“Dad, no. No, Dad. No. Uh uh. There’s no way that’s true, Dad. No.” ~Noah (age 9)
Noah gets it. Why doesn’t the surgeon or his office assistant get it? To them, it’s just gonna be like any other day. But Noah and I both understand that a special kind of hell is coming my way, and there isn’t a fucking thing I can do to avoid it.
Yep. A week from today, I go into the surgeon’s office to get the ureteral stent removed. It is currently running between my kidney and my bladder so that all the bits and fragments of kidney stone that got blasted to bits inside me can make their way out without causing too much damage or pain.
Putting the stent in was the easy part for me. I just inhaled deeply on some beautiful drugs and went to sleep. I woke up and my penis burned like it had spent the weekend in Tijuana, but the stent had been placed and the procedure was done.
Of course, I’m thankful for the stent, but I also hate the stent. So much.
First of all, just to say I have a stent in me is proof to all the world that I am no longer a young person. Like, at all. Don’t argue with me on that. While there are a few exceptions, it is fairly sound science.
Second of all, the surgeon failed to mention that some people with ureteral stents experience extreme amounts of pain any time they have to pee. Lucky me, I’m one of those people. For any urination (the smallest tinkles are the absolute worst), it feels like an anchor gets lodged into the tender flesh of my kidney, and some eager seaman is on the other end of the rope, pulling hard to make sure it’s gonna stay. It feels like I’m trying to puke my kidney out of my dilly. It feels like I sat on a tall steel spike, and a sea of five-year-olds are all wanting piggy back rides right when it happens.
Okay, that last analogy was weird. Deal with it.
The surgeon gave me a whole bag of prescription narcotics that are supposed to help me if I’m one of the “lucky ones,” but I stopped taking them all because I couldn’t go one more minute with that shit flowing through my veins and clouding my mind.
So here I am. I’ve got a stent in me. And that stent has to come out.
I was telling Noah how it was going to go down, mostly because I knew it would appeal to the innate morbid curiosity that kids his age have for how real life works. Or maybe I told him because I’m his dad, and laughing about dilly-related things is, always has been, and always will be an overly awesome form of father-son bonding.
As I told him what would happen, Noah’s eyes bulged. He listened intently and began shaking his head. “Dad, no. No, Dad. No. Uh uh. There’s no way that’s true, Dad. No,” he said when I finished.
“Oh, it’s true pal.”
“No. No. No, Dad. No.” He was smiling big, but he was being so sincere.
Now, I’m sure you’re all wondering what does happen when a ureteral stent is removed.
Okay, I admit I’m not completely sure either, but after talking to the surgeon’s assistant on the phone, this is what I have to look forward to…
Step one: they do not knock me out. It’s an “in-clinic” procedure, I was told. What the fuck does that mean? How can something that requires putting me under to insert it, not then require putting me under to extract it?
Step two: they administer local anesthetic. What the fuck does that mean? Am I getting a shot in my dilly? What’s gonna be so painful that I need to be numb? Also… Why exactly am I not gonna be under for this?
Step three: they “send a camera in and pull the stent out.”
I just got physically ill writing that. It’s all the information the gal on the phone would give me between my anxious panting demands to know more. “The surgeon does not prescribe anti-anxiety pills or anything,” she said when I told her I didn’t like the sound of it at all.
“They send a camera in and pull the stent out.”
“What do you mean they send a camera in?” I demanded. “Like, through my penis?”
“Yes.” I’m sure she was trying not to laugh on the other end of the line.
“And I’m gonna be awake for this?”
“And they just, like, grab hold of the stent and yank it out?”
“Through my penis hole.”
She paused. I am certain she was trying not to laugh at this point. I was straight up panicking. “Yes,” she finally said.
That’s when I told her I didn’t like it and I wanted something to knock me out.
“The whole procedure only takes about 15 minutes,” she said as if it would comfort me.
15 minutes is not a comforting thought.
4 seconds would be a comforting thought. Even 30 seconds would be comforting.
15 minutes? With some Alien/Predator electronic gadgetry shoved up my wang? Are you kidding me?
I mean, all pain aside, can we talk about the awkwardness of it for a hot second? I know how it’s gonna go down.
A nurse with rubber gloves will probably be assisting the doctor by holding my dilly steady throughout the procedure.
For 15 minutes.
The surgeon will be sitting on his spinny chair like some geeky little nerd in his gaming cave, watching a monitor, and saying weird things throughout the procedure to try and calm me the hell down.
For 15 minutes.
Machines will be beeping. Motors will be spinning. Blades will be swinging. Demon choirs will be chorusing.
For 15 minutes.
And I’ll just be sitting there on the exam table, hopefully with my feet in stirrups because it would just add to the awkwardness, my dilly in some chick’s hand (shriveled, I’m sure, to the size of an almond as it tries to escape), leaning back against my elbows, trying to act nonchalant about it all.
For 15 minutes.
Fifteen minutes is not a long time when you’re at a chocolate tasting party.
Fifteen minutes is not a long time when you’re watching the best movie you’ve seen in years.
Fifteen minutes is not a long time to wait when you walk into a popular restaurant on a Saturday night.
Fifteen minutes for a “quick in-clinic procedure” with doodads jammed in my willy that are on a mission to grab hold of a foot-long plastic tube and violently yank it out of my body? That’s a long time. That’s a really long time.
“How you doin’?” I’m sure awkward me will try and insert humor at some point during those 15 minutes, by joking with the nurse who’s got her (or his) grip on my ever-shriveling member.
“Whoa, buy me dinner first.” Yeah. I know awkward me will say some awkward shit like that to the surgeon.
One week. That’s how long I have before this special “quick 15-minute” hell takes place in my life.
God, that honestly feels like it’s ten minutes away. Weird, since the 15 minutes feels like it’ll take the entirety of that day. I guess that’s just relativity for ya.
Regardless, I think I’m gonna need a stent double on this one. Anyone wanna volunteer? I’ll happily cover the copay.
Dan Pearce, Single Dad Laughing