Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Incontinence & Climacturia Five Years Post Prostate Surgery

I learned a surprising number of lessons the day I had my first urinary accident in many years. I knelt down to go on the floor to play with my granddaughter. Suddenly I felt a surge of urine. I looked down to discover that I'd wet my pants.

I was immediately taken back in time to the first time I'd wet my pants in public. I was in the mall on the second floor when I began to feel what I thought were ceiling leaks dripping on my shoes. To my shock and embarrassment I discovered my pants were urine soaked and I was dripping urine onto my shoes.

I literally ran out the out of the mall convinced that everyone who saw me noticed my wet pants and knew that I'd leaked urine all over myself. I drove home changed my clothing and told my wife that was the end of my leaving the house while I was living in diapers. I wouldn't see any visitors and I refused to go anywhere. I imprisoned myself at home feeling embarrassed and ashamed I'd lost the ability to control my urination. To say I was depressed would be an understatement. I wished had a time machine. I'd like the opportunity go back in time to the mall and I tell myself the following:

"Rick it's no big deal you leaked through your diaper. Wearing diapers and having an accident doesn't turn back the clock and transform you into a little child. The fact is you are a cancer warrior & survivor. Yes it's miserable losing bladder control and yes you'll hate living in diapers and having accidents in public, but this isn't a catastrophe, it's a learning experience. Very soon you'll learn how often you need to change your diapers. Once you've learned this lesson, your days of leaking through to your pants will come to an end. So hang tight, be brave, and don't lose your sense of humor." Stop with the self condemnation and shame. 

Walk (rather than run) out of the mall with your head held high. While your pants are wet with urine, the fact is few, if anyone will even notice. If someone does notice your wet pants, they are much more likely to think you spilled a soft drink on yourself  as opposed to thinking you leaked through your diaper. So stop with the self condemnation, embarrassment and shame.  As a result of this accident, it won't be long before you'll learn to manage living in diapers. Your days of leaking through your pants will end very soon. Not only that,  you'll be out of diapers within three months.  

While I can't go back in time to change the past, I can bring the lessons I've learned into the present, When I looked down and saw big wet spot on my pants, my reaction to this urinary accident surprised me. I found myself laughing out loud. I was astounded!  I'd just wet my pants and there I was laughing. Rather than use my imagination to get embarrassed or shame myself, I imagined playing with my granddaughter on the floor with the both of us in diapers. (I was glad not to be in diapers) wetting our pants together.was enough of commonality for me.

After a good laugh, I was overwhelmed with a feeling of gratitude. I was cancer free and l lived long enough to become a first time grandparent. Five months from now, I'll be a grandfather for the second time. If I had to live in diapers while playing with my two grandchildren it would be fine with me.

Within a day of leaking through my pants I had another unpleasant blast from the past. During sex, I urinated while experiencing an orgasm. This is called climacturia. Many men suffer this disturbing issue but few who have prostate surgery are warned this may occur.
"Although the urine leakage resolved for some men over time, 36 percent of them still had the problem -- called climacturia -- two years after surgery. And 12 percent of the men called it a "major bother."

I was one of those men who considered this symptom a MAJOR bother.  The last time this happened I was so embarrassed and ashamed I was ready to give up on sexual activity. When this happened again, my attitude surprised me. Here's what went through my mind:
Thought #1  "Oh no"
Thought#2   "Oh well"
Thought #3   "I wondered whether I just put a urine stain on our new and expensive sleep                            number bed. So I asked my wife: 'Did we purchased mattress protectors?"                            She said we did. A wave of relief swept over me.
Thought #4   It's time to wash our sheets and mattress protector.
Thought #5   If this happens again, I'm glad to know I won't ruin our mattress.

Gone was the humiliation and shame. The thought of ending our sexual relationship never occurred to me. If this unpleasant symptom was going to be with us for a while, I knew both of us would be ok.

As Paul Harvey use to say, "Here's the rest of the story" A few days prior to all of this happening I was given a new prescription to treat my blood pressure. The medication is caused Norvasc. My wife who happens to be a nurse did a little bit of research and discovered urinary leakage is a potential side effect. If I can't overcome these issues by performing kegels, I'll ask my Doctor for a new blood pressure medication.

I'm relieved the return of these symptoms are not permanent, but I have a greater sense of relief, if these symptoms did return permanently my reaction to them would be totally different.

Rick Redner and his wife Brenda are the authors of an awarding winning book written to help men and couples cope with life without a prostate. The tile of the book is:
 I Left My Prostate in San Francisco-Where’s Yours? 
Coping With The Emotional, Relational, Spiritual & Sexual Aspects of Prostate Cancer

 You can read a few pages at no cost in order to decide whether this is a book you'd want in your library:

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Grief, What is it Good For? Coping With Loss, That's What

Here are a few verses from one of my favorite passages in the Bible. If you've had your prostate removed, there will be many unpleasant changes you'll face with regard to your sexuality.

Eccl 3:1-6-6

To everything there is a season,
A time for every purpose under heaven.......
And a time to heal;
A time to break down,
And a time to build up; 
A time to weep,
And a time to laugh;
A time to mourn,
And a time to dance; 
A time to cast away stones,
And a time to gather stones;
A time to embrace,
And a time to refrain from embracing; 
A time to gain,
And a time to lose;

These verses are a reminder there is a season where we must grieve our losses before we can embrace the changes. What has prostate surgery taken away from your sexuality? I''ll give you a list of what surgery took away from me:

1. All my sexual triggers-Everything that once excited me and brought me to an erection, sights, sounds, smells, visual  imagery, words, all gone. I remain limp and unexcited by everything that once excited me and gave me an erection.

2. Erections were a signal that I was excited, once I lost those signals it felt as though my entire sexual history was wiped out. I was living in an unfamiliar body.I had no idea how to gauge whether or not I was aroused. After all a flaccid penis is not associated with arousal.

3. The intensity of my orgasms were so diminished I wasn't even sure when or if I had one.

4. I missed the excitement of ejaculation. Dry orgasms were disappointing to me.

5. I lost my confidence in the bedroom. Sometimes I'd respond to injections or Ed medication. The majority of the time I  remained flaccid. I never knew whether or not I'd be hard enough for penetration. This created performance anxiety which served to increase my failure rate.

6. I leaked urine when I had an orgasm. This added two new unpleasant feelings to my sex life-shame and disgust.

For a period of time I isolated myself from my wife. I not only gave up on sex, I also gave up on all forms of physical affection. Kissing, holding hands, touching one another, these previously pleasant acts of affection became bitter reminders of what I'd lost.

I don't know whether it was the shame, disgust or embarrassment or all three, but I couldn't discuss these issues with anyone, including my wife. Isolated and alone I had no idea how to cope with these losses.

I had no idea that I needed to grieve these losses in order to move on and embrace a new post surgery sexuality. The odds are you'll need to grieve your losses as well. It's not a easy or short term process.

Here are some links to read about this topic:

Coping With Loss & Grief
Good Grief
Healing From Grief
Grief & Emotional Health

There's a cliché about grief that;s often said, but it's totally untrue. "Time heals all wounds." Time does not heal ANY wounds. It's the transformation in your thinking over the course of time that heals wounds. If you have not begun the grief process I encourage you to take three important steps:
1. Make a list of everything you've lost since you were diagnosed with cancer.
2. Add to the list your thoughts and feelings and conclusions you've made about life and living in the face of each loss
3. Share this with someone you trust.

If someone told you that "time heals all wounds" DON'T BELIEVE THEM! You can remain stuck with unresolved grief and depression for decades. In order to heal from grief, it takes a change in your thinking over the course of time in order to heal from grief and loss. It took me almost two years before I was ready to embrace my post-surgery sexuality. Since no two people are alike, the time it will take you is unknown, but it's a necessary journey to reclaim your sex life after prostate surgery.

Rick Redner and his wife Brenda are the authors of an awarding winning book written to help men and couples cope with life without a prostate. I Left My Prostate in San Francisco-Where’s Yours? 
Coping With The Emotional, Relational, Spiritual & Sexual Aspects of Prostate Cancer can  be previewed and purchased at

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Christmas Offers Hope To Those Coping With Cancer

Historians believe crucifixion was first used in Persia in 519 BC. Psalm 22 was written somewhere between 1037-967 BC which was BEFORE death by crucifixion was used in the ancient world. Yet the writer of the Psalm 22 describes Jesus death scene perfectly.
Ps 22:16-18
The congregation of the wicked has enclosed Me.
They pierced My hands and My feet;
I can count all My bones.
They look and stare at Me.
They divide My garments among them,
And for My clothing they cast lots.
John 19:23-24
Then the soldiers, when they had crucified Jesus, took His garments and made four parts, to each soldier a part, and also the tunic. Now the tunic was without seam, woven from the top in one piece. They said therefore among themselves, "Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it, whose it shall be,”
Statistically speaking the probability that Jesus of Nazareth could have fulfilled even eight of prophecies listed below would be only 1 in 1017. 1 in 100, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000.
If you didn't celebrate Christmas, it's highly likely you have not conducted a prayerful & careful examination of Jesus life, His teachings, His death and resurrection and compared them to the to 353 prophecies that Jesus fulfilled. There is nothing in this life you can believe in that has a higher statistical probability of being true. That's why I celebrated Christmas yesterday.
It's why I can say with Paul:
1 Cor 15:54-55
So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: "Death is swallowed up in victory."
"O Death, where is your sting?
O Hades, where is your victory?"
I can also be assured that why I die this is what happens in an instant::
2 Cor 5:6-8                                                                                                                                              So we are always confident, knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord. 7 For we walk by faith, not by sight. 8 We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord. 

That's a great hope and comfort to anyone diagnosed with cancer.
353 Prophecies Jesus Fulfilled

Rick Redner and his wife Brenda are the authors of an awarding winning book written to help men and couples cope with life without a prostate. I Left My Prostate in San Francisco-Where’s Yours?
Coping With The Emotional, Relational, Spiritual & Sexual Aspects of Prostate Cancer can  be previewed and purchased
I Left My Prostate in San Francisco-Where's Yours?

Saturday, November 14, 2015

What You Don't Know Can Kill You?

After my wife and I wrote our book together,  I've heard from hundreds of people coping with life without a prostate. There's a letter I received from a widow that I cannot get out of my head. I think about this tragedy many times each month. In fact this letter is what eventually moved me to begin writing a book about penile implants.
Here's the letter:

"My husband had a robotic prostatectomy.  It cured his cancer, but left him impotent. This killed his soul. We loved each other deeply and each of us knew that, but there was nothing I could do to heal his pain. If I tried to initiate intimacy, he would become anxious and push me away. Alternately, he would initiate intimacy when he had self-medicated with alcohol. This was difficult for me and never had a good outcome. Humor didn't go far, either. He felt damaged. He wasn't a group kind of guy, so he never received professional help for his emotional pain. He went deeper into depression. On August 7th he committed suicide. While his impotence wasn't the only issue that drove him to his decision to end his life, it was a major factor in his feeling life wasn't worth living.  It's heart-breaking for our family".

Here's a section from the introduction of the book I'm writing about penile implants:

When I received the news I’d be impotent for the rest of my life, I left that appointment without any hope things could be different. My reaction to the news I’d spend the rest of my life impotent immediately brought about a major depressive episode.

Ironically, the physician who gave me this news would later be the surgeon who performed my penile implant surgery. When he told me I’d be impotent for the rest of my life, he FAILED to mention penile implants as an option. I left his office that day feeling hopeless for months on end before I came up with the idea of a penile implant on my own. There are far too many men like me who were left feeling miserable, depressed and unaware there are amazing alternatives to restore erectile functioning.

Whatever is causing your erectile dysfunction, I want you to know there is hope. To determine how to best treat the underlying cause of your erectile dysfunction involves an act of courage on your part. The journey toward healing begins with you making an appointment to see a Doctor to evaluate the cause of your erectile dysfunction.

Rick Redner & his wife Brenda wrote an award winning book to help men and couples cope with life before, during and after prostate surgery. Here's the link:
I Left My Prostate in San Francisco-Where's Yours?

Monday, September 28, 2015

Cancer & Family Milestones

A milestone is an action or event marking a significant change or stage in development. I'm sure I wasn't the only one diagnosed with prostate cancer who wondered whether the diagnosis of cancer would cause me to miss some important milestones like becoming a grandfather, walking my daughter down the isle, or retirement.

Happily, I lived long enough to become a grandfather. This week, one of my son's is  moving from our home in CA to WV for a job he's wanted for years. Because cancer has changed my perspective on what's important in life, I made arrangements to take off from work for a month. (More accurately, I'm working from the road.) My wife &  I are driving with him on a 2,700 mile road trip across the country to help him move into his new apt.

On the way to WV we are stopping in Illinois to visit our oldest son &  his wife. After we spend some time helping our son move in, my wife & I are flying to Florida to enjoy a two week romantic vacation.

I wish I could say with certainty these are things I would have done before I was diagnosed with cancer, but I can't. As a cancer survivor, every milestone I live long enough to see has a new importance and meaning to me. So as I share in this journey across the country my heart breaks to be so far away from my son. I also experience a heart filed with gratitude that  I lived long enough to celebrate a family milestone. What important life lesson you've learned from cancer?
Rick Redner and his wife Brenda are the authors of an awarding winning book written to help men and couples cope with life without a prostate. I Left My Prostate in San Francisco-Where’s Yours?
Coping With The Emotional, Relational, Spiritual & Sexual Aspects of  Prostate Cancer
 can  be previewed and purchased at

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

The Day The Laughter Died Coping With Prostate Cancer

When I received the news I had prostate cancer, laughter was the furthest thing from my mind. As a Medical Social Worker, I witnessed many people die from cancer. This was before the Hospice Movement and the emphasis on pain control. In those days, powerful pain relieving drugs were withheld from terminally ill patients. The reasoning behind this decision was to prevent a terminally ill patient from becoming addicted to pain killing drugs. There was no way I was going to "laugh my way through cancer."

Three words with vivid images came to my mind after hearing I had prostate cancer. The three words were:
1. Pain
2. Suffering
3. Death

All three of these words brought multiple images of the people I'd known who died from cancer. Each and every one of those images brought waves of terror into my life.The prospect of surviving prostate cancer wasn't something I entertained as a possibility.

I believed I'd been handed a death sentence.  As a Christian, a  familiar Bible verse offered me some immediate comfort.
2 Cor 5:7-8
 For we walk by faith, not by sight. We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.

I knew in the instant of the death of my body, I'd be with the Lord. My problem was that I wasn't ready to be with the Lord. I wanted to live long enough to walk my daughter down the isle. I wanted to live long enough to become a grandfather. I wanted to live long enough to retire and spend time with my wife traveling together.

After I received the diagnosis of  cancer I was convinced I'd lost all of those opportunities. The only question for me was how many pain free months did I have left  before I'd beg to die from cancer. To say I was terrified would be an understatement. I'd never experienced such fear in my lifetime.

Oddly enough, on the day I was diagnosed I knew I had to break the grip of fear that had over taken me. The only way I could think of to do this was to find a way to laugh at cancer. I went on line in search for prostate cancer jokes. These were my two favorite jokes that brought on hearty laughter:

Doctor: I've got your test results and some bad news. You have cancer and Alzheimer's.
Man: Boy, am I lucky! I was afraid I had cancer!

Doctor: (After performing a digital rectal exam tells his patient) I’ve got bad news for you. I felt a suspicious lump and I am ordering a biopsy.
Patient: I’d like you to repeat the exam using a different finger.
Doctor: Why should I do that?
Patient: Because I’d like a second opinion.

I wish I could say that I effectively used humor throughout my entire journey coping with cancer. I can't. The song American Pie speaks of  "the day the music died" I vividly remember the day when laughter died. I'd been coping with the loss of urinary control and erectile functioning for a few weeks and I'd had enough. I'd been leaking through my diapers on a regular basis. The embarrassment and shame was so great I refused to leave the house or have any visitors. I wanted to be left alone in my misery. I hated my life. I hated cancer. I regretted my decision to have my prostate removed. I came to the conclusion my life was ruined forever. There I was, cured of cancer. I'd received a reprieve from a death sentence, yet  I was sorry to be alive. That was the day my laughter died. Nothing was funny or humorous. I had no desire to laugh or even crack a smile. I hated my life. I regretted my decision to treat prostate cancer.

It was a comic strip that brought laughter back into my life. My wife described it to me. It was a picture of Charley Brown coming to the decision to hate one day at a time. As I heard my wife say that I burst out laughing. That line of reasoning may not sound funny to everyone, but for me it was a stroke of genius, an amazingly healthy perspective.

At the time,  I was projecting my hatred of my life years and decades into the future. Just the idea of learning to hate one day at time was a very humorous challenge to me. It brought both laughter and gratitude back into my life.

I don't know what it will take for you to bring humor into your life as you cope with cancer, but I can heartily recommend a minimum of one good laugh a day. There is someone who has a lot more wisdom, power and authority than me, who agrees on the benefits of laughter:
Prov 17:22
A merry heart does good, like medicine,

Rick Redner and his wife Brenda are the authors of an awarding winning faith based book written to help men and couples cope with life without a prostate. I Left My Prostate in San Francisco-Where’s Yours? Coping With The Emotional, Relational, Spiritual & Sexual Aspects of Prostate Cancer can  be previewed and purchased at

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Get Yourself Tested For Prostate Cancer

As a prostate cancer survivor it's hard for me to believe these powerful and influential organizations have come out in favor of delayed testing for prostate cancer even though prostate cancer among younger men has increased sixfold in the past 20 years. Despite this fact, all four of these organizations suggest we do less rather than more prostate cancer screening. These organizations believe men are so dumb and/or fearful, they literally can't handle the truth about prostate cancer. They conclude the majority of men diagnosed with prostate cancer will make a regrettable and medically unnecessary treatment decisions, therefore, the best thing we can do is keep men in the dark and ignorant about prostate cancer.

There are new tests available to help men decide whether their cancer is aggressive or whether active surveillance is the best treatment option. In light of this, I believe the following four organizations need to update their prostate cancer screening recommendations and come out in favor of testing for prostate cancer at age 40. Age 30 if prostate cancer runs in the family or if you are a black male.

Here's the list of organizations that are against early prostate cancer screening and detection:

1. The American Urological Association (AUA), the leading organization representing urologists, is recommending more moderate use of prostate cancer screening tests.The AUA recommends that men ages 55 to 69 discuss the benefits and harms of prostate cancer screening with their doctors before deciding whether to be screened. It recommends against screening for men younger than 55 who are at average risk, as well as for men 70 and older.

2. The American College of Physicians (ACP) released a similar guidance statement in April. The ACP says men between the ages of 50 and 69 should discuss the limited benefits and substantial harms of the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test with their doctor before undergoing screening for prostate cancer. The guideline says only men between the ages of 50 and 69 who express a clear preference for screening should have the PSA test.

3. The American Cancer Society recommends that men discuss the possible risks and benefits of prostate cancer screening with their doctor before deciding whether to be screened. The discussion about screening should take place starting at age 50 for men who are at average risk of prostate cancer and expect to live at least 10 more years. It should take place at age 45 for men who are at higher risk, including African-American men and men who have a father or brother diagnosed with prostate cancer, and at age 40 for men at even higher risk.

4. The United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) has issued new recommendations against prostate cancer screening. The USPSTF now recommends that regardless of age, men without symptoms should not routinely have the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test to screen for prostate cancer.

I call upon all four of these organizations to change their prostate cancer screening recommendations and I urge men NOT to follow them. Get tested, even if your physician tells you it's unnecessary. It's your life not theirs.
Rick Redner and his wife Brenda are the authors of an awarding winning book written to help men and couples cope with life without a prostate. I Left My Prostate in San Francisco-Where’s Yours? Coping With The Emotional, Relational, Spiritual & Sexual Aspects of Prostate Cancer can  be previewed and purchased at