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