Suffer-To experience a physical and/or emotionally unpleasant experience such as a loss, injury, illness, accident defeat or setback.
Many men experience unpleasant side effects and loss following prostate surgery. Here's a list of some of those changes and loss:
1. The loss of Urinary control
2. The need to wear diapers or pads for an extended period of time
3. Climacturia- Leaking urine before, during or after climax
4. The loss of ejaculation
5. The loss of spontaneous erections
6. The loss of libido (sexual desire)
7. Either total or partial loss of erectile abilities
8. The loss of confidence in bed
9. The reduction of intensity of orgasms
10. A reduction in the size of the penis
Very few men will suffer all ten of these unpleasant side effects of living without a prostate. Experiencing one of these ten changes is unpleasant, involves suffering, and can lead to depression and/or have a negative effect on a relationship. Most men and couples deal with two or more of these losses.
Why is it men and couples choose to struggle alone even though the level of suffering is high?
1. Men are less likely to share their struggles than women are, so men are more likely to choose to suffer alone.
2. Embarrassment-The losses following surgery involve subjects that are not usually shared with others. Talking about losing urinary control, erectile functioning, the loss of desire, or intensity of orgasms are not part of the daily discourse among friends or family. There are many couples who find it difficult to talk with their partners about these issues. Therefore it's highly unlikely both partners will agree to seek out professional help.
3. Shame-is different from embarrassment. Shame involves feeling hopelessly defective in such a way that requires you to hide and keep these defects hidden. A man might feel ashamed of losing his erectile functioning and woman may experience shame that she's lost the ability to arouse her husband. There are many issues where shame could make an appearance. The natural reaction to shame is to hide.
4. Receiving unhelpful responses-Men or women may shut down and refuse to talk to anyone else after one bad experience sharing an intimate experience. I'll never forget being told "You have nothing to be depressed about, you were cured of cancer." I stopped talking about my post-surgery depression with healthy people after receiving that response. There are very few people who know how to respond in helpful ways to the kinds of suffering prostate cancer brings to a men and his partner.
5. It's difficult to find and/or afford competent help-Often the issues that are involved requires a team approach between experts in mental health to deal with depression, and/or relational issues. Then there is a need for expertise in penile rehabilitation, erectile dysfunction, and sexuality. There are not that many places where a team approach is available. It's also possible many of those services are not covered by insurance.
6. Cultural Norms-Many men and/or women were brought up to believe there are certain issues that should remain unspoken. It is difficult for anyone to defy strongly held cultural norms.
7. A desire to protect your public persona-Everyone has a public image they want to project and protect. Couples maintain a public persona as well. Sharing how prostate cancer has affected you as individual and you as a partner in a relationship means giving up your individual and couple persona. Many couples prefer to break up and blame their partner rather than give up their public persona.
If you are suffering alone, you are experiencing the unnecessary additional pain of being isolated. I urge you to find a safe place to share your suffering. You can't control and you may not be in a position to influence your partner if they have chosen to suffer alone. However you can control your own behavior. It's time to join the brotherhood or sisterhood of those who are suffering as they adjust to living and loving without a prostate.
If you are ready to join us, visit my website at: Links For Support. There you will find a pre and post surgery forum as well as a host of other places to receive help and support. What are you waiting for?