Scar Tissue

scarsI completed a second session with Jenn, my Physical Therapist this week.  The exercises are becoming more complex.  I’ve added abdominal muscle activities to my routine of pelvic floor exercises and breathing.  You might think breathing seems redundant but trust me, it’s not as intuitive as one might think.  There’s a strong tendency to hold your breath while coordinating exercises between various muscle groups.  Oh, and I’ve added some leg motion.  It’s a regular hokey pokey.

PTs never fail to impress and Jenn is a master at making scar tissue disappear.  During our first visit, Jenn taught me to rub the scar tissue that has formed around my surgical incisions to hasten their recovery.  Today, she spent a good deal of time rubbing my incisions and demonstrated to me how the scar tissue has quite literally vanished.  And it doesn’t return.  Simply rub your finger tip, with some lotion, in a circular motion on top of the scar.  Do this for several minutes on a regular basis.  It’s like flattening out air bubbles.  The tissue simply melts away.  Brilliant.

This pic is two days after my surgery.  Honestly, that bloating is from gas used during surgery to expand my abdomen.  My tummy is normally fairly flat.  Seriously.  My flesh is this butt white though.  There are five incisions.  The one in the lower left of the photo is hard to see for some reason.  Five weeks later the color has faded from all the incisions.  I think they will be difficult to spot quite soon.  Especially once my hair grows back.  You should expect similar markings.  The ugly incision on the top right was for the JP Drain.  My prostate was removed via the incision across my belly button.  These wounds remained tight feeling even after my stomach pain eased three weeks later.  This rubbing Jenn taught me is dispersing that tightness.  Good progress.

Physical Therapy

Pelvic FloorIn retrospect, I’m not sure I should have expressed such enthusiasm over my first PT visit.  I envisioned learning some useful exercises to control abdominal muscles.  I was told to expect kegel exercises.  While I wasn’t experiencing huge issues with incontinence, I was in fact starting to have more incidences of unintended dribbles after coughing, sneezing and flatulence.  And based on my experience, PTs just know lots of cool muscle information.  To my surprise however, this turned out to be the most exhaustive rectal exam of my life.  Part of my consolation from surrendering an organ to prostate cancer was in the misguided belief that I would never again require a rectal exam.  Ignorance is bliss.

I will say, my rectum seems less sensitive these days.  Not that it’s any more receptive.  Perhaps there is more room sans prostate.  Or could be the deadened nerves.  Beyond the waning physical sensation, any pride I once had is now increasingly desensitized as well.  I wore sweat pants with an elastic waistband.  On a certain level, I probably knew what to expect.  I’m telling you though, because no one told me.

My PT, Jennifer Davia, was highly professional and knowledgeable; and despite the circumstances I enjoyed talking with her.  Jen is CAPP-pelvic certified and specializes in pelvic dysfunction.  My Urologist sends all his patients to see her.  She explained the pelvic floor muscles to me.  A group of 3 muscles actually, puboco-this and ilioco-that.  I didn’t take notes but she showed me a model of the pelvic floor muscles as she talked.  She had me lay on my side and perform a series of kegel-like exercises for 10 or 15 minutes while she probed my pelvic floor muscles.  She determined my left side is a bit weaker than my right.  Big surprise.  Every running injury I ever incur is to my left side.  The series of exercises I performed, quick contractions and long contractions, are what I now have as a twice daily routine.  Should be more pleasant at home without half of Jen’s digits up my arse.  Jen emailed me the exercises from a site she subscribes to – PhysioTools.  I’ll return weekly three more times to check my progress and learn more advanced exercises.

After having my catheter removed on April 10th, my only other medical visit was Tuesday for a blood draw to record my PSA score for next Monday’s Urology consultation.  A full month on my own.  I did nearly call my Urologist several times about my burning meatus.  I expected my penis pain to subside much sooner and wondered if I didn’t have an infection.  But I was conflicted.  I also didn’t want my doctor scolding me for being a hypochondriac, saying, “Of course your penis hurts, it was recently impaled by a catheter for 8 days!”  So I took advantage of my blood draw to also have a urinalysis performed.  That’s the sort of thing a medical assistant can do in any office.  I learned from this that I don’t have an infection.  I do have blood in my urine still.  However, at a level that is to be expected after my surgery.  So all is good and I was able to stealthily learn this without bothering my Urologist.

Last point is I’m starting to really feel recovered.  I intend to try running tomorrow, which would be a full six weeks ahead of schedule.  Probably just 3 miles since that is what I currently walk.  Not sure if I’ll share that story in my running blog or here.  Maybe both sites.