My story is nearing the end. I doubt I’ll have much more meaningful content to share with you regarding my experience with prostate cancer. I completed my final physical therapy followup this afternoon with Jenn. I would consider continuing to see her for running-related injuries and whatnot. She’s good. And after our initial encounter, I feel sort of close to Jenn now. Her specialty though is pelvic floor related health issues, not aging runners. I know because I asked.
Turns out Jenn has quite extensive experience in a number of PT disciplines including spinal injuries and head trauma. She spent some time reviewing my leg muscles and determined – big surprise – my left side is weaker than my right. Either from or as a result of that, my right leg is shorter due to a maladjusted hip. She recommended some hip exercises: the hip abductor, hip adductor and clam shell. All seem relatively simple. I plan to try them out to strengthen my left side in an attempt to mitigate future running injuries.
With my urinary continence now under control, I intend to speak to my urologist about where I am with ED on our next visit. I forget when that is exactly but we are to meet quarterly for the next two years. Essentially, I’m fine with erections. Well, marginally functional. I’m less fine on the topic of climax. I actually can’t tell you if I’ve had one or not. I believe I have but the experience is that slight. My penis experiences contractions, but they generate only a fractional sensation of what I remember an orgasm feeling like. It makes perfect sense to me that my nerves need to fully regenerate throughout my pelvic floor, which I am told will take a full year. But I still would like to understand more details on this topic. The one thing I have learned is my Urologist tends to share information with me as he thinks I need it. That’s probably fair because if he told me stuff too far in advance, I would not be focused on it and would forget half of it. Considering I have erections though, working toward a climax seems like the logical next step.
In fact, I’m in the mood now for a thorough understanding of the post-prostatectomy experience. And I’d rather the information come from my doctor because googling this topic is polluting my computer with nefarious URLs in my browser history. I bet you didn’t know about prostate massages. I do now. Seems like the sort of thing that would have maybe been useful to know about before I had my prostate removed. Nurses advertise online to provide this milking service. Well, at least I think they are nurses. They say they are nurses and that a prostate massage promotes good prostate health. That and Saw Palmetto should keep your prostate cancer free. Seriously, click on that link above and look into it. Become an expert on the topic.
I bought a book two weeks ago on erectile dysfunction and post-prostatectomy orgasms from Harvard Health Publications. Ironically it just arrived in the mail today. One might think you could only read about such topics on the Internet but Harvard is bold enough to write on these topics in hard copy. Not so sure I’m comfortable letting the book sit out on the coffee table. I’d prefer to download a copy to my Kindle so I could read it more privately. Looking very forward though to the content in order to become more informed on the topic.
If this does in fact turn out to be my final story to this blog, I hope you do well. And I hope you found some of my stories useful. I will know when I have comments and will of course reply back. You can remain anonymous. Don’t hesitate to reach out.
“No sex, no drugs, no wine, no women. No fun, no sin, no you, no wonder it’s dark…I think I’m turning Japanese…I really think so.” Great ’80s tune about turning out surprisingly different from your own expectations. Mostly I think to myself that my prostate cancer is not so dramatic. I always believed it curable and not especially worrisome. But that’s a lie. It changed me. It continues to change me. I really think so.
Whether coincidentally or purposefully, my lifestyle has turned decidedly more healthy. I’m exercising less for enjoyment and more from a disciplined regimen to promote healing. Did I just use the word “discipline”? See? That’s not me. My spouse recently decided to abstain from alcohol. At least temporarily. Add that to menopausal hot flashes. Being a team player, she expects me to join in her abstention. She needs to work on her timing. No erections, no weed, no beer, no wonder I’m stressed. I think I’m turning Japanese, I really think so.
I’m planning an 80 mile backpacking trip with two best friends from high school the last week of June along the Continental Divide. I committed to it before I even had my catheter removed. It was hugely important to me emotionally at the time and remains so. But I’ve been way over the top in my distraction with it. All my web browser searches are for REI-this and trailhead-that. And my email correspondence to my trail mates is increasingly aggressive and psychotic. “Everyone around me is a total stranger. Everyone avoids me like a cyclone ranger. That’s why I’m turning Japanese…I really think so.” The question of whether or not I’ll be medically fit for this hike increases in validity as the date draws near. I know I’m physically fit. And emotionally, I need the release it will provide. No doubt I’m going. If all I can do is drive to each trailhead and camp out waiting for my buddies to conclude each segment of their hike, I’ll do it.
I wrapped up my regular physical therapy sessions with Jenn today. I will still have a follow-up session in another month. She trained me on some great exercise routines. Jenn also filled in the information gaps for questions I neglected to ask of my Urologist. And of course the scar tissue treatment was bonus. My mission is to integrate some of my exercises into my everyday activities. Part of my muscle weakness is directly due to the trauma of surgery, but part of it is from the absence of my prostate. I will constantly need to be vigilant about practicing muscle control with my pelvic floor and abdominals. I’ll never piss the same again. I really think so.
I 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.