Ahh, the joys of aging.
If you are a man, you will know what I am talking about.
You suddenly discover a 2 inch hair growing out of your nose. Where did that come from? It wasn’t there yesterday! Oh and that eyebrow hair that is wrapped around your glasses? That happened overnight. How does that even happen?
Ear hair – good lord! I need a separate hair removal product just for my ears alone.
Hair grows in your extremities, while at the same time you begin to lose hair on your head. How is that even possible?
Your belly grows to the size of a watermelon. I can barely see my feet anymore. Though I am luckier than many, in that I have a fast metabolism and am able to keep the beast at bay for the most part.
Some of us men wear a fat belly like it is a badge of honour. Strangely enough, many of us don’t seem to notice our protruding gut is not as attractive to women as we seem to think it is.
This brings me to the prostate. Ladies, you may want to stop reading here. It may be a TMI moment.
Now this is not to minimize in any way, the trials and tribulations that women go through in their lifetime. Goodness knows they share their own difficulties, with having to raise kids and a husband simultaneously. The pain of child birth is legendary. Menopause, night sweats, monthly periods for much of their lives, pap smears. Did I mention raising a husband?
I get it and I sympathize. I really do. But this is my story. Maybe I will write about menopause someday. I have lived through it guys – and it ain’t pretty.
The freaking prostate. Every man’s potential nightmare! The damn thing never stops growing. As it grows, it puts pressure on the urethrae, which slows the flow of urine, which in turn makes you pee more frequently.
Sometimes I get up once in the night – often 2-3 times – periodically up to 5 times. I always wondered why there were so many older guys sitting at Timmies at 6 in the morning. I think they finally give up trying to sleep and look for someone to commiserate with and share their misery.
The prostate is a small, soft organ. On average, it is roughly the size of a walnut or a ping-pong ball. It weighs around 1 ounce (30 grams) and is usually soft and smooth to the touch.
The prostate sits deep in the pelvis, between the penis and the bladder. It is possible to feel the prostate gland by placing a finger into the rectum and pressing toward the front of the body.
Now I don’t recommend you stick your finger up your butt to find this little gem. But I have had more than my share of intimate encounters with both men and women urologists. “just relax” they say!
You try and relax when a total stranger is about to invade your sphincter. Sheesh, no kiss, no date, no nothing!
The urethra, a tube that carries urine and semen out of the body, passes through the prostate. Because the prostate surrounds this tube, prostate problems can affect urine flow.
This organ is one part of male sexual or reproductive anatomy. The other parts include the penis, scrotum, and testes – and let’s be honest – a man’s primitive brain.
My Walnut Shaped Nemisis
My first encounter with this little walnut shaped nightmare was when my doctor asked for some routine bloodwork to be done. PSA numbers came back at 4.4. For many of you men 50 and older, this number is starting to highlight a growing prostate. Generally after you turn 50. The larger the prostate, the higher the number. For reference, my number is now around 10. Everyone is different.
Now, not to minimize this number, as it can reflect other issues, such as cancer. If it is growing too fast, you could be developing serious issues. In my case, this led to a biopsy to be certain there was no cancer invading my little walnut.
In my case, it turns out that I was born with a larger than normal prostate. Lucky me! Though it’s not really something you can brag about guys. “Hey baby, I have a very large prostate”, apparently doesn’t really move the needle. I tried that on my wife and got slapped!
The biopsy itself is a lovely procedure in which the urologist and as many of his colleagues (both male and female) as he can fit in a small examining room, proceed to shove a camera the size of a long lens Nikon up your butt hole.
“Just relax sir, we will lube you up so you will hardly notice”!
As it turned out there was no cancer and 25 years later, there still is not. However, Every 6 months or so, my sphincter gets reacquainted with the middle finger of my urologist – “just to be safe”, he (now she) tells me.
I have tried natural medications like Saw Palmetto, an herb that is recommended to shrink the prostate, allowing you to pee more freely. This worked for a while, however I had an incident several years ago that forced me into using more traditional medications.
I was at our hunt camp with friends, for the September long weekend several years ago. To set the scene, this cottage is water access only. We have to travel by boat a minimum 15 minutes from the nearest launch to our dock. In certain circumstances, if you are a late arrival, you can drive over a single lane, rough gravel road, through the woods about 8 kms, to a cottage across the bay from the camp. From there you can be picked up by boat and delivered to the dock.
This is what occurred that fateful weekend. Karen and I arrived a couple of days after the others.
After a day of fishing with the guys on the back lakes, we relaxed with our spouses on the deck with a few cocktails. Dinner was served, more wine was consumed. We played cards and consumed more wine. You get the picture.
I had recently been having trouble sleeping, so just in case, I took a Nytol before I went to bed. I badly needed a good nights sleep. Unbeknownst to me, Nytol has a diuretic in it. Combined with the alcohol – I soon discovered it was not a good combination.
I got up around 5am, needing to pee. There is no inside bathroom, so I went down the stairs and outside to relieve myself. Nothing but a dribble!
Went back to bed. No sooner got there, than I felt the urge to pee. Down the stairs. Outside. Tried to pee. Just a dribble.
After a couple more attempts, I decided to get up and make coffee. Maybe that would help. I had had something similar happen before, but by the time I got mobile and gravity took over, it seemed to “relieve” itself (see what I did there?). I was sure this would “pass” (I am so clever – sometimes I amuse myself). 😊
This time, it didn’t help. In fact it made it worse.
I had this overwhelming need to pee, but when I tried, I couldn’t. It was getting painful – almost like I might be trying to pass a kidney stone – I had heard how painful those were and now was getting a little concerned.
I tried walking. I tried swishing my belly around. I tried jumping jacks. I tried forcing. Eventually a saw a little blood – but still no pee.
By mid morning, it wasn’t getting better – in fact it was getting much worse. The pain was becoming unbearable.
We all agreed that I should probably find a doctor. The problem is that the nearest doctor was in Parry Sound – an hour and a half away in the best of times.
As fate would have it, these were NOT the best of times.
They took us across the bay, so we could get to our car. By this time, the urge to pee was every 30 seconds or so. I would strain – but no results.
Our friends, in their infinite wisdom, cut the top off a plastic container, so I could pull my pants to my knees and relieve myself if necessary while Karen drove. I was by now in agony. What could possibly go wrong?
Welcome to the Indy 500
Here I am, in the passenger seat, my pants to my knees, my junk in a plastic container with somewhat sharp edges, and a tea towel laying over me for some modicum of modesty. At that point, I didn’t give a crap.
Just get me to a hospital!!
In the several kms driving out the gravel access road, I begged Karen to stop multiple times to pee – but each time I could not.
She was scared. She was sure I was about to have a stroke, as I held onto the handle above the door – straining with everything I had to no avail – veins popping out of my head and neck as I strained for relief.
We made it the 30 kms to 69 highway and headed south – an hour to go. Karen had mysteriously morphed into Mario Andretti. She was scaring the begeezus out of me, with driving skills I did not know she possessed – in fact she seemed possessed herself. Good Lord woman, please don’t kill us! It would be to consummate embarrassment. I could see the headlines.
Man dies in horrific collision, his severed penis pathetically laying limply in the bottom of a plastic container. What the hell were they doing in that car when she lost control?? Police suspect a perverse sexual encounter while driving on the 400 series of highways. Details to follow as investigation continues.
We drove about 30 minutes and promptly into a traffic jam. Bridge construction! Cars were backed up for a couple of kms. GEEZUS!! Just shoot me and put me out of my misery.
Finally getting through this logjam, Mario reappeared. There was not a cop that could have caught us. At one point I told her I am not having a stroke, and I sure as hell don’t want to die in a car accident.
We were flying – only to come up to a wash out across the road, and another traffic jam – this one longer than the last.
Karen was terrified that I was going to stroke out. When we got close enough for her to see the flag woman, she slammed the car in park, ran to the front of the line and told the lady in no uncertain terms that she had to let us through – she had to get her husband to the hospital – NOW.
After a brief argument, we were allowed to the front of the line and after radioing ahead, let us through – Karen was throwing traffic pylons out of the way like a crazy woman on the way back to the car.
I know she hit 140kms/hr, because that’s when I closed my eyes, so I couldn’t see any more. If I was going to die that day, I didn’t want to see if coming.
After more than 3 hours, we arrived at the Parry Sound hospital. I could barely walk. The pain was beyond excruciating. COVID protocols were in effect, so Karen had to leave while I checked in, absolutely certain I was going to pee right there on the floor in triage.
They rushed me through triage and to an examining room. Soon I had a catheter inserted in my penis and up into my bladder.
IMMEDIATE RELIEF! OMG I was gonna live after all.
Not long after, the doctor returned to check on me, opened the door and said “ohhhhh”, turned around and left. What the hell was that all about? How can you say “ohhhhh” and leave? What’s going on? I am on my back and feeling pretty euphoric at this point – and am out of pain. Do I need to be worried?
Soon he comes back in and says, “we are going to admit you. There is a lot of blood coming from your bladder and we need to get to the bottom of this”.
I called Karen to tell her I was going to be admitted and to bring some clothes and a toothbrush.
I spent the next 2 days in Parry Sound hospital where I discovered several important things for future reference. 1) the people there are lovely and helpful 2) when you strain really hard to pee, sometimes you soil yourself unexpectedly 3) In this hospital they don’t go out of their way to change your sheets.
When I finally talked them into letting me go home to see my urologist in London, I discovered I had been laying in my own excrement for 2 days. NICE!
More Tests = More Humiliation
I was able to get an appointment with my urologist on the following Tuesday. Once again, into an examining room with him and several women interns. Well this is going to go spectacularly! I was not feeling very manly at that point.
Out of my clothes and into a gown.
“Lie on your back Mr. Wolfe and just relax. This may pinch a little as I shove a scope up your FREAKING penis, up through your larger than normal prostate and into your bladder, while several of these seemingly lovely women watch! We need to find out if there is a growth causing this. Oh, and check your pride at the door!”
Well as it turned out, there was no cancer – thank goodness. The blood was as a result of my bladder being so full, that it burst blood vessels inside and bled profusely. My urologist did not reveal to me that Nytol should not be my sleeping pill of choice. My Naturopathic Dr (daughter) informed me. Never again.
Alcohol and Nytol – not a good combination.
Note to self: There is a limit on how hard you should strain to pee, unless you carry a spare set of underwear.