Bladders and Beauty Queens

I’m not shy about the fact that my best physical feature is my eyebrows, but apart from that, I’m also not super into fashion or beauty products or really doing much with my hair. The common vein I have with the vain, however, is my regular injections of botox. I’m also not shy about the bladder business that I deal with related to nerve damage, so if you’re not interested in bathroom stuff, see you next week with no judgment.

They treat me well at the REHAB Basel, and the nurses and doctors all know my German is weak. We use as much as I can before they assist with English words to clarify their questions as they set me up for the procedure. This week I had the videodynamik and botox injections which meant that before they put me under, they had to fill my bladder to the max with a saline solution before tapping on my tummy to measure spasms. It’s unpleasant. Uncomfortable.

I don’t mind it too much because it’s not a super long procedure. The nurses also often chat with me and make light conversation between warnings about cold, wet items touching my skin or asking me to cough to trigger a spasm in my slowly filling bladder. They take pictures every hundred millilitres, and I get to look at x-rays of my pelvis with the dark balloon in the middle growing larger each time. They ask me to let them know when I feel anything, when I would look for a bathroom, and when I would desperately need to pee (at which point a nurse apologetically but firmly taps on my bladder with her fingers). My body is confused in this artificial setting with my legs strapped in stirrups in the air, so I always feel like the spasms trigger sooner than they normally would. Again, it’s unpleasant. Uncomfortable.

Way back when I was in the hospital right after my accident, I learned that comfort is overrated. In some sense, I haven’t been comfortable since, and in others, I’ve learned and adapted, and I can say that I look forward to my botox appointment because the nurses are kind and they make my life better after a couple uncomfortable pokes. This year I remembered to keep my stomach empty, but I think they still went light on the anaesthesia. I never made it fully under, but I could hear the nurse monitoring my heart rate and blood pressure by my head make soothing comments every time I groaned in discomfort. Each “ow” I emitted was immediately followed by her telling me, “It’s almost over,” in English. And it was.

The doctor who spoke with me after the procedure was kind, and reaffirmed for me what another doctor had already told me – I have textbook perfect kidneys on an ultrasound. I may not win any beauty contests for my face, but with my smooth bladder and gorgeous kidneys, I really don’t care.

This year I didn’t have to transfer beds to sleep off the anaesthesia, and I dozed for another half hour or so listening to the beeps of the machines around me while they took my blood pressure every three minutes. Once I felt alert enough, the nurses helped me put my shoes back on and transfer to my wheelchair so I could head back to school to teach my lessons. My students shared their church products and we talked about warning signs of church gatherings that turn into cults. Cults are bad, guys.

There were no negative side effects this year, and I am grateful for quality medical care here. I am still praying for the miraculous intervention to not need future injections, but I’m grateful for good nurses and doctors to care for me whenever I do need this kind of care.

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