Wednesday 20 December 2023

Rog T's Cancer Blog - Christmas with no prostate (not for the faint hearted)

***** Warning - This blog contains stuff that people who've not had a radical prostatectomy may find uncomfortable.

Christmas is coming. This year will be a bit different. I had my prostate removed and I've had to change a few things and I've learned a few things. 

So lets start with what has changed.

I can only drink three cups of non decaffinated tea per day, if I want to have a regular toilet usage pattern

I can only drink a maximum of four pints of beer on a session, if I don't want to wake up in a damp patch. 

I am vulnerable to stress and anxiety in a way that I have not felt since I was in my early teens.

I am not alone in any of this.

And what have I learned (look away now if you are easily shocked by discussions of bodily functions)

I can have an orgasm without having an erection (Both at the same time is a challenge after an RP proceedure for me at the moment)

It is possible to think you are having an erection when you are not

I am older than I thought I was before the op.

If I go out, I need to plan a route that includes a toilet stop a maximum of 45 minutes apart, if I am drinking beer or tea.

Being happy or even in mental balance takes a lot of work after a radical prostatectomy.

Viagra type medication is not only for other people.

People aren't psychic and will know none of this, unless they've been through what I have been through.

There. I put it out there and it wasn't easy. But I am not the only person dealing with this right now. As I write this, a friend is under the knife, having his bladder and prostate removed. I thought I'd had a bad time, I've been trying to encourage hi,. He's been told that if he doesn't have it, there will be no 'Next Xmas'. I thought I had bad time. There is always someone who is deeper in the mire. 

What is rather strange is that if it wasn't for that day in August (and the surrounding stress which started in March, or in November 2011, depending on how you look at it), 2023 has been a decent year. My business will make a profit, albiet a small one, following the Pandemic, which nearly killed it. My football team, Manchester City won the treble, which I'd never have dreamed of when I was diagnosed. My band (The False Dots) has had an absolutely awesome year, with some brilliant gigs at The Dublin Castle in Camden town and locally (we are playing again on Saturday 23rd so come down, TICKETS CLICK HERE). We released our first digital single as well! Please have a listen if you can!!

In any other year, I'd be buzzing. But this year? I can't lie, I feel anxious and apprehensive. Not because I am particularly concerned about the cancer at this point. The PSA test I had post op was very positive. What bothers me is that, post op, I don't really feel like a proper man anymore. I have an extremely supportive partner, who assures me that the most important thing is that I am alive and the cancer has most likely been dealt with permanently. My friends couldn't really give a stuff. But as far as I'm concerned, I do not feel good with myself. Maybe it's in my head. Maybe it isn't. I still have the same sort of dreams that I had before, but I wake up and they bother me. I realise that now, those things are dreams, there is no prospect at all currently of me being what I was on the 8th August. I was very reluctant to have a radical prostatectomy because I didn't want to be in the situation I am right now, with regard to my male potency. I find intimacy mildly stressful at time, whilst still embracing the idea. I have darl thoughts, where I wonder whether I'd have been better off not having the RP and taking my chances. If I'd simply let the cancer develop and when it started to be a problem, gone on hormone therapy (which is in effect chemical castration), I'd have had a few years where I felt vaguely normal. Of course, I'd have been in a very different situation 5-10 years from now, potentially, but who knows, medical science, may have pulled my nuts out of the fire then. My wife told me, when I mentioned that, that it would be a really selfish thing to put the family through. Although it wasn't an option for me at the time I decided, in hindsight, there are times it seems like a better option.

But, and this is the big but. My PSA had doubled in a year. My prostate had a signficant number of contained tumours, it was in far worse shape than I or my doctors had realised. It was probably caught just in time, before it started metastasising. Things are improving. With the assistance of a Cialis prescription, there are rumblings where there was nothing. Apparently, the situation with erections can improve for three years and according to my mens health physio, I am ahead of the game and the prognosis there is far better than it seems to me right now.  

I share these dark thoughts, not for any other reason than because when I talk to friends who have been through the same thing, these are the feelings we all have had. We work through them. In truth, four months after surgery is really no time at all. In a years time, I will have a far better perspective on where I am. This Christmas, I have 22 family members coming for Xmas. My nephew and Godson has a new baby, my sister and her husband are over from the USA for the season (he had a prostatectomy a few years back and is enjoying life). I am going to see one of my favourite bands on Thursday. Normally, this is accompanied by a hefty supply of Guinness. This year, I will limit it. I have to work on Friday anyway, so probably not the worst thing. 

In truth, this Xmas is very much a time when I am feeling very conflicted and anxious, but am also in some ways more optimistic and positive than I've been for a long time. The cancer has made me more determined than ever to embrace my music and my life. With regards to what will happen with the cancer, whatever will be, will be. The prognosis is as good as it can be. It is highly likely that I have been cured permenantly, but only time will tell. Maybe drinking less is no bad thing. I only really drink to excess when I am out with friends, I don't drink when I am in on my own. I've never felt like "I need a drink" on my own. I have resigned myself to just living with whatever the situation is regarding my potency. I am doing what my mens health physio tells me to. 

The thing that I am 100% happy with is that I don't feel like I have the Sword of Damacles that has been over my head since 2011, when I was first diagnosed with  a Gleason 3+3 cancer over my head. I feel that I can at least approach 2024 from the viewpoint that things can and will get better (yes I know that is a foolish viewpoint, as men make plans and God laughs). 

Back at the start of the year, I wrote a blog about my New Years Resolutions. I had no idea that my cancer would flare up and cast such a shadow. However, I have by and large met all of my resolutions. 

I stuck to my alcohol pledge, in fact probably exceeded it due to the op! 

I met. I have finished my book, I just need to sort out the pictures and it's ready. I think its is pretty good. I've decided to not do the cancer episode. I think that warrants it's own little book.

I only managed two instalments of my London Symphonies project, despite committing to six, I simply didn't have the band width withe everything else going on.

The band has finished the album and done more gigs.

And the biggest plus, I've finally learned to ignore the idiots on Social media. Life is to precious to waste on such people.

I will leave you with the very best wishes for the festive season. None of us know what the future holds, so enjoy the time with people you love and celebrate as you see fit. Count your blessings, enjoy the good things, persevere with the challenges.Whatever else is or is not true, we live at the best time ever to face Prostate Cancer. The treament options increase constantly and we will eventually beat this nightmare. Some of us may not see the promised land, but we will get there.

I leave you with a little gift. My amazing band partner, musical director and engineer, Mr Fil Ross, has recorded an Xmas single. It is rather good, so if cheesy Xmas numbers are your thing, have a listen and tell your friends. It makes a big change from the amazing rock and roll bass guitar he plays with The False Dots.

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