two years ago i wake up and need to go to the bathroom, but i can't.
i try, but i can't.
now being in my fifties, there is a lot of reference to this kind of thing, and i just put it down to my age, and go back to bed hoping that i can get back to sleep.
but i can't, my bladder is full and needs to be emptied, my stomach is starting to hurt a little, and i know i need to pee.
i get up and go back to the bathroom, and try to go, but even straining, nothing comes out.
now this is weird, and i start to get a little spooked about what is happening, and i try to stay calm and rational, and rack my brain for any scrap of knowledge i might have in my brain, about similar things happening to anyone i have ever known or read about.
i have nothing, this is not a phenomenon i am aware of.
as my stomach starts to really hurt, i try to make myself pee, with such force it makes me wince.
i am now starting to get a little edgy, as the pain is starting to build and is becoming more intense with every wave that washes over me every couple of minutes.
"arrrggh", i let out as quiet a moan as i can at the midnight hour, and feel myself almost fainting as i try so hard to force my muscles to work.
the noise i make wakes the gaffer, and she comes in to see what is happening.
i explain, and tell her i will be fine, though at that point i knew i wasn't gonna be fine unless somebody unplugged the apparent blockage, and allowed me to release the build up that was now resulting in the levels of pain becoming excruciating, and more frequent.
every minute i was starting to scream and nearly fainting as i tried to push for all my life to pass water, imagining that it was something that pure effort could correct.
"i've rung an ambulance" tania informed me.
now i'm not a 'ring an ambulance kinda guy'.
"great, let's go" i exclaimed.
the journey to the hospital felt like i was about to give birth, and i can only guess that contractions feel slightly similar, girls i always applaud you, but this brought me closer to understanding your dedication to the continuation of mankind than ever.
by the time we reached the hospital i felt extremely weak with all the screaming and straining, and i had no idea how this was going to play out, or what was even wrong with me, was i dying, was this going to be the end, what the heck was happening?
tania did the hospital admin, whilst i hobbled, doubled over towards the toilet, still with the belief that i was going to break the seal, and all would be right.
as i closed the toilet door, a wave of pain like no other washed over me, and i let out an almighty scream, and went faint, falling against the white tiles, just managing to grab onto the cold chromium handrail, don't die smith, don't die in some crappy hospital toilet.
i had dropped to my knees, and mentally imagined being found trousers unzipped, head in the toilet bowl, surely this wasn't to be my last hoorah!
i heard knocks on the door, and voices asking about my wellbeing.
my brain gained some oxygen, and the pain subsided.
i tidied myself up, and opened the door, still doubled over.
"come with me mr smith" the senior looking nurse beckoned, as i shuffled toward a cubicle.
"can you lift yourself onto the bed?" she asked.
i nodded, as i felt another wave stirring form the pit of my stomach.
i tried to suppress the scream, and instead made some kind of noise that a wounded animal would make in a forest in a horror movie.
as i managed to get onto the bed with the sterile blue plastic covering i still had no idea what was happening, until the nurse explained to me, we are going to catheterise you mr smith, which i kind of guessed what it meant, and nodded in agreement, trusting what was about to happen to be the best course of action.
"please lower your trousers mr smith, i am going to anaesthetise your penis internally with this needle and gel, and then insert a catheter through your urethra, into your bowel to release the urine, we think your prostate is enlarged which is blocking things."
you had me at 'anaesthetise your penis internally with this needle and gel' i thought!
i grimaced as the hugest needle i have still to this day ever seen came towards me.
"not long now mr smith" she assured me, and i saw her unwrap what she was going attempt to insert into my bowel, via the smallest diameter tube i owned.
i looked away as she did what nurses thankfully do.
the anaesthetic hadn't done it's full job, and i gritted my teeth as i felt the long rubber tube enter my bowel.
as soon as it did, the urine flowed into a bag the nurse suspended on the bed beside me, and the pain started to subside, and the world was a better place.
"oh my god that's amazing, thank you so much", i exclaimed, and sunk back into the soft pillow, exulted.
turns out my prostate had indeed for some reason enlarged, blocked things up, and resulted in the crazies happening.
when the urologist arrived to explain things to me, i was far more happier, and wanted to get out of hospital asap.
"so mr smith, we'd like to give you some tablets, and then look at you either staying in overnight, or keeping the catheter in for a couple of days at home until the prostate shrinks back to it's normal size."
"hmmmm, how about i take the tablets, take the catheter out, and i go home?" i stupidly negotiated, with tania glaring at me with 'that' look.
"well it might be better to keep the catheter in mr smith, if you leave hospital"
"how about, i start taking the tablets immediately, take the catheter out, go home, and if it happens again i'll come back and put the catheter in?" i countered.
"ok mr smith, that should be ok."
i noticed tania shaking her head, she knew and the doctor knew, the fact of this matter is i am the worlds supreme optimist, and sometimes, just sometimes a little overpowering with it.
(i wonder how many blog readers are smiling at that last sentence?)
as we left hospital, minus my rubber tubular friend, the trees looked greener, and the sun brighter, and i took my first tablets hoping they would start reducing the size of my prostate pronto.
9pm that night was when i admitted that my plan was actually not working.
"i need to go back" i informed tania, "the pain has started again.
yes, i am an idiot.
yes i should have listed to the doc, but seriously, would you want to be walking around with a catheter in your pants?
no is the answer that we will all, if we're honest, admit to.
anyway, that was what happened, i had the catheter fitted again, same procedure, ouch, and then the only way to urinate was to use my flip flow valve.
now a flip flow valve is genius, and i still find it quite amusing in some childish way.
the tube comes out my penis, and at the end of the 200mm tube is a valve, which when your bladder feels full, you go to the toilet, hold the plastic end, flip the valve to open, and your bladder empties, simple.
it's really not a biggy, and works fine in almost all situations.
though i did have one mishap.
whilst driving to see a client in llandeilo, approximately ninety minutes drive in the summer, i had the lid down on my car, and merrily made my way through the leafy lanes, enjoying my world, and the whole driving experience, until about ten miles to my destination i thought i must have accidentally put my heated seats on, and my bum and legs were feeling somewhat warmer than they should have been.
i realised they weren't on and when i looked down i saw that i had sweat marks on my jeans which was really strange, but further investigation revealed, that somehow, i must have accidentally knocked my flip flow valve on my newly acquired rubber friend open, and as my bladder had performed it'd function perfectly, so i had slowly been peeing myself, as my flip flow valve has no muscle or mind to control it, it is a free spirit with but one job, to flow or not to flow, almost shakesperian, and if the human controlling it accidentally flips it the wrong direction, it will not question that decision, as unfortunately for me, it has no emotional intelligence.
i arrived at my clients, only needing to do literally five minutes work, and i decided to take my black notebook and try to hide the wet jeans i now possessed, and do a sort fan dance almost like a burlesque dancer, never allowing my dirty little secret to be revealed.
open door with left hand, right hand positioning book over wet area.
swap hands to allow for right handed hand shake.
move close to counter to sign visitors book, etc etc, you get the jist.
i left the job, hoping i had not been discovered, and chuckled all the way back to cardiff, my life is somewhat weird sometimes.
so that was two years ago, and since then the phenomenal expanding prostate has been monitored quite closely, and whilst not shrinking to where the docs have wanted, what it has meant is i have had a number of internal examinations, eventually succumbing to the inevitable biopsy, to see if i had the big c.
but the period between biopsy to being given the all clear was pretty rubbish i have to say, but the relief of hearing that i didn't have that battle ahead was great.
and this is the main reason for writing this blog today.
the reason i didn't write my blog yesterday was that i had a flare up of the enlargement, and was readmitted to hospital, as i had exactly the same pain and retention of water two years ago, and i was sat in hospital rather than scribing my weekly prose.
it was a lot easier this time around, and i wasn't scared as i knew what was ahead.
as i sit here now, with my flip flow catheter doing its thing until next week, and hopefully my course of meds will sort things out, but the reason for telling you all of this is for one reason only.
if you're a geezer, and you haven't had your prostate checked in the last twelve months, please make an appointment asap, as regular checks can help spot problems, and if discovered early you can save your life.
and if you're female and you have a husband, partner, friend, dad, relative that you love, ask them if they get checked regularly, and if they don't, then encourage them to.
as men we don't like this sort of thing, and you will receive pushback, and avoidance, but really, if you can save one man having this excruciating pain that i have had, and better still getting the big c, then it's worth it i reckon.
so as christmas fast approaches i hope you have a lovely break, and reconnect with people you love, and that love you, and enjoy the time together, as we all know it goes too quickly and we need to always make the most of it.
thanks for reading and supporting,
much love and blue skies,