I recently had to undergo a highly invasive and painful medical procedure and I was completely conscious the whole time. The process is called a flexible cystoscopy and I’ll save the details for those who are faint of heart, but please do look it up if you’re curious. In my humble opinion, most online accounts (from official medical resources) tend to significantly downplay how painful it is.
“Oh my,” I said, as it started. “I suppose that was unpleasant, but I imagined it being a lot worse because-” I stopped to wince, because the pain had suddenly reached a significantly.
“Yeah,” said the doctor who was working on me, “it’s a very unnatural thing to have done to you.”
“That’s okay,” I said, holding back the pain, “Every new experience is a valuable experience.”
The doctor reached a particularly painful part in the procedure. “I’m really, really sorry.”
“No need to apologise,” I said, “I should be thanking you for conducting a difficult procedure in the name of improving my health. Funnily enough, the last time I had something similar done, that other doctor was very apologetic too.”
“We’re only human,” she said.
“Yes, true, but, after all, you’re doing my a kindness, really. A painful kindness, I’ll admit, but a kindness all the same.”
“I’m glad you can see it that way,” she said. “Now, if you look to the screen to your right, you’ll be able to see the inside of your bladder.”
I turned my head to see the computer screen beside me. “Oh, very nice,” I said, “I always wondered what it looked like. It looks good to me, but how does it look to you? I obviously have no point of reference for bladder interiors.”
She explained that everything looked healthy and then gave me a little educational tour of my insides. Despite the pain, it was definitely interesting stuff. Sadly, the time then came to move onto the final part of the procedure which on the bright side meant the end was near, but that I’d be in a lot more pain.
“What do you do for a living, anyway?” said the nurse beside me, offering a distraction from a particularly painful moment.
“Funnily enough, I write about medical matters. So really, this is a valuable first hand research experience for me. Perhaps I’ll get to write about it one day.”
They laughed at that and said “We’re glad we could give you some writing material.”
“Right,” said the doctor, “all done now. You did remarkably well. We don’t often get people who are so friendly and chatty throughout the whole thing. Well done you.”
All in all, it took about fifty minutes. They spoke about my health for a little while afterwards (telling me everything was fine) before sending me on my way. There was a general feeling of stress and unease about me for about two days afterwards. I didn’t feel right at all and it just made me feel very sad – the longer it went on, the funnier it seemed to me that the doctor and the nurse had commented that I seemed to have ‘done well’ because the emotional and psychological impact on me was enormous. I’m fine now, thank goodness, but it goes to show how easily a person can be mistaken for taking something well, when they’re really not doing well at all. Keep in mind, should you ever find yourself experiencing something similar, that you’ll start to feel normal again eventually! Speaking to a friend of mine, it seems that this kind of response to medical trauma is actually very common, but I’d never heard of anything like it, so I thought it was important to write about my feelings in a blog post.