Day 14 Monday 26th of September

Bit of a red letter day really. The day the catheter comes out, and you find out if you are incontinent, and if so, how badly. I also had the added anxiety of never experienced the removal of a catheter. This tube goes from the outside world, through your penis, up the urethra into the bladder. A small balloon inflated with sterile water holds it in position. I had no idea whether it would hurt, but I knew it was a procedure without aesthetic.

Anyway, Sal duly drove over the old Severn Bridge again back to Southmead hospital. We found it no problem and arrived half an hour early for the appointment, which was at 10.30am. 11.00 am arrived and still no sign of anybody. Now, I am not the best at waiting anyway, but with the worry of the unknown I was becoming a little flustered! Anyway, turns out that the specialist practitioner had been there since 10.30, but somehow my arrival at the clinic had not been registered. Tiny hiccup, on the scale of things.

Christine was excellent. She calmed me down instantly, explaining exactly what she had to do. Up on the couch again, deep breath in, and then there was this funny tingling sensation, as though someone was extracting the chimney brush out of the chimney, except it was my urethra that was being cleaned out. Fortunately it was not followed by a pile of soot! It didn’t hurt at all. Now for the moment of truth- that followed an instant of mild hilarity. Christine gave me a pad to adorn my nether regions, in case I leaked. Now I have never encountered an incontinence pad before, and it had a sticky strip all across the back of one side. Christine had discretely left me to get on with it, but could I get this pad to stick to my skin? Eventually she asked if I was OK and I explained the stickiness didn’t seem to be working. She popped in to assist. She was extremely professional, but I knew she was nearly exploding with mirth inside! She kindly explained that the sticky strip is attached to the underwear, not the body! What a plonker!!

Instructions now were to go and have a drink and not leave until I either passed urine naturally or started leaking. It is really difficult to describe the strange emotions of the next half hour. Sal and I went up to the canteen, Sal had tea, and I indulged in 500ml of diet coke, already having consumed a cup of water. We waited and tried to chat, but it was superficial stuff as my mind was firmly fixed inside my underpants. Time seemed to drag by like a knackered old steam engine, with insufficient coal. Twenty minutes gone, still no desire to wee, but I didn’t feel wet either. Walked back to the Urology clinic and swallowed another cup of water, so had now consumed at least a litre as I had finished off Sal’s tea too. Christine came to check on me, but explained no joy yet. I deliberately hadn’t drunk much before the removal of the catheter in case……. Then it came! A desire to pee, similar to how the German dams felt after being hit by the Wallace bouncing bomb! Fortunately the loo was only 10 yards away and was free. But I peed like a racehorse, and the pad was dry! I fear I may have shouted “Yes” as there were several odd looks as I sheepishly emerged from the W.C. to the enthralled audience of restrained waiting fellow patients. I wanted to bellow to the world that I could control my bladder…..but just managed to constrain myself. Sal could tell because I had the original Cheshire cat grin affixed to my chops like an all consuming crescent moon.

I told Christine my good news, and was allowed to leave…..but now the effect of the prodigious amounts of liquid I had consumed began to take their toll. As we got to the main entrance, the dam creaked again, so I found the nearest loo. Gaining confidence now I used a urinal for the first time in a fortnight- strange how simple things start to feel like a major achievement. Red Rum would have been proud of my output, and still a dry pad! Must be OK for the trip back to Wales now? Oh no. We got as far as the Gloucester Road in the traffic (about ten minutes) and my bladder was shouting again. Many thanks to the Air Balloon pub on the Gloucester Road-you saved my modesty! And finally, the Severn View service area by the old SevernBridge. So, four monster pees in forty minutes. I haven’t felt like that since the infamous 3 legged race Pub Crawl for Rag Week in Aberystwyth- but we best not go there!

However the upshot of all this is that I am totally continent from the advent of the removal of the catheter- even went all night without a mishap- well done Mr Ed Rowe, Leonardo and team! And the good news doesn’t finish there, although I shall have to be a little subtle about this one. Suffice to say that I woke up this morning with a swelling in my crutch that Rasputin would have been proud of! Just as well that didn’t happen when the catheter was coming out………

They say good things come in threes, so this is my third. Ed Rowe took the trouble to ‘phone me on Friday, letting me know the results of the histology on my now removed prostate. The malignancy was confined inside the gland, so as long as the PSA levels are negligible before my return on the 28th, of October, the prognosis is excellent.

So avid followers, this tale is beginning to draw to a close. Like all good tales it is heading towards a very happy ending, but I’ll keep you updated as events of significance arise.

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