Hurry Up and Wait

I didn’t have a lot of time to think about the surgery because March 17 was approaching fast. I tried to stay as active as possible leading up to the day, walking, cycling, watching what I was eating. Dr. Zlotta maintained that if I was 10-15 pounds lighter, it would mean faster healing. I followed his directive as closely as possible and managed to lose the weight, but I did miss my junk food; I’d rather eat crap than anything.

The day arrived

The day arrived, and my wife Melanie and I got to the hospital at 5:30 am. I was admitted to the surgical ward, where I was given a last-minute check-up and got shaved. Not my face, but my torso, everything from the neck down to my groin. I felt naked in more ways than one. Then the wait started. Nurses dropped by to make sure everything was alright. The anesthetist also came around to go over the procedure once again, reassuring me that I was in good hands.

The resident told me they "hoped" to give me a neobladder

The first feeling of doubt crept into my mind when the surgical resident came by to chat. He told me everything was set for the surgery, and they “hoped” to give me a neobladder. “What do you mean 'hope'?” I asked. “Well, the taller you are, and you’re six foot two, the bigger the chance you won’t be able to have a neobladder. The ureters that run from your kidneys to the bladder can only stretch so far. If they don’t stretch far enough, you get a bag.” He assured me that it was highly unlikely, but there was a possibility. Not very reassuring. Later when Dr. Zlotta came by, he told me not to worry, and that I would get a neobladder. I had another question I wanted to ask.

Preparing for the big operation

“What are the chances of me dying from this surgery?” Placing his hand on my shoulder, he smiled when he answered, “I have never lost a patient on the table.” I had some quiet time before we were set to go into the operating room, so I meditated. Over the years, mindfulness has helped alleviate a lot of anxiety; it sure worked on the 17th. We were scheduled to go into the room at 8am. It was estimated I’d be under for 7-8 hours. This was a big operation. At 7:45, Dr. Zlotta came out in full scrubs with some bad news. “We have to postpone the surgery; the room is needed for an emergency transplant. I’m out of town for the next two weeks, so we’ll try it again on March 30th. I’m sorry.”

Two more weeks to think about the surgery

My family was angry at the delay. It didn’t bother me nearly as much. I mean, do I have precedence over a transplant? I don’t think so. So, we got dressed and headed home with two more weeks to think about what was about to happen. It was a long two weeks.

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