My wife and I were looking for a cure, and all of the information we were getting was that, given my set of circumstances, surgery was best. And all the information I was getting was, “Get this thing out of you.” Another factor was that I was young enough that people were saying, “Look, you’ve got a long life to live.
So then it was a question of who was going to perform the surgery. If you were in your 70s, it might be a different story.” They all explained that I might develop impotence or incontinence afterward.
For much of that time, he felt ill-served by the medical community. The biggest fear, of course, is that it might be life-threatening. She’s a very strong and good person, and she remained at my side every moment of the time. We had a meeting with a radiation oncologist at a major teaching hospital.
The story of how he eventually overcame this problem may be helpful to other men in the same situation. Even though I knew this is generally a disease that takes a long time to grow, I still wondered how much longer I might have to live. He looked at my medical history, then he looked me in the eye, and he said, “I know I can cure you, but the research is not on my side.
But as time went on, nothing was getting any better. In a typical visit, I waited a half hour or an hour to see him for literally five minutes, and then he moved on to the next person. I had no problem at night, and I think for most people that’s the case.
But when I got up, I was going through anywhere from four to five pads a day.
By then I’ve finished urinating, or if I haven’t, I do it again.
The hurt for me was not necessarily that I developed incontinence.
An inflatable cuff surrounds the urethra; when inflated, it prevents urine from leaking out of the bladder (see A). If we want to go that route, which is very helpful in terms of creating more firmness, it means taking a pill and planning ahead. For me, the biggest change is that dealing with all of this enabled my wife and me to readdress our sexual life.
A pressure regulation balloon implanted in the lower abdomen ensures that the cuff remains inflated until it is time to urinate. I can walk around, exercise, do everything I normally do, and I don’t feel it. There are times when I can have intercourse without the aid of any chemical. And I think, as a man, you sort of think it’s all about being hard and being up, and I think what has happened is that I’m now able to focus more on the other person, which I might not have been doing as well prior to this operation.
When I feel the need to urinate, I go to the toilet, and I squeeze the pump in my scrotum with one hand.
By pressing the pump, I deflate this cuff, and the pressure comes off the urethra. Then probably 35 to 40 seconds later, the balloon fills back up.
I used a high-absorbency pad that tied around my hips on both sides, and I’d change it throughout the day. It was embarrassing, and it was the last thing I wanted to deal with.
I tried doing Kegel exercises, to control the flow, but nothing worked. The strength and proper action of your pelvic floor muscles are important in maintaining continence. After I told a friend about all my mishaps, he suggested I ask about having an artificial sphincter inserted. I did consult one surgeon about it, but he hadn’t done many of these operations. And I must say it has changed my whole life for the better.
One reason that I finally chose the surgeon I did was because the complication rates he quoted were lower than the others’.
He really believed that there was less than a 1% chance that I’d have an incontinence issue, and a 30% chance of impotence. I mean, here were all the big guns in town, and his numbers seemed like the best. And the feedback was, “He’s got great hands.” We knew that his bedside manner left a lot to be desired, but I thought, “Who needs bedside manner?
I just wished my original surgeon had been more honest with me.
And I’d advise other men that they really need to question the numbers about side effects.