Thanks to you both for this post. I had many of the same outcomes as you did but had forgotten about all the details until you brought them back to mind with all the great details. I thought you hit the nail on the head when you spoke about uninary control being the most important. I couldn't see myself wearing Depends the rest of my life and my urologist said that it takes time for the body to heal and re-learn to shut off the flow of urine. So, that was my main concern and definitely my main focus. It was interesting to know that you should not do the kegel exercises except when urinating. I did not know that! I know my urologist explained how to do these exercises but I don't think he ever said to just do them when urinating.
I had a truly wonderful urologist. I knew I liked him when he said he would call me with the biopsy results by Thursday or Friday, after my Monday biopsy and he called me early on Tuesday afternoon. He told me over the phone that I had cancer...EXACTLY the way I wanted to hear the news! I didn't want anything sugar-coated and I was not disappointed. I couldn't believe that I had cancer though, since I was only 50 years old! I made the followup appointment to discuss all this 'news' the following week. He explained everything in great detail, what my choices for treatment were and expected outcomes. I had read a LOT of information before the appointment and had three pages (typed and single-spaced) of questions for him. He did such a good job at explaining everything that, by the time he was finished explaining everything, I had only two questions that needed to be addressed. I was pretty sure that my choice would be to have a radical prostatectomy but I wanted to hear all the information.
After he was finished explaining everything, I asked him 'if you were me, what would you do?'. I was expecting him not to answer this question or to side-step it. But he didn't! I remember his exact words 'If I were you, without a doubt, I would have it taken out'. I made up my mind right then and told him 'ok, let's do it then'.
The plan was to do a radical retropubic (with the big incision from the navel down to the pubic bone). One of the options he gave me was robotic surgery but said that if I wanted to have that he would send me out-of-state since no one here had the expertise needed yet, since it was a relatively new technique here. I wanted him to do it so I said that whatever way he was comfortable with, that was how I wanted it done. Four days before the surgery he called me at home and told me that he had studied my case in depth and had gotten with the surgeon that had done a hernia repair surgery a few years earlier and had had more experience at the robotic surgery. He said that I would make an excellent candidate for robotic surgery and offered that option. That would mean rescheduling the surgery and another month of waiting but I thought about it and called him back and told him that is the way I wanted to go. The worst part was another month of waiting but he assured me that the cancer is slow-growing so that wouldn't be a problem. That was a relief but I continued thinking about that and wondered if the cancer would spread in that additional month...it didn't, just like he said. The worst part was the wait and the constant thoughts of the cancer. It was my first thought when I woke in the morning, my last thought before I went to sleep and every thought when I woke in the middle of the night.
The time for the surgery came and I was ready, ready to have the cancer gone! I checked into the hospital and when they wheeled me to the operating room I asked to see the 'robot'. They wheeled me in and let me look at it...it was huge and impressive. Then they lifted me up onto the operating table. There was a 'pad' of a gel-type material that they put me on...it was FREEZING. Then they put some warm blankets on me and the next thing I knew, I was in the recovery room. The surgery went well and although I didn't feel great, I felt much better than I thought I would. That was on Friday. By Sunday afternoon I went home.
I had the catheter in for less than a week and was glad to get it out but scared that it would be painful to have taken out...it WASN'T. I returned for a followup appt the next week and then another followup appt a couple weeks later. Of course I had another couple pages of questions and he answered most of those before I had the chance to ask them. I did ask him what number I was for him, using the robotic sugery. He looked down and smiled and then looked back up and held up three fingers! I was #3! I loved it! I thought about asking him about how much experience he had with the robotic surgery prior to making the choice to have the surgery done that way but thought if it had only been a few, I wouldn't have chosen that technique. I laughed and laughed when he told me that I was #3 and said 'that's GREAT!'. It was perfect for me!
The incontinence problem was my main concern at this point and woas worried that I would always have the problem but in a few weeks it was virtually gone with the exception of occasional leakage when standing from a sitting position or maybe just walking...just a few drops. That eventually stopped. I have had no problems in months now...it has been 8 months since my surgery.
Now on to the erection challenge. Soon after the surgery, my urologist had me try Cialis and Levitra. Cialis was terrible for me. It gave me a two-day headache and terrible leg aches that lasted for two days. The dr had me change to Levitra. It gave me a flushed face and a headache. Neither one produced an erection though. I went in for another appt and the urologist said that it was time to try injections...I cringed! I asked if I could wait another couple of months to try that and he said no. 'Use it or loose it' he said. He got the shot ready and I asked if it was going to hurt. He said 'No,...............it won't hurt ME at all!' and smiled and assured me that there would be very little discomfort. I had trusted him up to this point and he didn't disappoint me here either. He said he'd return in about 10 minutes to check on the erection. I thought I would be embarassed but I wasn't and neither was he. He checked me out and sent me on my way. I returned in a few weeks and repeated the process, with a decrease to the amount of medicine that he injected. We've all seen the comercials about erections lasting more than four hours...he said three hours and needed to reduce my medication so that I wouldn't exceed this time. ON my next appt, he demonstrated and had me give myself my first injection. It was difficult (mentally) to stick myself in the penis with a needle but I DID IT! and it wasn't as hard as I had thought it would be.
Several months have passed since all that has occurred, along with two followup PSA tests, 0.01 and 0.00. That was the best news esp after having an initial PSA of 8.66, with absolutely NO symptoms of cancer with that high PSA . I have decided that I would give the vacuum pump a shot since the shots aren't really a 'natural' erection and kind of ache. I want to try the vacuum to see if that works better for me. If it doesn't, I'm sure I will return to injections or may do both...time will tell.
Thanks for listening. Remember, the most important thing is that the cancer is gone. Things will change but doesn't everything! We get older and things don't work as well as when we were younger. But that is all part of life, a life that we get to live to a fuller extent now that the cancer is gone! One thing I did learn was that a LOT of men have prostate cancer. No one talked about it until I made my news public...I told EVERYONE and then they came out of the woodwork. Everyone has there own story but in sharing those stories, we are not alone and realize that we are lucky to be alive and well. Hang in there!