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“Does this hurt?” I asked him, as I placed the tip of the hemostat into the small opening.

“No. I don’t have much sensation down there since my stroke.”

Thinking that rather convenient IĀ attempted to dilate the puckered foreskin so that I could at least see the glans and then maybe even the urethral meatus.

“Ouch.”

“Sorry,” I said and then injected a syringe of lubricant into the moist opening barely big enough to accept a 12 French catheter, hoping that I might find the meatus with gentle explorations of the lubricated catheter tip and some small measure of good fortune. He hadn’t urinated in over eight hours, night was approaching, his bladder scan showed over 300 cc of urine, and I didn’t have the skill set to surgically address his problem.

I had never seen a case such as this. I had learned of it long ago, but had no reason to think of it since. I had not run across it in a movie, or a novel, or a trade journal; nonetheless, it surfaced in my mind, like a bubble released from the ocean depths, an obscure word with a funny spelling, phimosis.

“He has phimosis. Have Tala get the number for the urologist on call,” I asked his nurse.

I hadn’t been struggling to think of it. It just came. Unbidden. Effortless. And, I thought that was pretty cool–how the mind works, and how we don’t understand how it works, and that the only answer seems to be that there must be a God.

Michaelangelo’s David had phimosis.