a transplant?"

JAKE: "Yeah, four weeks ago. It's been great."

DR. PUTNUM: (Pulling over a weird looking machine dangling from the ceiling.) "That's lidocaine jelly, by the way. It will numb you a little bit but it's mostly for the insertion. So, were you ever on dialysis?"

JAKE: "Yes, as a matter of fact you saw me right before I started for an enlarged prostate."

DR. PUTNUM: "I did? I'm sorry, I didn't look at your chart. Did they want your prostate checked before you started dialysis?"

JAKE: "Oh, no. It was just enlarged. You checked me out and said it was nothing to worry about, gave me some pills and I got all better."

DR. PUTNUM: "Oh good. Any problems since then?"

JAKE: "Nope."

DR. PUTNUM: "Great. Well, here comes the insertion. That should feel nice and easy, it's going in smoothly not touching the sides of your skin or anything, right?"

JAKE: "Yeah, not bad."

DR. PUTNUM: "OK, that was the easy part. I'll stop there for a second. Now I'm at your sphincter muscles and your prostate. You're going to feel this. The trick here is to relax and loosen that muscle and keep it loose until I'm through. Ready?"

JAKE: (Taking a deep breath in and slowly breathing out.) "OK, ready."

DR. PUTNUM: "OK, relax the muscle, relax, relax... relax... relax... and... good."

JAKE: "You say relax, but man! It's not easy."

DR. PUTNUM: "OK, if you look at the screen here, there's the stent. Your bladder is empty which is good, but the stent is at a weird angle, so I'm going to try and get at it this way... Nope, didn't do it. Let's try this... No, OK... well, I'm going to have to fill you with a little bit of fluid to get the stent at a different angle."

JAKE: (Feeling liquid inside of me, and simultaneously spilling over my thighs. Am I peeing it right back out through the machine?) "OK." (I have the option to watch all of this on a little TV screen, but I decide not to. Instead, I just sort of look at the ceiling and listen to what Dr. Putnum is saying. Suddenly, I am aware of something small and metal near my bladder. It doesn't hurt, but I can feel him hook onto it.)

DR. PUTNUM: "Got it! OK, and we're coming out now. Coming out, coming out... coming out, and... we're done."

JAKE: "That's it?"

DR. PUTNUM: "That's it. Come back and see me only if you need to. Otherwise, here's a towel to wipe yourself off. Take your time getting dressed and have a good day."

JAKE: "I can't believe that was it. WOW! That was nothing! Thank you."

He left the room, I got dressed and went home. And that's how it went. So now I am free of foreign objects inside of me. At least I'm free of any foreign objects that need to be removed. I have to imagine that there are things in place for the transplant that will stay there for the life of the organs, but I'm not really sure. Perhaps I'll ask this afternoon when I go to my last clinic visit.

Anyway, if you are need of a stent removal at any point in your life, try not to worry so much about it. It is very quick, and very painless. It's slightly uncomfortable for a few seconds, but the whole thing is done in about 2 minutes.

Like I said before, isn't it funny how sometimes your biggest worries turn out to be nothing?

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