This post continues my documentation of how one man is dealing with an enlarged prostate. In my case, I am very active and in the midst of my Nordic Ski racing season. Suddenly being faced with an enlarged prostate which requires surgery was not part of my original training schedule. Today's post will focus more on some of medical issues one must face. As noted in my first post (read for background), we men don't tend to be very good about discussing medical issues, let alone our prostates ... a very personal part of our body.
One final comment before getting to the heart of this post, I will use "soft language" to describe certain parts of the body. While not a prude, I do not want the automatic search engine spiders to pick up on certain words / body parts and make the mistaken assumption that this web content should be blocked (i.e. not family friendly). Now on to the medical part of this entry ...
On Tuesday I had a renal ultrasound, which thankfully confirmed I did NOT have any kidney damage resulting from my episode last week. When your enlarged prostate blocks normal urine flow, things back up into your bladder. If you bladder becomes full, your kidneys act as an overflow outlet. You will have some indication that you are experiencing the same problem if in addition to pain in your lower left abdomen, you also experience pain in your lower back ... essentially the location of your kidneys. Get to a doctor immediately if this happens to you. Don't wait. While your kidneys normal function is to eliminate waste from your body, a backflow is dangerous, and over a period of time your kidneys might be damaged. While an enlarged prostate can be taken care of via various medical treatments, damaged kidneys are another matter. Get help!
Yesterday, I saw my urologist for the second time. It had been one week since my first visit. As you would expect, wearing a catheter for 8 days was not fun. My ego and pride, which should NOT be an issue with this problem, were hurt. This emotion was dumb on my part. The first part of my doctor's appointment was a general consultation outlining what would be our plan for the next two hours. However, both my doctor and nurse were thrilled I had raced over the weekend in a cross-country ski race, and complemented me on how I adjusted to the catheter (i.e. an initial ski earlier in the week when I tested how to keep my tubes and bag in their proper place, followed by a trip to the pharmacy to get some self adhesive ace bandages to keep everything on the inside of my leg).
Now came the medical procedures, which were not pleasant. After your "private parts" are numbed up on the inside, your urologist will use a fancy scope that allows your doctor to see inside your urethra. In my case, the blockage was obvious. The second part of the examination was to fill my bladder with fluid and determine if I could successfully void the liquid out of my system. This was painful, but necessary. The same scope the doctor uses to look inside you, has intakes that allow sterile solution to be slowly forced into your bladder via a syringe.
Once this is done, and things are pulled out, I was left on my own for five minutes and given the chance to try and void the liquid. In my case, only about 1/3 of the liquid came out. While I could understand this intellectually, it became much more obvious and dramatic later in the examination. The key point was I needed surgery to increase the size of my urinary tract. I will be undergoing Green Laser surgery in one week. This surgery is less invasive than what men had to experience in the past, and does not involve any incision.
Previously I mentioned that I understood intellectually that I was not able to pass all the fluid injected into my body, but as with everything ... a picture is worth a thousand words. Thankfully, I will not have a catheter for the next week leading up to my surgery. However, the dangerous blockage which landed me in the emergency room can not be repeated. Thus, I was taught to self catheterize myself. This procedure is surprisingly easy and quick. One is given a three foot long very narrow tube upon which one puts lubricating jelly. Very slowly one inserts the tube into one's private parts and pushes it deeper into your body ... past my prostate where I could actually feel the resistance / blockage. What was amazing, once the catheter reached my bladder, whoosh! Urine came out with a rush. All of this fluid was blocked and would have eventually backed up into my kidneys resulting in the same dangerous event and pain. Within a few minutes I completed the procedure and withdrew the catheter. Hopefully, this is a process I will only have to perform once per day. That is the expectation. I am also on some medication which helps me pass urine more easily.
The final part of my examination was the consultation. I invited my wife into the doctor's office, and we all discussed my enlarged prostate, and what is involved with green laser surgery. If you have a wife or significant other, I very much recommend making that person part of the decision. It just makes everything easier if the medical treatment and risks are understood by everyone before your operation.
Tomorrow it's off to ski the Birkebeiner which is America's longest cross-country ski marathon. I will be sking in the 54 kilometer classic race, which is about 33.5 miles. Between the various races, there will be 10,000 racers competing. Over the past seven days I've kept up my training, and even competed in the Book Across the Bay race. Thankfully, for tomorrow's race I will be NOT wearing a catheter. However, over the past week I learned how to adjust. If you are an athelete, here are some practical recommendations for competing with a catheter:
- First ... you CAN compete!
- Second ... you don't need a last minute trip to the bathroom! :-)
- Third ... don't wear underwear or a supporter ... better to let your tube swing more freely
- Fourth ... immobolize your tube on the inside of your leg
- Use self adhesive ace athletic bandages with some athletic tape
- By keeping everything on the inside of your leg, you can't fall on anything and cause problems ... it's physically impossible unless you somehow are able to turn your legs inside out!
- Fifth ... get some neosporin antibiotic ointment. Put this on the tip of your private part. In addition to helping you resist infection, it helps with chafing. It's worth using this ointment all the time ... not just while competing.
Here are three photos from last Saturday's race. One competes at night while skiing across the frozen ice of Lake Superior. Luminaria light the trail every 50 meters, with bonfires each kilometer. Molly and I actually skied the course backwards arriving at the start just 10 minutes before the start. Given the temperature was only 3F, this timing was perfect. Before we knew it the sun had set, and the race was on and we were heading back across Chequamegon Bay.
Posts in this series:
- Postate Problems and Nordic Skiing (trip by ambulance to the emergency room)
- Prostate Problems and Nordic Ski Racing: Part 2 (this post)
- Post Op: 2 Days After Surgery (surgery ends up a bit more severe than expected)
- Post Op: 1 Week Later - Nordic Skiing! (amazing recovery)
- Post Op: 4 Weeks Later - Cycling!
Photos: Skiing Over Before the Race!
(click to maximize any image and view at full size)
Using my GoPro at the start and just afterwords ...
Yours truly at the start of Book Across the Bay. I'm the second classic skier ... wearing the partial yellow jacket. My thanks to photographer Kelly Randolph who took this image and was gracious enough to give me a copy.