I've had to cancel my retreat at Benediktushof. I apologize to everyone who signed up and to the staff at Benediktushof. But right now I'm in no condition to fly. With any luck, I'll be able to make the rest of my European dates.
Here comes the over-sharing part. Please do not read the following if you get grossed out easily. I'm sharing this mainly so that I do not have to keep telling the story over and over and over to the many people who are asking about it. If you're not curious, I suggest you not even read. This isn't pleasant.
Some people were guessing I had a colonoscopy Friday. You were close, but wrong. You missed by about six or seven inches. I don't want to brag, you see.
I had a little camera inserted into my weenie to have a look around up there. It's supposed to be a routine procedure with few complications other than discomfort. I was one of the lucky few for whom the procedure had some unexpected side-effects. No one yet seems to know why, but the procedure led to an inability to urinate.
Thus, screaming like a baby in agony, I had to be driven to the emergency room at about midnight by a long-suffering and very good friend. They placed a catheter in my thingy (hey all you people in San Francisco who don't like me not saying "cock" or "penis" -- Go suck my dick! But not yet. Wait about a week.) It's still there now and I will have to endure this for the next two days.
I can't say the catheter is painful. But it is extraordinarily uncomfortable in a way I wouldn't wish upon my worst enemy. It's just wrong to have a rubber tube up there. Consequently, although the folks at the ER said I could live a more-or-less normal life with this thing in, I have so far not really done so. If I sit very very still, I can let the thing sort of rest and then kind of forget about it. When I move around, it moves around too. It has subtle ways of reminding you that it's still there. Little pinches that I react to as if a crazed bald eagle were champing on the end of my wang -- although in truth the pain really isn't that bad.
I've always said that we should be aware that our independence is largely an illusion. We are not really independent at all. Nothing will remind you of this more clearly than having a medical procedure. I have been reduced to pure dependency. Though when you really look at it, your life is pretty much pure dependency no matter how healthy you are.
Friday was my first experience with anesthesia. It wasn't my first visit to an emergency room. I've taken other people to ERs before and I've been to the ER when I had kidney stones. But last night was my first visit to the Akron, Ohio General Hospital ER. Emergency rooms in Japan are quite different.
As for the anesthesia, that was the easy bit. I went out like a light at the first hint of drugs introduced to mys system. All I really remember was getting light headed then waking up. I initially thought the procedure went really well.
I didn't feel most of the pain they'd warned me I'd feel after the procedure. I was told I'd have a sore throat from the intubation. I barely felt anything. I was told I'd have pain urinating. But the first two times I went it wasn't that bad. It was a little sore. But I've had kidney stones, baby. That kind of sore is nothing!
But the third time I tried to go, nothing came out. I tried and tried for about two hours. You know how it feels when you hold your pee like in a long car ride or something? Imagine that times about 10,000. When at last I finally accepted that I was gonna need to be catheterized I was hurting bad (I'd called the ER & they told me about that possibility, I did not want another thing shoved up my weenie so I resisted).
The long-suffering and saintly Erin drove me to Akron General's emergency room. I was not in a good mood when I arrived. I guess they deal with a lot of distressed people in the ER. So the first person I spoke to had all of her professional defenses up. It was interesting to note. She was prepared for me to go off on her, as I'm sure others have in the past. But I didn't. I tried as best I could to articulate my problem.
Pretty soon I was in a room, waiting to be seen. Luckily the ER was not too crowded. But it still took them forever to get to me. I suppose having to pee really bad is not considered one of the more urgent concerns. Unless you're the one who has to pee real bad.
Finally a doctor came in an accessed my situation and the decision was made to insert a Foley catheter. Much as I dreaded that, I knew it would relieve my pain so I was all for it.
I shook like a maniac as the insertion was done. I'm not really sure if I started shaking before or during the insertion. But by the time they were finished it was like I had the most uncontrollable shivers you can possibly imagine. They said that was a common reaction and that it would subside. It did. But nearly two days later I still ache.
I nearly died on Friday night. Seriously. Without the ER I would have been dead, and it would have been a very bad death. But I'm not dead. So that's good. It's interesting how many things we consider to be fairly minor ailments these days are actually deadly. A wild animal in my predicament would have died. A person living in more primitive conditions would have too -- although such a person wouldn't have had the procedure that led to my ER visit in the first place. Still, a blocked bladder is actually pretty serious stuff.
The fact I could have died makes me very aware that I am extremely dependent upon others. I'm a guy who prides himself on independence, so this is something I often attempt to deny. But there ya go.
I've been reading a book lately called God Is Not One: The Eight Rival Religions That Run the World. The book takes the standpoint that the stuff we've been hearing for years about all religions being basically the same thing is bollocks. They aren't really the same at all. A Christian who tries to be nice by saying that Jews, Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists are also saved is missing the point. Those other religions don't consider it important to be saved.
Anyway, according to the author the goal of Islam is to free us from pride and arrogance and the feeling that we are independent of God. The ordeal I went through the other night has gone a long way to accomplishing that for me. It's hard to be proud when you're walking around carrying your day's accumulated urine in a big plastic bag connected to a garden hose shoved up your dick.
I'll just end there since I've gone on a very long time. I hope your weekend was better than mine!