Friday, March 20, 2015

PTSD Drives Men Away From Penile Implants

Even though I've been a Medical Social Worker I had no clue I'd been suffering from PTSD, short for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

How and why would I experience PTSD when I made a choice which would put an end to my suffering with erectile dysfunction? To say I was confused would be the 
understatement of the year.

 Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can affect those who personally experience the catastrophe, those who witness it, and those who pick up the pieces afterwards. Receiving a dx of prostate cancer, coping with the loss of urinary control, & erectile dysfunction are catastrophic changes in the life of a man and in the life of a couple.

What are some of the symptoms?

Symptoms of PTSD: Re-experiencing the traumatic event

  • Intrusive, upsetting memories of the event
  • Flashbacks (acting or feeling like the event is happening again)
  • Nightmares (either of the event or of other frightening things)
  • Feelings of intense distress when reminded of the trauma
  • Intense physical reactions to reminders of the event (e.g. pounding heart, rapid breathing, nausea, muscle tension, sweating)

Symptoms of PTSD: Avoidance and numbing

  • Avoiding activities, places, thoughts, or feelings that remind you of the trauma
  • Inability to remember important aspects of the trauma
  • Loss of interest in activities and life in general
  • Feeling detached from others and emotionally numb
  • Sense of a limited future (you don’t expect to live a normal life span, get married, have a career)

Symptoms of PTSD: Increased anxiety and emotional arousal

  • Difficulty falling or staying asleep
  • Irritability or outbursts of anger
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Hypervigilance (on constant “red alert”)
  • Feeling jumpy and easily startled
After I scheduled myself for implant surgery I began to experience many of these symptoms. Especially trouble sleeping and a high level of anxiety. In  addition, my  wife and I saw a dramatic rise in irritability and fighting. We didn't understand what was happening in our marriage. We saw a counselor who confirmed both of us were suffering from PTSD. 

That took me by surprise. I was expecting to be restored by surgery, It was a choice I made and I was expecting a positive outcome. I didn't understand why these circumstances would bring about symptoms of PTSD. 

For the last four years, there's only one thing that brought my wife and I into San Francisco, Every trip involved something to do with the diagnosis and treatment of prostate cancer. Pre surgery & post surgery visits as well as my unsuccessful penile rehab all took place in the city San Francisco. Receiving the news I'd be impotent for the rest of my life also took place in San Francisco.
Even though I was cured from cancer in San Francisco, my life was unalterably changed for the worst in that city as well. Now I was returning to UCSF in San Francisco once again, hoping for a positive life changing experience. 

Our minds were locked into all the negative life changing events that happened as a result of our visits to San Francisco. Although we wanted to feel positive about the reasons why we were returning to San Francisco once again, we got stuck re-living the trauma of all that happened there during the last four years. 

For many men it's not the return to a city that triggers PTSD, it's a return to ANY surgeon that triggers PTSD. That's the reason why I hear the following comments when I discuss the amazing restoration brought about by the implant procedure. Here's a sample of those comments:

"I"ll never go within a mile of another surgeon."
"There's no way I'll have another surgery." 
"I won't let a surgeon touch me ever again."

The comments above are all  expressions of  a powerful desire to avoid any further surgery that's now associated with the devastating effects of  erectile dysfunction. This avoidance that comes from PTSD is powerful and resistant to any form surgical treatment no matter how successful.

It's often worse for the men who've had double nerve sparing surgery, yet  failed to re-gain their erectile dysfunction, In this situation issues of trust are involved. Many men with double nerve sparing surgery believe they've been lied to or betrayed, As a result, they've made a life long decision they'll never  trust a surgeon again. That decision effectively sentences a man to a life time of misery coping with erectile dysfunction.

My point here is this, while penile implant surgery isn't for everyone, it's important to make this life altering decision based on the merits and risks involved in surgery rather than have the power of  fear, the loss of trust,or avoidance that comes from PSTD make your decision for you. All too frequently, the  resistance to penile implant surgery comes from PTSD, fear, or the lack of trust, rather than an objective analysis of whether this surgery could benefit you.

Penile Implant surgery has the highest success rate in treating ED. There's no other treatment of ED that has a higher user and partner satisfaction rate. I can say from personal experience that my implant restored what prostate cancer and surgery took away from me.

So don't let PTSD,  fear, or the lack of knowledge determine your choice whether or not have implant surgery. Base your decision on the facts about penile implants. Here's a link to provide you with some of those facts. I hope you'll read it.
Treating ED With A Penile Implant

That's my view, what's yours?

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? can  be previewed and purchased at