Chapter 28 – Arrivederci

Chapter 28 – Arrivederci

June 21

This month marks the one-year anniversary of my new plumbing system. My Indiana Pouch became fully functional … and endlessly irritating, self-centered, and cranky … at the beginning of June last year. Now here it is, June next year already!

Some have suggested I should name it.

I mean … get serious.  Despite the allure it has for urologists and the like, it is after all a piece of gut, masquerading as a bladder. ICK! However, I understand the whole anthropomorphism appeal … give it a name and a birthday, and a zodiac sign …. yeah, that works …  it could be considered to be at the toddler stage … I wonder how one might calculate its lifespan … right now it is at the terrible two stage.

But I digress.

I had my one-year follow-up appointment with the surgeon and am good to go for 6 months, with everything ship shape and Bristol fashion … as they say. No cancer.
No kidney distress.
No infection.
No anemia. No anything else that is on their list of concerns.

So, this update is by way of being a wrap. I find that my trek through the world of cancer and its aftermath is, in large part, behind me. Instead, my focus has shifted

… to my artistic endeavors

… to new design challenges

… to plans for travel and entertainment

… to gardening

… to eating well

… to learning Italian

… to writing about my artworks

… and to the process of compiling these updates into a book format.

This last is a big exciting project. I am in the midst of writing commentary on the original updates, and in doing so am reminded of all that went before, and how meaningful it was to be in contact with all of you throughout my ordeal.

So, as a last gasp before I sign off, I want to take the opportunity to thank all of you who gave me your love, support and encouragement during the last year and a half.

…Thanks for the phone calls.

…Thanks for the visits.

…Thanks for bringing in the mail and taking out the trash

…Thanks for helping with the laundry.

…Thanks for driving me to and fro.

…Thanks for weeding my garden.

…Thanks for going to the grocery store.

…Thanks for the cookies and the soup and the sausage and the yogurt and the ice cream and all the other gifts and flowers and cards and … well, you get the idea. The Fickle Finger of Fate might have taken aim at me and put a target on my back, and Lady Luck might have had a hand in all that has come to pass, but my fabulous friends fashioned my recovery.

Thanks to you all.



So, I asked the surgeon

Q. Is this thing alive? Does it have nerves? Does it feel pain? Does it bleed? Does it respond to dietary orders? Does it get stressed by change? Does it ever settle down?

He looked slightly startled.

A. Of course it is alive! It has nerves and a blood supply and acts like your gut. Basically, I cut out a section of your intestine … Patched the two severed ends together … Took the cut-out piece and manipulated it into place … Sewed the ends closed to form a closed pouch … Attached it to your ureters … Punched a hole in your abdomen … Etc., etc. etc.

In essence, it is still a living, functioning piece of your intestine…which is why it sometimes acts confused. It was, after all, never intended to handle urine. It is being used in a way that is very far removed from normal. The two of you need to work it out. And you need to cut it some slack.

So maybe not a direct quote, but that was the gist of his answer.

Q. About the occasional day of spasms and leakage and general dampness that gets to be aggravating … like living with an unruly two-year-old who has the capacity to behave and doesn’t … What is with that?

A. Well, it could be any number of things…but it might be akin to irritable bowel syndrome. We could try treating it as such and see if that helps. Or perhaps it is something like having a hyperactive spastic intestine.

Q. What is the thing with heavy duty mucus forming at certain times, and not others.

A. Who knows? But we could try something other than saline to flush with. There is a fluid that is designed to arrest the formation of mucus, and might serve to control it. {note: this prescription was not covered by my insurance and was prohibitively expensive, so we will never know if it might have been effective.}

Q.When I exercise or do something strenuous and feel it ache … am I pulling it and causing it to spasm, or harming it in some way?

A. No. Basically there is really nothing you can do to harm it. It is in there to stay, and is stable and secure and really tough.

Q. And the fact that it still feels as if there is an alien living next door to my belly button?

A. Hah! I’m not sure that ever goes away.

So, the conclusion … this alien internal urinal … the Indiana pouch, so admired by clever surgeons and urologists … the baggie in my belly … the gut that gushes … my urinary diversion … my querulous, fractious, tetchy indoor plumbing, is pretty much normal. There really isn’t much to be concerned about.

So, not to worry, moving forward, I will continue to work out the kinks and come to terms with my plumbing.

Wish me luck … it is really humbling to be at the mercy of this little blob of guts. Silly little bugger!

I am not going to let it get the better of me! SO THERE!

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