Last night my wife and I saw Ed Asner perform "A Man and His Prostate" at the Elsinore Theatre here in Salem, Oregon.
It's an entertaining reading by Asner of what a different Ed, Ed Weinberger, wrote concerning what he went through after he collapsed while on a vacation in Italy. Since I'm not going to describe the show in much detail, you can read a review to learn about it.
What I want to do is share five observations of A Man and His Prostate based on my personal experience of being also a man, with a prostate, who has had prostate problems of his own.
(1) Funny to hear about, not so amusing to experience. Weinberger's writing and Asner's performance are wonderfully light-hearted.
It was great to view the humorous side of a prostate problem. But I can pretty much guarantee that when Weinberger was experiencing his prostate travails ("two hours from kidney failure" due to urinary retention, we learn) there wasn't nearly as much amusement in them.
This isn't a criticism of the show, nor of the copious laughter that accompanied Asner's reading. It's just an observation that if someone with a serious prostate problem is overly sensitive, they might find that parts of the show hit an emotional tender spot.
(2) Flomax isn't as scary as Asner's side effects bit proclaims. Asner said Flomax, a commonly prescribed drug that makes it easier to urinate, "has more side effects than a divorce."
That's certainly true. As regards potential side effects, at least.
But virtually every prescription drug comes with a disturbingly long list of possible side effects. Asner correctly said that dizziness is one of them, and I did indeed experience some dizziness after I took my first Flomax and got out of bed that night to, naturally, pee.
But my bout of dizziness lasted only one day. Since, I haven't noticed any Flomax side effects. Your results may vary, of course. And I have to admit that this statement about Flomax on the Drugs.com site is worthy of making a joke about.
Flomax may impair your thinking or reactions. Be careful if you drive or do anything that requires you to be alert.
(3) My doctors always have done a digital prostate exam at my annual physical. Ever since I turned forty or thereabouts, I'm pretty sure I've always gotten the not-so-fun digital, as in finger, prostate exam that plays a pretty prominent role in A Man and His Prostate.
By its absence. Weinberger, as read by Asner, complains to his doctor (during a phone call after he was admitted to a Florence hospital) that he'd never gotten a finger up the ass in the many years they've had a doctor-patient relationship.
This surprised me. I've always figured that men of a certain age get their prostate felt by their doctor through the rectum wall as a matter of course. I wrote about my experience of this after switching to a woman physician in "Female doctors do it better."
Naturally I was curious as to how the most intimate and least favorite part of a middle-aged male annual physical exam would go. I’m pleased to report, just fine. This was the first time that my prostate had been examined by a female doctor and I can confidently say that, based on this sample of one, women do it better.
More gentle, for sure. Smaller fingers are nice. More communicative too. This was my first prostate exam where I got a running verbal commentary from the doctor: “Hmmmm. Feels pretty normal. Regularly shaped. Just about normal size. Well, let’s make that a normal size for men your age who have a somewhat enlarged prostate.”
Great. A prostate exam is the only time you don’t want to hear from a female who is inspecting your genital area that you’re larger than average. Maybe Flomax will get me nearer to normal.
(4) There's good reasons to either get, or decline, a PSA test for prostate cancer. Actually the mention of a PSA test only came up after Asner's reading when a Salem Health (sponsor of the local show) physician talked about the importance of screening for prostate cancer, which is a major killer of men.
I've gone back and forth on getting a PSA test after the United States Preventive Services Task Force recommended in 2011 against getting the test in most cases. I talked about this in "Why I still decided to get a PSA test" and "My prostate is featured in the AARP Bulletin!"
My basic feeling, which is still my current feeling, is that the results of a PSA test provide information that either can be accepted or ignored depending on a man's personal circumstances. The test isn't very accurate, but a positive result should lead to consideration of other sorts of tests than point to whether a prostate is cancerous.
(5) Asner's worries about impotence after prostate surgery were amusing. My favorite part of the show was near the end, when Asner relates Weinberger's anxiety about not being able to get an erection following surgery (even after viewing Italian porn on his hotel room TV), with his wife arriving the next day.
He has the bright idea that a massage with a "happy ending" is called for. And it would be for his wife -- an oft-repeated statement that always got laughs from the audience.
Eventually we learn that there was indeed a happy ending to this tale, though not the one initially envisioned.
Now, I'm no expert on impotence following prostate surgery. However, I do know that low dose daily Cialis has been approved by the FDA as a treatment for men who have both an enlarged prostate and erectile dysfunction at the same time.
Just an observation, along with the four others that I've listed.
Bottom line: if you have the chance, go see A Man and His Prostate. Ed Asner is going to be 88 in a few days. It was inspiring to me, a comparatively young 69 year old, to see Asner perform the show so competently and vigorously.