Thus begins the long process of figuring out what happened to my bladder during surgery.
First, I need to have another CT scan. But this scan is different from my other ones. They fill my bladder through my catheter until it is completely full. As I slide in and out of the CT machine, I pray that maybe this procedure will give us some answers. The urologist wants to know if the fluid leaks out of my bladder and into my abdominal cavity.
The test results confirm that my bladder is intact and no fluid appears to be leaking out of it and into my belly. But because they cannot rule out a previous bladder injury, one that already healed on its own, I need to have a surgery-like procedure in which they will take internal x-rays of my bladder and ureters. My imagination is failing me as to how they are going to do this but I’m too scared of what they might say to ask. All I know is I will be put to sleep for it. Anesthesia sounds like paradise.
Before the procedure I lay waiting in a room so small that it holds just my bed and space for a person to stand on either side of me. A nurse brings me a heavenly electric blanket and I snuggle in with all my various tubes: my IV, my catheter, my wound vacuum. In the quiet and warmth, I fall asleep.
The next thing I know I am coughing uncontrollably and gasping for air as they wheel me down the hall to a large, communal recovery room filled with people waking up from anesthesia. The urologist informs me that everything with my bladder and ureters look fine—and confirms that no injury occurred during my cesarean. I am relieved to hear that, but also frustrated that they had to do so much to me to figure that out.
My anesthesiologist comes over and casually says that I aspirated (meaning I inhaled fluid and stomach bile into my lungs) when I was coming out of anesthesia and that I am at risk for contracting pneumonia now. I stare at him, speechless between my violent coughing fits. I am in a nightmare that never ends. I want to ask him to go ahead and put his magical sleep potion in my IV again, pneumonia-risk and all. But instead I just keep coughing.
As I am coughing, I realize it: there is no shortcut to get through what is happening. I have to live in what is happening right now. We all do, every day.