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Mahina's Journey - Looking Back to January 09

Out here – it’s just you and the ball”                                                                                       Mike Weir

 January 09 – On Monday, January 4 I had received 7 radiation treatments. We meet with Dr. Hung after my treatment (as we would each week.) This was our first meeting since I had started

radiation. I was feeling great, not lost any weight and exercising daily. I had dyed my hair blonde for the radiation and we even joked that a friend at church had commented that he did not know Blonde boyradiation turned your hair blonde. I was to return to work the next day and we talked about that and some limitations I would have at work as my radiation progressed. I was feeling lucky that I was able to work the early shift at Whole Foods and would be able to go to radiation each day at 5:00 p.m. I had used all my medical leave so was grateful that Whole Foods was able to accommodate my schedule. We left and I was feeling good about what was to come. 

The next day, I went to work at 7:30. By 9:00 I knew something was really wrong. I had a strong sensation of needing to urinate but was unable to. I called Kristen and by 11:00 I was in so much pain, I checked out and headed home. We called Dr. Zusman and he was in surgery. His office told us to go to urgent care. At urgent care they did an ultrasound and my bladder was full. They had Dr. Zusman’s nurse try to insert a catheter to get some relief. She tried several times including a children’s catheter but to no avail. Since they could not correct the problem they sent me to St. Vincent’s emergency room. Once there,  the emergency room personnel tried several times again to insert a catheter but were unable to. They did give me some pain medication.  They called up to surgery and Dr. Zusman said he would be down when he was done. It was about 5pm and I was still in immense pain. When Dr. Zusman got there he had a special machine to try to inset the catheter which did not work.  He was able to insert a scope and found that my urethra had collapsed and fused together, probably from having radiation so soon after the surgery.  The risk is that it that during surgery they might not be able to reopen the opening to my bladder and I would need to have a permanent catheter. So at 7:20 I was whisked up for surgery.

 Kristen’s story: I was totally in shock as they wheeled Mahina away. We had just gotten back to somewhat normal and now he was back in surgery. I went out to my car and called a few people and let them know what was going on. The hospital waiting room was deserted as all the surgeries were finished for the day. It was lonely and I was nervous and scared. My niece called and said she would come over and sit with me while I waitied. Our pastor also came over to be there. The surgery took about 2 hours. When Dr. Zusman came down after the surgery he siad they had a lot of trouble making an opeing to the bladder. There was a lot of scar tissue as well. They had about given up when they were able to insert the cathetar. He said Mahina could stay the night or go home as soon as he was out of recovery. I selfishly thought he should spend the night so I could get some sleep. But he was aching to get home and in his own bed. 

Back to Mahina -  When surgery was done all I wanted to do was go home.  So at 11:45 p.m. I checked out and headed home. It was rainy and cold and windy. Our windshield wiper broke on 217 and Kristen got out and broke it off. The rain was pouring down and we couldn’t see anything as we crept along 217.  Kristen cried the whole way home

 The next morning all the hope and upbeatness I had felt on Monday was gone. I was going to need to keep the catheter in until radiation was complete.  I was determined not to return to radiation if this is what I could expect.  I canceled my appointment for that day, and was adamant that I would not return. Thursday Kristen called Dr. Hung’s nurse and explained what was going on. Within the hour she got a call back that I could not stop radiation until I talked with Dr. Hung. I went in that evening expecting to talk to him and come home. He listened and we talked about the need to continue radiation.  As he escorted me out he had his hand on my back and guided me right into the treatment room. All of a sudden I was laying on the radiation bed and not even sure how I had gotten there.

 Kristen also had emailed my family and close friends about the surgery and my state of mind. My best friend from high school, who lives in Boston, hopped on a plane Friday morning and showed up at my door just before we were to leave for radiation. He went with us to radiation and for the next two days just hung out, watched football and was a silent support that helped me get back in to the right frame of mind to continue on with this fight. Although by Monday I was feeling better physically and mentally – the worst was yet to come.



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