Getting Ready for a Life-Changing Event

Getting Ready for a Life-Changing Event

The thought of surgery had always terrified me. What scared me the most was the recovery and the pain I would have to endure – it’s called a very low tolerance for it. My wife Mel and I had long and lengthy discussions about the operation while on vacation. We covered the pros and cons, my fear of pain, and the long-term ramifications. In the end, we both decided it was the right course of action. We set up an appointment with Dr. Zlotta when we got back to Toronto.

One of Zlotta’s many residents met with us first. He went through the basics of what to expect and, of course, I asked about the pain I’d experience. “You have nothing to worry about when it comes to post-op pain, we will make sure you’re comfortable and as pain-free as possible.”

I didn’t feel reassured

He asked if I was going to have a neobladder or a bag, and I said I’d prefer a new bladder. The resident went on to explain how a bag would be easier, empty every four hours and away you go. He mentioned the surgery and recovery time was quicker than a neobladder. By the time he finished, he had me convinced. Dr. Zlotta then entered the room and joined the conversation. He was very direct.

The decision was overdue

“This is not a democracy, you are getting a new bladder. The only way you wouldn’t get one was if you were wheelchair bound, a chronic smoker and near death. You’re healthy, young and you’re getting a new bladder. End of story.” The resident quietly left the room and we continued our conversation. Zlotta said I was making the right decision and it probably should have happened a year ago. “But I understand you weren’t ready at that point. I’m glad it hasn’t penetrated the wall and the operation will be a lot better for you in the long run.”

He added, “I’d like to get this done sooner rather than later, so you can start your recovery. You’re probably looking at 6-9 months, and you won’t be going back to work very soon.”

Getting rid of stress

“The most important thing for you to do now is get rid of as much stress in your life as possible, both pre and post op. You’re a strong man and you’ll heal faster the less you have to worry about. We’ll set up the appointments you’ll need before your surgery, and we’re looking at March to get it done.”

The next day, I told my boss that I would be leaving the school at the end of February, taking two weeks to get away before the procedure scheduled for March 15 and that I wouldn’t be back to finish the semester. I also told him I wouldn’t be returning to teach in the fall; I was retiring. He did not take the news well and asked me to think about the September return before making a final decision. To make him happy I said I would, but I knew I was finished. It was time to get ready for a life-changing event.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The BladderCancer.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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