First Cystoscopy

The Cytoscope – My First Experience

Dr. Hopkins was accurate in his prediction that I would not ask him to do another inspection. When the time came, I was trying to mentally relax, thinking that it was my job to assist the procedure by not resisting.

I was wearing only a gown and socks. I reclined on the table on my back. As mentioned before, this was a short table, ending just below the knees, so my feet were sticking out into space. I was thankful that they did not have stirrups, as the similarity to a gynecological exam would have added to the insult. They draped my midsection with a big cloth and moved my legs so my knees were slightly elevated, making it impossible for me to see anything in the “work area.” Fine by me.

The assistant stood on the left side with the cystoscope (still covered) and placed a medical pad (flat diaper) below my buttocks. The doctor was on my right side, and he started prepping the area – which is in fact my penis. While few men appreciate other men messing with our junk, it was cool enough in the room and I was too freaked-out to care. I had expected a TV monitor for the instrument so that I could see what they saw, but the doc was going old school and using the eyepiece – no monitors involved. In any case I could not see the scope, the doctor’s hands, or the assistant’s, so I focused on a ceiling tile. I could not tell how many people were messing with my junk, or who. I really did not care. Suddenly the doctor looked right at me over the draping and asked, “Are you married?” I replied in the affirmative and raised my left hand to proudly show my wedding ring. He replied, “This won’t hurt your wife a bit.”

My mind was racing, and during the next half second I pondered what he meant – that sex stuff would still work? But then he jammed the cystoscope in. The feeling is indescribable. One thing that I did NOT expect was that the tip of the thing burned, and I could feel every millimeter of it’s journey. I went into some kind of shock and my eyes rolled back in my head, and everything was covered in a curtain of red. Forget relaxation. I’m pretty sure I said, “UUUUUUUUUUUUUCCCCCKKKKK!!!!!!!!” or some similar word. I could feel it meet some resistance, and the assistant said, “That’s the prostate, almost there!” Total elapsed time, maybe 5 seconds from the Doctor’s odd question. Through the red cloud of haze I heard the assistant yell at me to breathe, so I started doing Lamaze type breathing like we have all seen on TV, and she said, “No, just breathe normally.” I glanced at her direction, and I think she jumped back a bit and offered, “I guess that’s easy for me to say.” I managed to grunt “Yes, ma’am,” through clenched teeth. At least it gave me something to concentrate on, just trying to breathe. All I was aware of was the burning sensation, which was not horrible, but such a surprise. I later found that burning is a GOOD sign. If there is no burning they are going in and out too fast, and that can result in bruising internally or worse. So if you are having a scope, rejoice in the burn.

The doc was mercifully quick. Less than 60 seconds. It might have been less than 30. And though it did not hurt my wife, it was no joy for me, and she likes me a lot!

The doctor’s humor was wasted on me at the time, but in retrospect now it seems funnier. I have related the story above to several small groups (of men), and we have all laughed ourselves to tears.

The aftermath was a bit messy. The doctor said, “You have two papillary tumors in your bladder. They are a form of cancer, and they are usually pretty easy to take care of. Go ahead and get dressed and come see me in my office, so we can go over the details when you are more comfortable.” Then he and the assistant left the room.

I was pretty much in a state of shock from the procedure. Mostly it was a result of not at all being what I expected. Which was that I would relax, feel a slight pressure, and that we would all three inspect the inside of my bladder on a flat-screen TV in full color. I would ask questions, the doctor would answer, and we would all have a good laugh that this was all much ado about nothing. I had no pain or symptoms, so how bad could it be? Hmm. Wait a minute, did he just say that I had CANCER?” I put it out of my mind.

Post-procedure, physically, there were a few things to deal with. First, to get the best view, the doctor fills your empty bladder with saline solution. So you REALLY need to pee afterwards. Second there is still some lubricating goo and dribbles of saline solution. They leave you all the surgical towels and whatnot, so it’s easy enough to clean up, and though it feels like things should hurt, nothing really does. I got dressed and proceeded to the bathroom to evacuate my bladder, which was full, but not bursting. At this point I discovered what DOES hurt. Initiating the stream was pretty painful, and there was some burning, so I only got about half empty. My friend Dr. Chuck described the sensation quite accurately as “pissing razor blades.” This trend continued for the next 2 days or so, but each time it got easier and hurt less. They advise you to drink plenty of fluids, and I agree. If you avoid fluid to avoid peeing to avoid the initiation pain, it will take LONGER TO GET BETTER! May as well get it over with, and things will stop hurting the more they are used properly!

I’d say a gallon a day – not all at once – is the minimum you will want to do after one of these scopings. I use 32 ounce plastic mugs, usually with iced tea or sugar free lemonade. I avoid soda, even diet. I’m sure pure water is better, but it makes me gag. If I can get through 5 of the 32 ouncers (which are never brim full, so maybe 26 ounces each) between breakfast and bedtime, that’s easily a gallon.

I felt good enough to move on into the doc’s office to hear what he had to say. Then I stopped short, as if hit with a baseball bat.

Did he say CANCER?”