As you may remember, I have been in the hospital at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland since 23 July -- when it became evident that, after having a prostatectomy on 25 June, I had incurred a condition called lymphedema -- which is to say, the production of fluids in excess of what the body could reabsorb and their pooling in a place within the body where they cause trouble.
In my case, the fluids had pooled in a cavity near my left kidney, where they were putting pressure on the muscles that control axial motion in my left leg. Put more simply, it became an agony to get into a bucket seat in a car, and things were going to get worse.
In the weeks that I have been here, the physicians and technical staff drained about a liter of liquid out of the cavity and left the catheter in to drain any fluid that might collect thereafter. It was their hope initially that the flow would dry up and this would do the trick. When the flow continued at about one-fifth of a liter a day, they tried sclerosis -- using a drying agent, in my case rubbing alcohol, to cause the cavity to crumple up and shrink. This had the requisite effect on the cavity but the flow continued at the established rate.
On Friday, they pulled the catheter on the presumption that it was acting like a wick and eliciting flow. On Monday, they did an ultrasound to see whether the liquid was pooling once again in the pertinent cavity. It was -- but where, in the past, almost a liter had collected -- there was roughly 16% of a liter: not enough to cause me muscle problems.
Today they did a second ultrasound with similar results, and by this evening I will be released from the hospital. My wife is up north collecting our children from their long-suffering and generous grandparents. When she returns with our munchkins in tow at about 9 p.m., we will all head home.
With luck, I will not have to return for further treatment. If that happens, however -- if the lymphedema once again causes tendonitis or something like it -- it will mean surgery.
Thank you all for your prayers, for your visits, for the books you sent or dropped off, for the fruit and chocolate delivered, and for your offers of help. It has been a bit of an ordeal, and your concern bucked me up.