Thursday, November 27, 2014

Why Live With Erectile Dysfunction After Your Prostatectomy??

Almost 4 years ago I was diagnosed with prostate cancer. After much thought, research and prayers my wife and I agreed that robotic surgery was the best way to treat my cancer. I was referred to UCSF. My surgeon was in the top of the field of physicians who perform robotic surgery. Both before and after my double nerve sparing surgery I was assured I'd regain my sexual functioning.
I didn't know how long that would take until I listened to the following video by ,Dr Mulhall on Penile Rehab. This is a video every man considering prostate surgery should watch.

I wanted to do everything possible to insure nerve bundle healing. Therefore,  I used ED meds before and after surgery. After surgery,  I used the vacuum pump and later performed penile injections until the medication stopped working. At the end of two years,  my success with obtaining erections hovered around 50-60% so we had reason to hope my response rate would improve. . I continued using ED medication for another 1.5 years with my success rate dropping slowly over time. Soon my success rate with ED medication dropped to less than 1%.  I saw no point in using medication that wasn't working so we went for another consult at UCSF.

My Specialist told me the period for healing was over and what I'd left is where I'd landed post surgery. He did have two plans with regard to dosage and frequency of taking ED medication which might improve my success rate. I tried plan A first hoping it would work. After 3 unsuccessful months we went  back to try plan B. Once again after 3 unsuccessful months Plan B hadn't worked either.

After 3.5 years post-surgery it became very clear to us that our hopes to regain my erectile functioning were dashed. My relationship with myself and my wife suffered greatly during this period of time. I went though many months of severe depression as I thought I'd lost my manhood. At the time, my  manhood was narrowly defined as my erectile abilities. I shut my wife out physically and emotionally. Kissing, hugging, holding hands, back rubs, all affectionate  physical contact stopped. I wanted no reminders of what I'd lost. I became too depressed to care about my wife's reaction to all that she lost during much of this time.

It took a great deal of time, effort and intentionality to begin the process of working my way back to Brenda both emotionally and physically. My depression lifted as I grieved my losses and began to accept life, relational living and sex without a prostate, we began to make the best of the transition from impotence to healing. Now I was faced with the a new reality, there'd be no healing.

I felt like a man on trial. I was found guilty and my sentence was more than I could bare-I'd spend the rest of my life impotent.  After all the time and effort with penile rehab, my hopes for recovery were dashed. Once again I felt myself sinking into despair, hopelessness and depression. When I went for surgery, I didn't sign up for a life time of impotence. I was also frustrated and angry that all the time and effort we'd put in to penile rehab failed to bring about the expected healing we both wanted.

While Brenda was in Vermont visiting our oldest son, the idea of a penile implant came to me. From my perspective that idea was a gift from the Lord. After doing research, and contacting men on-line who had an implant, I decided I wanted to go that route. Once again we drove to UCSF and met with our Specialist. He agreed I was an excellent candidate for an implant. We discussed the various types. I decided on the 3 piece implant. Now we are waiting for my insurance to approve this procedure. Once that comes in, I'm planning to have the surgery in the second week of January 2015.

I'm no longer angry about the failed time and effort we put into penile rehab. I have a certain peace knowing I've landed where I did doing everything possible, rather then landing here because I was ignorant about the concept of penile rehab. I fought the good fight. I didn't land where we'd hoped and expected I would, BUT we are blessed to live in an era and in a country where penile implants are an option.

I know many men who are so angry and bitter about their impotence, their attitude is "I won't let another surgeon come within a mile of me." I certainly understand why they feel that way, yet  their attitude sentences them to a lifetime of impotence, anger and bitterness. I hope all men struggling with impotence will consider this option. I'll be posting more about implants after my surgery.
If you'd like more information about this procedure check out this link:
Treating ED with Implants

Rick Redner
Author of:
I Left My Prostate in San Francisco-Where's Yours?