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Excruciating Pain

It all started in September 1966, when I had brain surgery in Cleveland to remove a benign tumor (chromophobe adenoma) that was threatening my life. I was just coming out of a coma caused by extreme pain of the tumor pressing on my optic nerve. Unfortunately, when an ill-trained orderly was assigned to give me a catheter, my woozy brain thought that I was under physical attack, and I struggled with him. That only caused him to try all the harder, which resulted in a scarred urethra which is still with me.

Tomorrow, I visit my urologist for a procedure known as a dilation or a cystogram tray. The doctor sends a catheter with a tiny camera up my urethra all the way to the bladder. The only pain which I think is comparable is a spinal tap.

After I recovered from my brain surgery, I found I had trouble urinating. It reached a crescendo several months later, when during a film screening I was putting on at UCLA, I found I had to urinate—but nothing was coming out. A friend drove me across campus to the UCLA Hospital, where the urologist on duty was sent for, and the passage was widened.

For the next several years, into the 1970s, I had a problem with gradual shutdown of my urethra. Fortunately, in recent years, it isn’t quite so bad. However, my urologist wants me to be dilated every six months. Tomorrow at 11 AM, I go in for my semi-annual torture.