from the Korean Army to being published

the blog of an "ex-patriot" writer in Korea

Random #64: Update from the Hospital – Second Surgery

with 2 comments

Yesterday, I was taken down to the OR just before lunch for my second surgery. The doctor told me it was to remove the steel bar holding my leg together, stick pins in my broken ankle, and put my tibia back together if there was time. Once I was in the OR, they strapped me in and put the oxygen mask over my mouth. “Breathe deeply.” “Now the gas will come.” The last thing I remember was that the knockout gas smelled funky.

When I woke from the general anesthesia, I was in instant and excruciating pain. I couldn’t stop moaning. “We put in some pain-killers so you should start feeling better soon.” I didn’t feel any better. My body was contorted in pain. “Is it going to hurt this much the whole time?” I half-asked, half-grunted. I was ignored. I looked around and nobody was paying attention to me. I wondered why the other post-op patients in the room were so quiet. I was still in considerable pain when they wheeled me out of the OR.

My mother was waiting for me. I haven’t cried because of physical pain since I was in elementary school, maybe the second grade. (The last time I cried because of emotional pain was in boot camp.) I’ve always thought I had a high tolerance for pain. My largest tattoo was done in one sitting, and the only break we took was because the tattooist’s hand was cramping. I got into a motorcycle accident on the way to a blind date many years ago. A scooter jumped out into traffic right in front of me and I went flying through the air, landing on my helmet and shoulder. I got the lady’s information, picked up my bike, and continued on to the blind date. But lying there on the gurney, I was in so much pain, I could feel a few tears stream down from the corners of my eyes.

They first took me to take x-rays—where they weren’t too gentle with my freshly operated on leg—and took me to my room to recuperate. Somehow the pain had dissipated and I wasn’t feeling too bad. Perhaps it was the painkillers kicking in. But when Fred stopped by to check up on me, I started feeling really uncomfortable, the kind of discomfort where you can’t stay still but no matter what you do, you can’t get comfortable. I was wriggling and thrashing around, a big ball of pure frustration. “Breathe deeply,” my mother advised. I did as she said and I could smell the gas on my breath. After about 20 minutes, I could finally sit still. I promptly fell asleep.

I woke three hours later due to pain in my foot. I don’t know what the cause is, but I think that they’re wrapping my flat foot too tightly. The nurse came and cut the wrapping slightly, easing the tension, and I felt a little better, but then she also placed a burden on me—“You have to pee before you go to bed.”

I received the same threat on my second day in the hospital. A doctor took out my catheter in the morning (Ouch!) and a nurse asked if I had peed at lunch. I told her I hadn’t. “I’ll be back in an hour and a half. If you haven’t gone by then, we’ll have to put the catheter back in.”

After the pain of having the catheter taken out (Why is it so damn long?), there was no way I was going to have a catheter put in while I was conscious. I drank everything I could get my hands on, all the different juices and drinks that visitors brought as well as a bunch of water. After 30 minutes, I felt that familiar, reassuring urge and filled up my piss pot with a sigh of relief.

I had drunk a lot of water after the surgery but still felt no urge. I drank another bottle of water, and another, an another, and nothing. Not even the slightest urge. My bladder was full but my pecker didn’t want to give it up. It’s a common occurrence after general anesthesia, urinary retention. The signal the brain sends to the dick gets screwed up along the way, and this can cause a backup of urine which may lead to serious problems not only to the bladder but also the kidneys.

I’m trying everything. Hot water, cold water, ice packs to simulate a cold day, hot towel on my stomach, different positions, flexing different muscles, and nothing is working. I try to relax but the anxiety of having to get a catheter put in or renal failure is driving me crazy. It’s 1:30 am. I’ve been at this for three hours.

I’ve almost resigned myself to the catheter. As a last ditch effort, I go onto YouTube and find an 8-hour waterfall clip. I grab the disinfectant that’s always by the bed and wipe my hands and decide to give my dong a wipe down as well. I think maybe a little bit got into the hole and that was enough to trigger the urge. I practically filled the piss pot to capacity and it was made to hold a lot of urine.

I was able to sleep again after that, waking up several times to piss. By the time I was completely awake this morning, I probably had peed over three liters.

Just before breakfast, the doctor stopped by and gave me a copy of my ankle x-ray. They had only operated on my ankle and taken out the steel rod. My tibia is still broken, now a month. If things go well, they’ll take care of the tibia in about a week.

Before and after x-rays of my ankle

My uncle stopped by just before lunch to pick up some of my documents, ask about the surgery, and give us a progress update. “Why did you choose general anesthesia?” he asked. “Isn’t that what I had the first time?” “No. They say that general anesthesia has a lot of negative side-effects so I chose spinal anesthesia.” “But I was knocked out….” “Yeah, I also requested that you be put to sleep first.” 

My uncle is smart. That’s why I had a much easier time recovering from my first surgery, why I didn’t have that much trouble pissing afterward and didn’t have to choke out the gas. I’ll keep this in mind for my tibia surgery, hopefully in the next week or so.


2 Responses

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  1. As much as I was fascinated and horrified by your blog post, I’m having a hell of a time reading the tags to the post.

    “By the time I was completely awake this morning, I probably had peed over three liters.”

    So the pseudonym “Holden” comes from “I’m Holden in a gallon,” I gather…

    Just keep chanting (especially when the urine isn’t forthcoming), “This too shall pass… this too shall pass…”


    January 17, 2014 at 7:22 pm

    • “This too shall pass.” It should be my mantra. When I think about what I still have left to go through, it really is all I believe in order to stay sane. Hopefully, I won’t have to worry about urinary retention if I opt for spinal anesthesia for the tibia surgery.


      January 17, 2014 at 7:51 pm

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