Dec 2013 – 6 Month Update

Having just passed my 6 month anniversary of my Prostate Surgery from earlier in the year thought it best to share where I’m at. My next PSA blood check is schedule for next month – Jan 2014 to make sure the cancer is still gone.

WARNING: Straight talk below so read on at your own risk of being offended.

Two areas of concern for me and I’m sure for any man after having their prostate removed via surgery (Davinci) was regaining total bladder control and full sexual function. All I can say is almost one out of two so far is far from ideal but beats being put 6 feet under by Cancer. 

First the bladder. No one likes to pee on themselves or leak/spot pee at various times of the day in their pants but that’s a reality for men recovering from this type of surgery. I hated it but was reassured by the Doctor after surgery that I was well ahead of most men at the time and that it would eventually stop. Well that was six months ago and now 6 months later I still leak occasionally. Absolutely hate it but have to admit I have improved significantly over that timeframe but it has been extremely slow going. Kegel exercises are the key to strengthening those muscles down there but even with those I still have a ways to go before I hope all the spotting and leaking is totally dried up and gone forever. In the meantime it is a constant daily annoyance and can become very debilitating psychologically in addition to being every present on my mind. 

Now, as far as sexual function for me at this stage it’s a no go. Sad to think but I truly feel and know my penis and all the pleasures it has brought me and my wife over the years will likely never recover. Of course, even without the cancer I wasn’t rewriting any of the sex record books anyway but it would have been nice to have had another go at them, even though prior to going into surgery performance was already declining. Yes, I’m aware of all the pills/devices available but I’m not going to jump through the hoops just yet to get an erection by any means available. I am on the Viagra but it only allows just the hint of an erection but nothing strong enough for penetration. Orgasms occur but only briefly in my mind … not near lasting enough to satisfy a partner. It’s not a body and mind experience any more the way it used to be. The fact a man can’t ejaculate semen after this surgery is another big negative and something that I strangely miss dearly. To top it off I am currently experiencing a little spoken of side affect called “Climacturia”. Disgusting topic so not going into any details here but you can click on the link for info. It doesn’t exactly encourage you to have sex. Doctor did discuss the dry ejaculations but not the possibility of Climacturia and I didn’t dig that deep in my pre surgery research. Wouldn’t have changed my mind I don’t think but something I would have liked to have known about prior and the surgeon never brought it up.

These are the issues I’ve had to live with and deal with daily for the last 6 months after prostate surgery. Hope by sharing these very personal details someone else might benefit from my experience.  Life is good and I’m still going strong and I’m here to attest to that so it not all bad news. I do think sometimes and wonder if I should have done the radiation treatment instead of prostate surgery and kept my prostate intact but I think that’s human nature to think what if. We always wonder if we make the right decisions but the truth is we live with what ever decision we make.

Hoping my blood work next month will continue to show the cancer is still gone. I’ll give another update on my recovery issues above in another 6 months.

-Donnie

Good to Go – Cancer Free

Just got the call from Vanderbilt hospital …. My PSA level was UNDETECTABLE …. which means I’m good to go – no sign of cancer any more … next check up is in 6 months. I can’t begin to express how relieved and happy I am … it’s been a long difficult  5+ months and now the best possible news. Now its checkups every 6 months to make sure it stays gone. Praise God and thanks to everyone that have been keeping me in their thoughts and prayers all these months. This is truly the sweetest of all days.

Donnie

Tomorrow’s Sweetest Day

6 weeks since surgery tomorrow but today was a trip to Vanderbilt Hospital for my long anticipated follow-up and blood work. Doctor said the usual positive things. From all accounts my bladder recovery is ahead of the norm and time will address other issues and concerns he said. He was confident they got all the cancer but held out the possibility there could still be some left behind as there was cancer cells found growing on one of the edges of my prostate. My PSA blood work will answer that question. They drew blood today and I should get a call tomorrow with the results. My two new friends that had the same surgery on the same day as me have both had there blood test completed and both had great results as their PSA levels were undetectable. This is what you want it to be. We are hoping when my results come in we will be 3 for 3 that are cancer free. It has been a long journey since my diagnosis back in February.

Today was sweet but tomorrow will be even sweeter.

5 week update

Tomorrow will mark 5 weeks since Prostate Surgery. My surgery scars are almost gone … just a few small scabs left where they punched 6 holes in me to attach the Da Vinci Robotic machine in order to perform the surgery. This is a vast improvement over the open type surgery of the past and I actually feel like I didn’t even have surgery it has healed so quickly. Inside there’s much more going on as things continue to heal where it counts the most. I continue to do the Kegel exercises to strengthen the muscles that directly affect the control of my bladder but total bladder control has not returned yet. This could be a long journey of months maybe even a year before I’ll know if I’ll ever have full control again. This is one of the most frustrating, humiliating and worrisome aspects of having prostate surgery. Leaking some urine occasionally throughout the day is not a fun thing at all and plays on your mind and can wreck havoc on your daily activities and choice of undergarments that must be adjusted to cope. The other area of concern is of course sex. This is another area that takes a heck of a hit to your manhood and will require much adjustment as well to get use to and make allowance for continuing to even enjoy sex any more without some type of aid of which there are many to choose from. Nevertheless suffice to say life will never be the same in this department ever again. With these two issues to deal with it is easy to see now just how different life will be without a prostate as part of my body.

I’m still waiting for some good news regarding all this but my follow-up appointment and PSA blood work won’t be done until the middle of July. I sure hope the news is positive and that they got all the cancer out. Hopefully I’ll find that out soon. One of my other friends that had the same surgery the same day as mine is having his follow-up appointment today. I am anxious to see what the doctor tells him and what his PSA blood work shows.

God – Around Every Turn

Time does pass … although when we are going through difficult ones it appears to stand still. Reached a milestone the other day and I’m now free of my tether (catheter). What a terrible week with that horrible but necessary device, for any Prostate Cancer Surgery patient, to endure. Now that it’s behind me I feel like I have really turned a corner and am hopeful it is all downhill from here. Life being the adventure God planned it to be one never knows. Kind of exciting in a way and scary in the way us humans think. Dr. Smith called and provided my pathology report on my prostate now that it has been extracted and gone over in detail with a microscope by those in the know. He says my cancer was sightly worse than what the biopsy had shown. My Gleason score based on my pre surgery biopsy was 6 (3+3) but this report upgraded that score to a Gleason Score of 7 (3+4). I’ve researched and read until my eyes are bleary what that all really means in the end but I’m no wiser by that analysis. God is in control and where he takes me I will go. From the human perspective he tells me July 15th is when I will get my next blood work done to determine what my PSA levels are. If they are “0” (zero) that the best news and probably means I’m now cancer free … like there is any certainty in such a statement. If it is anything but zero then it’s a sign that there may still be some cancer cells that made there way outside the prostate before they got it out. He did say that they found cancer cells on the edge of part of my prostate which could mean it wasn’t all completely contained within. If that is the case it will mean “salvage” radiation treatment daily for 6-8 weeks and the saga will drag on. Doesn’t sound like fun but I have friends that had similar results, had the post surgery radiation treatment, and has been clean for 10 years or more now. I feel sore down there but good overall and incontinence doesn’t seem to be an issue so far. That was wonderful news in and of itself as that is one of the chief draw back to having surgery that many men experience. The other being sexual disfunction which is a TBD right now for me. More twist and turns to come but I know God is there waiting to catch me around every turn. Not to worry … time for a walk and to just give thanks for this day.

Recovery Begins

Hard to put into words exactly the experience of having prostate surgery and beginning recovery without delving into some areas most people don’t want to hear about. Not even sure I want to write about them. Suffice to say this is not a fun time at all and still a time of great uncertainty and anxiety. Anytime surgery reconstruction in a man happens below the belly button it’s just not a good thing. Everything is affected in one way or another. This is my 3rd day at home and it’s not a pretty sight. I wonder sometimes how would it be possible for me to feel any less helpless and vulnerable. My angel is my wife, Yong, who’s constant attention and love provides all the loving care a partial invalid could ever ask for. I’m walking gingerly a little each day and taking my meds but the only real game changer is TIME. I’ve never been a patient man and patience is exactly what you need to get through something like this. I only have to remind myself that there are far worst things in life and in relative terms this is a cake walk compared to the trials others must face. Nevertheless … being as self-centered as we are nothing seems more important than what’s happening to us at any given moment. I’d like to say each day is gradually getting better but I’m not sure that would be accurate. There are ups and downs each day and I try not to focus to much on any one thing. The mind can still bring me to my knees sometimes and fears still seem to kick in from time to time. My next milestone will be having the catheter removed on June 6th. Follow-up with my surgeon won’t be until July 15th which right now seems like an eternity from today.

Home today

Surgery completed succesfully yesterday and I’m home already after only 1 night in the hospital. Sore but doing pretty good considering what’s taken place in the last 36 hours. Hopefully as the days roll by my body will slowly return back to normal as I regain strength and mobility. Hard for me to take it easy but will have no choice for the next month or so. Thanks to all for thoughts and prayers.

Donnie