Taking the low road

I had what I thought of as a rolling stone in my bladder. It was estimated to be about 4 mm. in diameter. It had to be removed. Having been told that it is possible to have the stone crushed and washed away, I consulted a urology specialist associated with the public hospital which had (I had been told officially) the only crusher in the State.

After a 6-hour drive, I spoke with this consultant. He agreed to crush and remove the stone. He also said, much to my surprise, that he would give me a TURP (trans-urethral resection of the prostate). Since I had not been waking up in the night to empty my bladder, I asked why. He said that I would not need to have the procedure done later in my life. I made a serious mistake; I agreed.

Following a 4-hour wait garbed in a backside-exposing gown and a cap, I met the urologist and the anaesthetist in the theatre. 2 hours later, as I was recovering from the anaesthesia, I heard a voice: ‘I couldn’t find it’! I never met the owner of the voice during the next 4 days.

Eventually, I realised that I had been operated on by a registrar (presumably a trainee surgeon), but under supervision; that he must have cleared a passageway a little wider than 4 mm. to be able to wash out the stone; no crushing had taken place; and that the TURP must have been the procedure of choice!

Eight weeks after the operation, I bled freely for about 8 hours. To avoid clotting, I drank half a glass of water every half hour, until about 3 am. (I had suffered from clotting while I was in the hospital.) The next day, the specialist said that he could not explain the bleeding. I suspected that a scab formed length-wise on a blood vessel had come adrift. If so, had all the cut blood vessels been adequately cauterised?

Three years later, I could not empty a near-full bladder. Experienced staff in the Emergency Department of the nearest hospital found the urethra blocked; finally they managed to place the catheter. After a 3-day stay in the hospital, I consulted the best urologist in the capital city.

Three days later, in a private hospital, the urologist worked for an hour on me. He had found a tumour! Had its growth been triggered by the massive duct cut into my prostate 3 years earlier? Why else would a quiescent prostate grow a tumour? Are cancer cells now lurking in my prostate?

There was no point in questioning or complaining; to what end? I would meet with a wall of purity of intent.