Sunday 23 Oct 2016

Male Plumbing
Matt Seinberg

About two years ago, I got a formal diagnosis of Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH). It’s an enlarged prostate gland, which many men over the age of fifty get. The symptoms are an encyclopedia what makes us miserable. It’s the male equivalent of female menopause.

Symptoms include having to urinate frequently, strong urge to go, flow starts and stops, incomplete emptying of the bladder, weak stream, and my personal favourite, waking up to go many times during the night.

The effect on my quality of life was severe. If I went to sleep at 11:30 pm, I was up between one and two am, four and five am and, possibly, again at 6:30 am. That really was bad if I had to get up at 7 am. Even though I was half asleep when I got up to hit the head, it was sometimes difficult to fall back asleep. Often, I was exhausted the next day from sleeping so poorly.

I finally asked my primary care physician, Dr Robert for a referral to an urologist, and he sent me to Dr Michael, in Garden City. It was a large practice, but I could only see this physician on Tuesdays. His first appointment wasn’t until 1 pm, so I always tried to get this.

I never got in on time. The last time I went, I finally got in at 3 pm and called him out on the wait. He slammed the clipboard down, muttered something under his breath and walked away. When I checked out, I told the entire front office that because of his behaviour, I wouldn’t be back.

I told a co-worker what happened. He recommended his doctor in Amityville, Dr Marc. I called and made an appointment for two months away. The day of the appointment, I arrived, a little earl, as I always do, to get any paperwork out of the way. I had to wait a little bit, but at least they were nice in this office.

Dr Marc was a very nice fellow. We got along right away. I didn’t realize Dr Marc had a working relationship with Dr Michael. The only good thing about that was he had access to my past visits and tests.

There are a number of prescription medications to treat BPH, with many being in the category of Alpha Blockers. The first one I used was Rapaflo. While it helped, it didn’t help a lot. When I saw Dr Marc, he changed me over to Uroxatral, which was a strong medication. I used that for about three months and, while it helped, it wasn’t relieving all my symptoms.

The final medication Dr. Marc put me on was Flomax. After a week, I noticed a difference in everything except the getting up at night, which was the worst part of BPH for me. I had to do something to relieve these symptoms and surgery was the next step.

Have you noticed how the names of these medications match the problem? Rapaflo has “rapid” in it; Uroxatral has “urinate” in it and Flomax implies maximum flow. How much money did these drug companies spend to come up with these names.

Since Dr Marc isn’t a surgeon, he referred me to Dr Al, in Plainview. I made an appointment for the following week and started on the next step in my journey toward a good sleep at night

Dr Al explained that he used a Plasma Button Vaporization (PBV) technique that was minimally invasive and gave the best results. PlasmaButton™ Vaporization allows for virtually bloodless tissue ablation for patients with benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) or enlarged prostate. In contrast to other standard energy treatments that operate with high temperature, PlasmaButton Vaporization uses low temperature plasma energy to remove, safely, the enlarged prostate tissue while minimizing damage to surrounding healthy tissue.

During the procedure, the surgeon uses a unique hovering technique so there is little direct contact between the PlasmaButton electrode and tissue. The advanced PlasmaButton technology not only vaporizes the enlarged tissue, but also coagulates the remaining healthy tissue, leaving behind a smooth surface.

Side effects following bipolar Transurethral Vaporization of the Prostate (TUVP) or Plasma Vaporization Therapy can vary by individual and include temporary cramping, frequent and urgent need to urinate, burning sensation and blood in urine.

That’s what I had to look forward to, but since I was at the end of my proverbial rope, I didn’t have a choice. I picked Monday, 2 December as the surgery date. I took the entire week off from work to have a good recovery time.

I had to fast the night before and wear comfortable clothes. Marcy and I got to the hospital at 7:30 am, with the surgery starting at 9 am. This gave everyone plenty of time to get ready, poke, prod and ask many questions.

My favourite doctor, the anesthesiologist arrived around 8:45 am and started the Propopol. Since I’ve had this before, I knew what to expect. I was out so fast I didn’t even know they were moving me to the OR.

An hour later, I’m in the recovery room and not feeling very comfortable. I look down to see a catheter tube attached to my privates, running to a bag filling up with orange urine. I don’t panic; they told me this would likely happen.

Dr Al comes in and tells me the operation was a success. He told what to expect over the next three days. There might be some nausea, blood in the urine, sloughed skin in the urine, a burning feeling during urination and general soreness for four-to-six weeks.

He tells me to drink plenty of water, while I have the catheter and to see him on Wednesday at his office for its removal. As soon as we get home, I have Marcy call and make the soonest appointment possible for Wednesday, at 1:30 pm.

I had two prescriptions, one for Cipro, which is an antibiotic, and Percocet, which has oxycodone and Tylenol. Yeah, I’d be feeling fine very soon. He had also given me Avodart, another BPH medication to help reduce swelling and bleeding after surgery.

I didn’t sleep very well that first night. I’m a side sleeper and, with that tube taped to my left thigh instead of my right, it was hard to get comfortable. The next night I took a sleeping pill and had no problems.

After I had the tube removed, I had to take a flow test. The nurse put in about 250 ccs of water and I expelled about 225 ccs of it. It hurt like hell to do it, but I got it done.

I crawled back into bed when I got home and relaxed. I didn’t have the strength to do anything else. I did some errands on Thursday and Friday. I went back to work Saturday.

I still felt a little sore, and a little tired. I have a follow up appointment with Dr Al in about six weeks, and I’m hoping by then all the swelling will have gone down, the burning sensation is gone. I’ll be able to sleep through the night.

If any of this sounds like something you are going through, go see your doctor. This journey lasted me 2 years, so take my advice and go see your doctor. I hope your journey won’t last as long.

Matt Seinberg lives on Long Island, a few minutes east of New York City. He looks at everything around him and notices much. Somewhat less cynical than dyed in the wool New Yorkers, Seinberg believes those who don't see what he does like reading about what he sees and what it means to him. Seinberg columns revel in the silly little things of life and laughter as well as much well-directed anger at inept, foolish public officials. Mostly, Seinberg writes for those who laugh easily at their own foibles as well as those of others.

More by Matt Seinberg:
Tell a Friend

Click above to tell a friend about this article.

Please report typos or corrections
to the editor