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Finding Humor in Trying Times

Created: 03/02/2011
Last Updated: 08/13/2012

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By Sylvia L. Ramsey

Training my new bladder began after the stitches and clamps were removed following my bladder cancer surgery. The first step was the daytime training. I began by clamping off the tube that drained into the large urine bag. I would try to keep it clamped as long as I could. When I felt uncomfortable, I was to drain it into the toilet. It  took awhile to be able to keep the tube clamped for two-hour segments. The nighttime training would begin after I mastered this. I went back to work before I had completely mastered the daytime training. That is a story for later. 

The daytime training went fairly well. I grew brave and decided to take my first trip, other than to see the doctor. The trip was short. My daughter-in-law took me to a store to pick up some supplies. I had no sooner arrived than I had to go to the bathroom. I think I had drunk too many fluids that morning, and my urostomy bag had filled on the trip to the store. I went into the bathroom. My daughter-in-law waited outside with the cart. 

Inside the stall I felt a bit embarrassed about having to stand in front of the commode to empty my bag. Just as I managed to get my skirt up and everything was going well toward reaching my goal of emptying the urostomy bag, I heard the bathroom door open and footsteps running toward my stall. The next thing I knew, a woman yanked the door open, startling me. I turned to see this woman staring at me, her mouth open, and then she screamed. She slammed my stall door and ran out of the bathroom. 

At first, I was embarrassed, humiliated and shocked. Then, the humor of the situation took over. I started trying to imagine what the woman thought she saw. I began laughing—at myself and at her reaction. I was still laughing when I came out of the bathroom. My daughter-in-law asked me what was so funny. I asked her if she had seen a woman run out of the bathroom. She said she had. I told her that if she heard a rumor going around that a transvestite was in the ladies' bathroom that she was probably talking about her encounter with me. I still laugh about that experience, but it did make me self-conscious about using public restrooms. 

My next trip to my doctor gave me another laugh. He sent me to the lab for X-rays, and I was to bring the X-rays back with me to the doctor's office as soon as they were finished. On the way up the elevator, I read the radiologist's comments. The report said that everything looked fine, but that I had an abnormal umbilical. I was still chuckling when I walked in the doctor's office and handed him the X-rays. He wanted to know what was so funny. I told him to read the report. He said he'd go with me when he ordered that kind of imaging again—and he did.

Check back here to read more from Sylvia. Plus, read more of her story on boutron:








Learn more about bladder cancer and about Sylvia L. Ramsey, cancer survivor, advocate, author and public speaker, at: , and .

Comments

I can see why you were laughing. Next time lock the door. I don't understand the abnormal umbilical.

Hello Kip,
Hello Kip,

I will try to explain why. It was funny because the bladder had been removed. The Indiana Pouch is made from a part of the small bowel (ileum), and part of the large bowel (the cecum and the ascending colon). The stoma is the end part of the bowel brought to the outside of the abdomen. You will pass the catheter into the stoma to drain urine from the new pouch. My naval is an "inny", so the doctor placed the stoma just "inside" the recessed area of the naval. Therefore, it is not visible as it would have been if it had been on my side. The radiologist obviously had never seen this before, so he thought the stoma was the umbilical cord on the inside. That is why the doctor said he would go with me when he had scans or x-rays ran. He wanted to see himself, and not rely on interpretations made by someone who did not know what they were seeing. That is a major problem, lack of information about bladder cancer, even in the medical field.

Sylvia

Kip,

Let me try to explain why it was funny to my doctor and me. When you have a radical cyscectomy, the bladder is removed. The Indiana Pouch is made from a part of the small bowel (ileum), and part of the large bowel (the cecum and the ascending colon). The stoma is the end part of the bowel brought to the outside of the abdomen. You will pass the catheter into the stoma to drain urine from the new pouch.

Because my navel is an "inny", the doctor brought the stoma outside of the abdomen, inside the area where my naval button is located. You cannot see it. It was obvious by this comment that the radiologist had never seen anything like this. The x-ray showed the section of my small intestine connecting to my naval, which apparently he/she interpreted as an umbilical cord (still on the inside).
This is why it was funny to my doctor and I because we knew what he saw, and it is why my doctor said he was going to be present when he wanted tests run. He wanted to see for himself, and not rely on someone who had not been informed on this type of surgery. For the first year, my doctor scheduled my tests when he could be present.

Unfortunately, this is fairly typical and is a good example of how little information is out there, even in the medical world. That is why I am doing this, to try to help change that.

Sylvia

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