Friday, July 27, 2018

My Cystoscopy

Perhaps there is a bit of vanity in this post as I did survive what for many is a scary procedure.  But my motive is really to assure others that there is nothing to be afraid of.  What follows is my experience, and obviously each experience has some uniqueness.

Like many men of my age, awhile back it became quite noticeable that I was getting up multiple times to go to the bathroom each night and it became quite tiring.  Eventually I was encouraged to seek medical advice and was given a bunch of tests that assured me that I did not have cancer, but that I did have an enlarged prostrate.  I was given a referral to an urologist.

The first efforts were to try different prescriptions but they didn't seem to have any impact except for side effects.  The main effect was to make me drowsy which made me less functional both at work and at home and in between.  I also had some headaches, but I attributed them to being tired and needing new bifocals.

The original urologist moved and I opted to get another referral so I could keep my appointments within walking distance.

Dr. Marc Fischer looked over the various test results and asked a few questions.  He decided it was time to take a closer look at what might be causing my problem.  This was the first time I heard the word "cystoscopy" with an explanation.  Basically a tube with a camera is stuck up your penis.  My assumption that this would happen while anesthetized turned out to be incorrect as not worth while for such a very short examination.  On the surface it sounded pretty scary, but the doctor explained in some detail ending that most patients felt a little "disappointed" because it was relatively painless and over so quickly.  

Dr Fischer had a good sense of humor which serves him well to help relax his patients.  In his office he has a calming type of music that also helps.  An appointment for about one week away with not much time to debate.  Also a request for some more tests.  I took the tests early the next day to minimize time lost.

I checked out the location the weekend before so I wouldn't get  lost.  When the day came I drove up to the hospital before the surgical unit was open and ended up in a waiting area.  I haven't spent any time as a patient in a hospital since I was in grade 2 so the procedures were all new to me.  At the Juravinski Hospital in Hamilton  everything was well organized.   I was guided to a change room and told they had two gowns--one the traditional one that is open at the back but also another one that covered your back. I was told to take off only my pants and underwear leaving me with my shoes and shirt.  My pants were where my wallet was kept, but I was given a locker to put my pants into and attached a key to my gown.

Next I found myself sitting in a comfortable chair while a nurse asked me some standard questions.  I had my blood pressure and  heart beat monitored and my temperature taken.   I had been confused about the request to come with a moderately full bladder.  It turned out they wanted me to urinate into a special bowl that measures and analyzes.  After that I was given a different sort of  ultra sound to test how thoroughly I had emptied my bladder.

A nurse led me to a surgical room and soon Dr Fischer came with his surgical clothing and humor.  I told him that I had done the tests last week and he went to check the results.  All this time he is telling me to relax and not rush.  He explained again what to expect.  Some sort of cold (but not too cold) jelly was put over my penis and somehow penetrated inside.  I was not too conscious they had inserted a tube, but the doctor warned when to expect a little extra pressure  and it was over soon.  All this time he had a screen he could look at and asked if I wanted to look at it.  My glasses had been taken off and although the nurse offered to recover them I felt it was more relaxing to leave them off and besides I wouldn't really know what I was looking at.

Fortunately the doctor did know what he was looking at and described some significant features.  He made it sound like nothing was too serious.  An option is always surgery, but Dr Fischer and the previous urologist leave that step until after they have tried prescription drugs.  Drugs can always be changed, modified or cut off, but it is more difficult to undo surgery.  I will confess that a concern of mine was if I could drink alcohol while taking a new drug prescription as the two previous prescriptions advised against it.  Dr Fischer told me that alcohol would not cause any significant side effects, but that if drunken after 6 p.m. would itself naturally encourage urination.

The actual procedure lasted less than two minutes.  I won't concede that I was disappointed, more like relieved.  Despite what I had been told I was surprised that what little pain there was and that I was immediately able to walk normally with no discomfort and no aids.

On the way home I stopped off at my pharmacist to get a prescription and was told it would take about 20 minutes.  I decided to walk around  a long block.  When I got home I ended up walking down town, about one kilometre and then back with no pain.   In the afternoon I was able make a few calls, email a few letters and sort through my data base at home.  The next day back to normal work pattern.

However I had also been warned that urinating would probably involve a burning sensation and I might even see a little blood.  I did deal with a sharp burning type of pain that lasted less than 3 seconds, but made me hesitate.  As the day wore on and I drank water as suggested the sensation lessened so that by night it was not noticed and there was no visible sign of blood.

It is too soon to assess the new prescription, but I am encouraged and confident that a solution will be found..

I wish I could say it would go as smoothly for everyone, but that wouldn't be fair.  The Juravinski Hospital is very professional and Dr Marc Fischer is very capable and confident inspiring.  Also you might have a more urgent or different prognosis.  It is better to find out sooner rather than put off the cystoscopy.

Today medicine has advanced tremendously and I suspect the future will be even better.

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