Christchurch, New Zealand
It all started from a simple bike mishap – coming down some steps on a mountain bike, losing my footing and landing awkwardly on the cross bar and damaging my groin area a little at the time. It didn’t seem much.
However, strange internal dull pains started that evening – I noticed when seated down – I was worried about this light pain as it was a little disconcerting and was worried that some damage had occurred in the groin area.
These symptoms continued on and off for several weeks before I finally made my first visit to the GP. The doctor quickly diagnosed me with prostatitis. He quoted as saying “it’s just a little bit of prostatitis, nothing to worry about.” At that point I was relieved.
However, I went back to the GP a few more times before I was referred to a urologist for further investigation. On my first visit to one of the two urologists, I was put onto a raft of medications: alpha-blockers, anti-Inflammatory, antibiotics. I did manage to get a government subsidy for Proscar (finasteride) and this did actually help a little but was only for relief of the swelling of the prostate gland (it actually shrinks the gland).
I did find Proscar to be helpful for the prostate but it was not a cure and I still did get flare ups while taking this particular medication. In hind sight, I would recommend that this medication be taken as when needed for nasty flare ups of prostatitis, not constantly like prescribed as it’s really for other conditions, e.g. hair loss. Proscar took approximately 48 hrs to start to kick in – would have helped me better in conjunction with the flare ups.
Prostatitis is weird in some ways, because a full flare up would still take up to about 48 hours approx – I’m sure that the trigger happened way before I noticed.
I am now aware of the official term of my condition, it was classified as: abacterial prostatitis (non bacterial prostatitis. And these are just some of the common symptoms I had to put up with on various occasions over the years of my prostatitis:
Sharp distant pains that come in and out from the bladder area. But the bladder is Ok. These can range from mild to an uncomfortable type of inflammation or burning.
Feeling tight and bloated in the pelvic area
Can only sit on soft padded seats when prostatitis flare ups are bad.
Constantly having to go to the bathroom especially at night. This eases off as the prostatitis flare up dissipates.
The feeling as if I have a hot burning ball up my backside when the prostatitis has hung around for more than a week or two.
Bleeding from the backside burning coming from my rectum – ‘hemorrhoids’ and is pushing all the other internals out wood hence the bleeding from the backside (its pressure).
After half a dozen or so visits to urologists and medical procedures and tests, I quickly came to the conclusion that it was pointless making any more appointments regarding this condition.
I did arrange to make sure I had the necessary medications on hand including standard over-the- counter pain medications like Panadine.
I’m glad I didn’t waste to much time and money on travelling down to many garden paths because, after reading a lot of how people were suffering from prostatitis, I quickly decided that it was time to take stock and cut to the chase.
This all come about as in September 2008 when I found there was such a thing as prostate removal for prostatitis from my own persistent searching. I decided that it was necessary for me to allow at least a full year to ascertain whether I could go for this operation or whether I could truly live with it. However, after careful and prolonged consideration, I decided to arrange plans for a trip to the United States for the surgery.
Main reasons for going ahead with this included:
I had a lot of leave owing from work.
My employer being a local government council it is easier to get the leave.
My employer was very supportive of my condition.
I was in a position to arrange funding.
My wife approved and was understanding.
Of course there was the condition itself - I knew it was never going to go away.
I wanted to be able to be free of the ongoing discomforts.
I wanted to be free to drink coffee and certain Chinese meals.
I wanted to be free to engage spontaneously in sexual activity, instead having to mark a calendar.
So I made contact via Skype and after a good long consult I now knew what my options were for the surgery. I decided to go within a few months from there. Arranging I found overall the whole trip was a lot cheaper than I first calculated out so I was very happy and arranged a time.
In the US there a lots of different types of medical packages available – I found Manny Mobile, which saved me several thousand US dollars. I was even more happy on discovering this which allowed me to relax more about the whole trip over to the US - talk to Ruth about this option for more detail and also see this Facebook link.
Medical clearance was completed and passed as ready for the operation. My trip to the States has now begun. Upon arriving in Miami – a limousine pulled up just where I was waiting outside and I was taken straight to the sea-side hotel where I stayed.
As for accommodation, make sure you give yourself a nice motel with a view if possible. Why? Because you could be spending a lot of your time there. After the operation you have a catheter, so it’s nice to relax and see what’s happening from the patio. I had one over the ocean.
The catheter is a important part of the healing process and is not really painful, just a little uncomfortable at times, so a little bit of walking every day to keep the blood flow good but also lots of relaxing.
Thinking about going home straight after the operation – if it’s a long haul flight half-way around the world as for me 13 hours continuous – to have a catheter still inserted on the flight, I would highly ‘not’ recommend. I recommend that you stay for the duration of the catheter stage till removal (10 days) in Miami.
The operation was in December, 2009. It started at 7:30am. At 10:30 am, when I come to wake thinking that this was all a dream but it was real – Incredibly I felt absolutely no pain at all down there as I was looking for it to confirm that this indeed was real.
One of surgeons confirmed with me as I started to wake that I had just come out from a major operation with Dr. Krongrad, one of the best surgeons in the world and that the operation was a 100% success.
Instant good news straight away – I kept trying to see if I could feel the prostatitis but there was just nothing there! I really noticed that the bloated, tight feeling was gone. The area felt relaxed - Free.
Later that day, Dr. Krongrad helped me take a few steps around several hours after the operation – A little weak and just a little sore now as the anaesthetic started to ware off – However there was never any further pain from the operation.
The only medication I took was Tylenol.
The only real discomfort I felt was from the catheter. However, it was manageable so long as you were generally relaxed.
I stayed that night in hospital, which was a nice hospital with a friendly and nice crew of people running the place, a classic type private hospital with that nice local and friendliness atmosphere. There were people from all around the Americas and from different races and nationalities – a very welcoming environment.
I was taken back to my motel in a limo and felt good enough to take a short walk to Walgreen’s local convenience store all-in-one-stop small supermarket. Got some food and drinks to take back to my motel.
Walking the short distance to the store was not to difficult but slow going – you cannot walk fast or take big strides as the catheter tends to pull a little plus important to take it easy as you are still healing from the operation.
What did I do most of the time? In my motel room much of the time on a laptop computer uploading photos, Facebook, surfing the net – Also I was outside down on the concourse overlooking the beach and the sundeck area – It was very nice outside just taking it easy I was often outside just classic all out relaxing.
As the days went by, I started to improve rapidly – could move around more freely, found I was noticeably starting to feel good all around – I wasn’t aware just how much the prostatitis must have sort of affected my health.
I had the catheter removed after 10 days. Be prepared for the feeling of no control at first – I was well and truly expecting this –however – it was great to have the catheter removed– you have to wear thick pads at first but this all changes over the coming months as you get better.
I was in my motel room for approximately 14 days in total before leaving back towards San Francisco – what a beautiful city - was walking around the CBD and looking in the town shopping centre near Union Square – jumped on a Tram here and there this was all just 14 days after the operation.
Finally after just a short day stop in San Francisco – I headed back on a very fast Metro Train (BART) to the International Airport to catch my long flight back to New Zealand.
So during my recovery and after right up till now, – exactly 2 years to the day since my operation:
The prostatitis has completely gone – was instantly gone straight after the operation.
I started quickly gaining control of the bladder function literally two weeks after I returned home I was starting to notice a sharp rapid recovery with my continence.
6 months after the operation I could get away with slightly thinner pads – erectile function just starting to get going.
One year after the operation – now only have to take very thin small pads more for catching slight leakage from coughing or sneezing and tiredness at the days end or evening.
18 months after the operation – now I don’t wear pads any more – I do carry some and leave some in my work bag –mainly for if I go out drinking beer – just in case.
18 months suddenly from what I would call a very slow but progressive regain of my erectile function – this has now started to reach new levels – Very good news.
2 years after the operation – There is absolutely no prostatitis – no leaking hardly at all – maybe the odd dribble after a big sneeze – reminds you to tighten up you pelvic floor muscle first.
2 years after the operation – erectile function’s about 95 % of where I was before – sexual activity with my partner is achievable.
2 years after the operation – I have made huge approvements now and still improving as I speak I still feel that I’m on the improve all the time – will fully recover this year – patience is the key.
So this is where I am now after two years – I feel so much better overall – absolutely no prostatitis – This has 100% completely gone – was the case right back after surgery.
The other thing here is: I have “not” yet tried any tablets to help with the erectile function, e.g. Viagra – Have wanted to see how I go naturally – I do intend to give these tablets a go also.
The last thing I should mention is that while I was in Miami a received a telephone call from Dr Krongrad – a routine pathology report had concluded that cancer was discovered in my prostate gland and even more chilling it was 2 tumors.
I was very relieved and realized that the operation potentially saved my life – there is a high rate of deaths in our family caused by cancer.
When I got back and was talking to people about this story, a friend of mine who also has a friend who works for a magazine organized a date for me to tell the magazine my story. A time was arranged and I basically told my story in regards to how I ended up travelling around the world to have prostate surgery when the question was being asked - why was this not picked up here – It coincided with Prostate Cancer Awareness Week here in New Zealand.
A big Thank You to all the staff of the Krongrad Institute in particular the following: Dr Arnon Krongrad, Ruth, and Hope. Thanks to Dr Arnon Krongrad for his professionalism – in my opinion the most experienced laparoscopic surgeon in the world. Thanks also to Ruth and Hope for all their hard work in organizing everything and there continued smiles and the very friendly welcome I received in Miami.