“I become faint and nauseous during even very minor medical procedures, such as making an appointment by phone.” Dave Barry
I’m not a brave man, although I’ve had moments of bravery. I managed wisdom teeth extraction pretty well, and a bad bout of wart removal. Where I didn’t comport myself so well was with a cystoscopy.
If you aren’t familiar with this procedure, it’s where a camera the size of, well, a camera, is shoved up the urethra. In my case, it was done to determine if I’ll need Depends at some point. We’re all going to need Depends at some point. It’s called old age. I didn’t need someone turning my urethra into the Panama Canal to tell me that.
Okay, I know I sound angry, but I honestly feel a lot of things were glossed over or understated before I agreed to this procedure. When someone says, “You’ll feel mild discomfort,” I didn’t expect to be screaming like a hyena afterwards. Neither did my neighbours. They thought they heard a hyena. If you thought you heard a hyena, it was probably me — even if you live in Dayton. I’m a really loud coward.
Either they’ve never had a cystoscopy, or some people have urethras capable of handling large objects including ships.
So I blame the literature, and the urologist who gave me the literature, and the person who wrote “You’ll experience some mild burning that will gradually decrease.” Either they’ve never had a cystoscopy, or some people have urethras capable of handling large objects including ships. Mine doesn’t, obviously, which would explain why I screamed like a hyena.
Now, I admit, there were hints in the brochure, especially where they talked about methods of sedation. You’re either numbed, meaning kept aware of what’s going on, or you’re anesthetized, and you don’t have a clue.
I would have preferred not having a clue, but supposedly that’s only for procedures where “a larger scope may be used if surgical tools need to go up the urethra.” They do this when you have polyps or require a tissue sample, which, they didn’t in my case. I wasn’t even given numbing gel.
All I got was iodine tossed on my genitals. Either the nurse wasn’t following protocol, or she thought it would be a hoot. You never know with urologists or their assistants. I suspect they think everything is a hoot.
I needed two Polynesian nurses holding me down because, if you don’t have a urethra the size of Lincoln Tunnel, you feel like a bamboo pole is shoved up there.
Imagine this scenario: I’m sitting on the operating table, feet in stirrups, a Polynesian nurse on either side of me. I didn’t realize their purpose until the urologist took a coil of wire out of a plastic bag. I’ll spare you the rest, except to say my urethra isn’t the size of Lincoln Tunnel, which it needed to be to accommodate that camera, and I needed two Polynesian nurses holding me down because, if you don’t have a urethra the size of Lincoln Tunnel, you feel like a bamboo pole is shoved up there.
What’s worse, you have a bladder full of water (consumed in advance), and it wants out so badly, and nobody’s listening to you because, after the urologist scans the bladder, there’s what’s known as an “Arc Test.” This is to determine how strong you urinate. It’s also the first time you realize urinated isn’t going to be “mildly uncomfortable.”
The Arc Test itself takes place in another room, featuring a big machine with a metal trough. You urinate into the metal trough, and they give you a reading. So there I am, urinating into a metal trough, when one of the Polynesian nurses says, “Aw, the machine didn’t register. You’ll have to do it again.” So I’m back drinking water, standing around, waiting for the nurses, only they’re busy, and by the time they come back, I’ve got more fluid in me than a well-watered camel.
I did the Arc Test again, they told me to get dressed, and I was out of there. Figuring I’d walk home, I soon realized what I “arced” wasn’t nearly what I’d consumed. Four blocks from the hospital, my bladder was in distress, with nine blocks to my apartment and no restaurant open (it was eight in the morning).
Quickening my pace, I made it to a park, forgetting that at eight in the morning, every Pomeranian and Dachshund is there, guarding the bushes. Any chance to unzip was met with these nasty bastards barking like idiots.
I made it to the washroom, unzipped, did my arc, and suddenly realized the literature had lied.
I set off again, dogs in pursuit, owners calling them, me looking like a guppy. Ten minutes later, I’m through my front door, taking the stairs three at a time. I made it to the washroom, unzipped, did my arc, and suddenly realized the literature had told the biggest porky in history. What they described as “mild discomfort” was more like broken glass exiting my poor urethra.
I screamed and someone in the next apartment fell out of bed. I usually respect late sleepers, but there’s only so much reserve you can show with broken glass coming out your urethra. Think of female cats when they have sex. It’s the same thing, only a cat knows what to expect. I didn’t. I believed the literature, especially the part that says, “You’ll probably resume your daily routine right away.”
How anyone could resume their daily routine after screaming like a hyena and looking like a guppy is beyond me. I could have been arrested the way I carried on. People are arrested for less these days. Some don’t even look like guppies. They look like perfectly normal people who just happen to be carrying a machete.
They even lied about the cystoscope having a lens like a telescope. If that were the case, they could have looked at my urethra from, say, the moon.
In any event, all this could have been avoided if I’d questioned the literature. They lied about everything. They even lied about the endoscope having a lens like a telescope. If that were the case, they could have looked at my urethra from, say, the moon.
With each urination, totaling ten that day, I screamed, more people fell out of bed, or off balconies, and many hands banged the walls. No doubt complaints were made to the proper authorities. I fully expected a police car to show up any minute, a man in uniform knocking at my door, accusing me of acting like a wimp and looking like a guppy.
I’ve since reported the literature, calling cystoscopies the “worst modern torture known to man.” I may be “the wimpiest of wimps,” but I’ve also written plenty of medical brochures, giving what I consider to be an accurate account of procedures. This includes my version of a cystoscopy which says, “This operation is the product of severely sadistic minds.”
My doctor has since suggested I have a cystoscopy every five years. I’ve told him I’m a loud coward, and my building simply won’t tolerate my kind of screaming. The police report supports this. I’ve also shown the report to my doctor who thought it was hysterically funny. He obviously hasn’t had a cystoscopy, or he wouldn’t laugh. Nobody who’s had one laughs.
The size of the urethra and the size of the camera will prove that one can’t accommodate the other.
I would strongly suggest to anyone getting a cystoscopy to ignore the literature. Look at a the diagrams provided online or in any medical textbook. The size of the urethra and the size of the camera will prove that one can’t accommodate the other. That is unless you’ve got a urethra the size of Lincoln Tunnel. Most of us don’t. If you still decide to go ahead with the procedure, be prepared for more than some “mild discomfort.”
As I’ve said, these brochures lie. They should be taken out of circulation and replaced with a more accurate account, including “could result in frenzied screaming and police knocking at your door.”
I would, however, like to thank the Polynesian nurses who acted professionally, despite me leaving fingernails in their arms.
The police view it differently. But they probably haven’t had cystoscopies. Either that or they have urethras the size of Lincoln Tunnel.
Like I pointed out earlier, I’ve had moments of bravery, but this wasn’t one of them. I proudly stand by my screaming and my wimpiness.
The police view it differently, but they probably haven’t had cystoscopies. Either that or they have urethras the size of Lincoln Tunnel.
Anyway, I still have savage nightmares, the kind tortured and oppressed individuals understand. Maybe the nightmares will fade. I hope so. I need a good night’s sleep and so do my neighbours.
I should add petitions have been signed and the word has spread. Never let this man have another cystoscopy. He’ll be wearing Depends eventually. We all will. It’s called old age and no cystoscopy is going to change that.
So torture me any way you like, just don’t give me a cystoscopy.
I’ll fight back, I swear I will.
Robert Cormack is a novelist, journalist and blogger. His first novel “You Can Lead a Horse to Water (But You Can’t Make It Scuba Dive)” is available online and at most major bookstores (in paperback August 6th). Skyhorse Press or Simon and Schuster for more details.