Last winter I spent five weeks on a catheter. The enlarged prostate that required this device is a condition unique to males, but catheterization is something experienced by both males and females. The experience left a variety of lasting im­pressions on me. Mainly I felt older and more vulnerable, and with the vulnerability came humiliation and, I hope, some increased humility.

The first time I walked out of a clinic carrying a Foley catheter bag, I was extremely self-conscious, to say the least, though other patients, with their own worries, probably paid little attention. There I was toting a bag the size of a purse. Winding into it, up from my ankle, was the transparent, urine-filled plastic piping the diameter of my little finger. It might as well have been a blinking yellow tube of neon.

There were some complications on the road to recovery, but let's keep the story short and simply say that laser surgery eventually and successfully addressed the problem. How sweet was the moment when, the catheter removed, I was able to again urinate on my own. I heard myself whispering enthusiastically, with no hint of disrespect or irony, "Thank you, Jesus!"