Archive for December 6th, 2007

surgical report

Thanks to everyone who was thinking kind thoughts about Jim today.   I have his permission to divulge the following details. 

What was going on was he had a spermatocele.   If you look that up, it is a cyst that is in between the scrotum wall and the testicle, usually caused by the epididymis  suffering some sort of trauma and leaking sperm.   The body forms a cyst around the leakage.   For lots of guys, this is no big deal.   For Jim, the initial discovery of the cyst was over 20 years ago,  when he was told unless it started to bother him not to worry about it.

Well, it slowly grew, and a few years ago, it started to bother him.   The urologist he consulted with got side-tracked by his slightly elevated PSA level, and so a series of prostate biopsies ensued.   Eventually, Jim got a little pissy with the urologist and reminded him of his original presenting symptom, and the Doc got all “Oh, we need to do something about that!”

Preparation for surgery involved a testicular ultrasound, which sounds just as embarrassing as it is.   The young lady doing the ultrasound was very professional, but there was a very bored chaperone in the room anyway.  

When he went for the pre-operative consultation, the urologist happened to have a young intern who was trying to decide what specialties he wanted to do residencies in observing his practice for a week.   Now, if you will, picture a medical professional who is all excited because he has a chance to deal with something more interesting than bladder infections, enlarged prostates, and erectile dysfunction.    Picture him extremely interested in providing an interesting and (apparently) rare educational experience for his student visitor.   The doctor asked Jim if it was okay if the student observed the pre-op exam.  

Jim is not a shy or inhibited guy, so he said “Sure, let him watch.”   During the course of the exam, the doctor got all fascinated by the palpation of the cyst, and how amazing it all was.   I guess if you are a urologist, you get excited on a clinical level by stuff like that.   I mean, I like palpating. . .oh never mind.   We won’t go there.   Anyway, the doctor once again asked if it was okay if the young intern could have this experience.

At this point in Jim’s retelling of this trip to the doctor, I had to ask.   “Okay, when they are palpating your testicles, Dear, what do you do with your penis?”

“Oh,” I was informed.   “You just politely sort of hold it up out of the way.”

So I have this mental picture of my dear sweet husband politely sitting at the edge of an exam table holding his penis up off to the side while two completely focused physicians are down there saying things like, “Okay, feel the right side.   Now feel the left.   Do you feel the difference?   Etc. etc.”   (Feel free to crack up, Jim and I and all my girlfriends certainly have!)

Okay, so we got up at 5 o’clock this morning, had to actually use the alarm clock to do it.  Haven’t employed that device since we had to get up early to go to the airport or something.  Nice to know it still works.   Anyway, we drove up to the Fort and got to the hospital by 7 a.m. as requested.   Jim was admitted, did all his paperwork and surgery began at 8 a.m.   We had been told that two hours had been blocked out for the procedure, so when it began to be two and a half, I started to worry a bit.   

But finally, at 11 o’clock, the phone in the waiting room rang and I was invited to the recovery room, where I found my woozy and emotional husband waiting for me.   Apparently general anaesthesia removes all mental inhibitions and blocks and he had gone way back to the stresses of his father’s health issues and death.   However, the effects of the drug wore off quickly and the stoic and stable man soon reappeared.   While we were in the recovery room his respiration rose to normal and his blood oxygen level started staying up in the 99 and 100% range, which made the recovery room nurse happy.  Me too.   Pneumonia is always a danger after hours of general anaesthesia. 

The surgery was a success.   This is a really good thing since the whole thing was filmed for training purposes because the problem is fairly uncommon.   The cyst had fully involved the epididymis, and there was also a cyst inside that as well, so in addition to removing the two cysts, the doctor removed the epididymis as well.   He believes that this will prevent a reoccurence of the problem, which is fine by us.   However, due to the extensive excision necessary, he had to install a drain, and so Jim has to stay in the hospital overnight.   The drain will be removed in the morning, and then he’ll get to come home.

He has a grand immune system, so I’m sure he won’t be getting any infection.   And he is quite healthy so I am equally sure that he will heal quickly.   The nurse, a very nice Sergeant, opined that things look to be working just fine.   I told him that we wouldn’t really know that until we had had sex, which made him laugh.  

When I left to come home and feed the fire, Jim was enjoying his first cup of coffee of the day, which he had sent me out to procure.   You know that people are feeling better when the fact that they missed their morning coffee is the most serious thing on their minds.   Of course, he was all hopped up on some serious pain medications, too, so that probably had something to do with his positive mental attitude.  

I’m feeling much better now, too!


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While Jim and I were living in San Francisco, we fit into the category of DINK couples (Double Income No Kids).   Well, we sort of fit in.   Considering how much money I made, we had more like One-and-Half Incomes.   And while we did not have human children, we definitely had kids.   Their names were Black-eyed Susan and Cio-Cio-San (Madame Butterfly).


They loved each other.   I have numerous pictures of them sleeping together, playing together.  I really like this one where they are bathing together.   It is much easier and more effective to have the other cat wash behind your ears rather than trying to do it yourself by the traditional licking your paw method.


They had certain favorite things, and Jim was one of them.   There was something about the pheromones that he produced that sent them woozy with delight and ectastic love.   Sometimes if he was lying in the living room with his shirt off, Susan would get up there under his armpit:  sniffing, tasting, and tickling him with her whiskers.  Both of them would roll in his t-shirts like they were catnip.   Once Susan got so carried away that she chewed holes in the shirt, much to Jim’s distress.   It was a great motivator to make sure that dirty clothes got into the hamper rather than being left on the floor.

When Jim went overseas, the cats reacted in a way that I had not anticipated.   I knew that I was going to miss him, but I really had not realized how much our animals were going to miss him.   Both cats started looking for him soon after he left.   Pretty soon, they started mourning him.   There was quite a lot of depression, but eventually they perked up a bit.  I wrote to him and told him how much they seemed to miss him.

By the time my birthday came around in June, he had been gone for six months.   I had gone beyond lonely to rather  crazy.   All my friends were very supportive of me, my co-workers were solicitous and at the same time careful.   I tried not to be moody, but quite often I was touchier than an old World War II mine.   Fortunately everybody understood and didn’t take it personally.   Lots of palliative care was administered to me in the form of wine and marijuana, and my girlfriends made sure I got taken out to dinner on a regular basis.

People could tell how long it had been since I got a letter by my mood.   Weeks when I had received flowers were greeted with palpable relief.  I wasn’t expecting anything particularly great for my birthday, since I was miles away from my family.   I was so wrapped up in keeping my act together and getting all my work done that I was oblivious to any undercurrents going on around me.

The gal who usually took care of the switchboard and office at the Conservatory was away that year on a summer long trip around Europe.   I had been asked if I would take over her duties while she was away, and I was happy to have something to occupy me during the long summer days when school was not in session.   In addition to answering the phone, I was responsible for the care and feeding of the copy machines, and sorting and distributing the mail.  

The amazing bouquet that I mentioned in part one of this series arrived in mid-morning.   Counting the roses in the bouquet had occupied me off and on all day.   Several people had brought me little gifts and nice cards, which also uplifted my mood.   I felt very much cared for and not too bereft.   Around four o’clock, someone came to me and told me that they needed me in the Business Office.   I really didn’t think much about it, the person who notified me of the need for my presence away from the switchboard told me that she would look after it while I was gone.   So I walked down the hall, and asked them what they wanted.

“Oh,” I was told.   “Mezbah has something back at her desk for you.”  The Business Office was two offices that had been knocked into one, and so it was “U” shaped.   I followed the pointing fingers and went around the corner to Mezbah’s desk.   “Anne told me you had something for me?”    She indicated that this was true, and began to fumble around under her desk.   It seemed like it was taking her an awful long time to produce what was there, and when she finally did it turned out to be a big box from Jim.  Oh, I was just shaking with excitement as she handed it over.   I thanked her profusely, so excited that the question of why this box was residing in the Business Office when I was the person who sorted the mail did not occur to me.  

Apparently there had been quite a conspiracy going on around my unobservant self, because when I walked back around the corner, the Business Office was jammed to the gills with every person who worked there plus quite a lot of the students who had stuck around for the summer.   In addition there was a cake with candles all lit and I about fell over, thunderstruck with astonishment as they all shouted “Surprise!” 

The President of the Conservatory had an office directly across the hall from the Business Office, and everyone had mustered there.   As I walked in the door and around the corner, the conspirators had silently followed me in, wheeling the cake in on a trolley.   It was an evolution done with such precision it would have made the military proud.

Well, they insisted that I open the box, which apparently had been waiting for me for the better part of a week.   I forgave them for holding out on me, approving their idea that it would be much more fun for me if I got it on my birthday.   Besides, they all wanted to know what was in it.  It contained two kilos of frankincense, an ostrich egg, a wonderful statue of some African goddess carved out of ebony that Jim had bought in Djibouti, and a ziplock bag containing a couple of t-shirts.  

When I opened that bag, it was immediately obvious that these were rather well-used t-shirts, fully ripened from their trip across the Atlantic.   There were several silly jokes made about people sending their laundry home, but I knew who those shirts were really for. 

When I got home, I called the kittens and they came running to greet me.   “Girls, girls!   I have something special for you.   Jim sent you a present!”   I took the shirts out of the bag and gave one to each cat.   At first, they approached with some suspicion.   Then they sniffed and both of them jumped onto those shirts with complete abandon.  Such rolling, such rubbing, such unalloyed joy,  much more than I am accustomed to seeing displayed by normally aloof felines.  

They seemed to be saying “He’s not dead!”   And after that, they were no longer the depressed little cats they had been for several months.  It was as if the t-shirts had reassured them that somewhere Jim was still alive, and someday he would come home again.

It was a wonderful birthday.

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