Regarding the title of this blog post, in two words, IT SUCKS. Big time.
Before I elaborate on this, let me address what I tell myself, and what my wife tells me: there are many worse health problems.
Aside from not being able to pee properly without the aid of self-catheterization -- not fun, but better than getting kidney failure from a backed-up bladder -- I'm basically a pretty damn healthy 69 year old guy.
I wouldn't trade my bladder problem for, say, cancer, heart disease, or loss of a limb. And I've no doubt that people with more serious medical problems than a FUB (fucked-up bladder) have good reason to tell me, Dude, consider yourself lucky.
Look, I know all this. Yet I'm still seriously pissed-off at not being able to pee.
I've described my urinary retention travails in previous posts in this blog's "My Peeing Problem" category. Most recently, I had a third urologist tell me that, to put this in non-clinical terms, I'm screwed.
Not for a while. Not until drugs, or surgery, or pelvic floor therapy, or whatever, does its thing. For the rest of my life. My bladder, I've been told, has decided to go on strike for the duration.
Well, more accurately it's on a perpetual work slowdown. I can still pee a little bit, but not nearly enough to keep up with what's coming into my bladder. So four or five times a day I use a catheter to do what my bladder no longer can handle: getting rid of urine.
As a journal article puts it, this is the Other Bladder Syndrome: Underactive Bladder.
Mostly people talk about needing to go too often. Indeed this was my problem until about six months ago. I had a mildly enlarged prostate that I thought was being treated adequately with Flomax and Avodart.
I'd have to get up several times at night to pee, then go back to bed. On long flights I'd head to the lavatory more often than most of the other people on the plane. During intermission at a play I'd visit the restroom... just in case.
Belatedly, I now realize that I should have paid more attention to some increasing problems. Like, taking longer to get a urine stream going. And a few times, not being able to pee at all for a few hours, even though my bladder was full.
Live and learn, as they say.
Unfortunately, I learned too late and am now suffering the lifelong consequences. As one urologist told me, the progression of BPH, an enlarging prostate, can occur so slowly, so gradually, it is like the proverbial frog being boiled in water.
If the heat is turned up slowly, it's hard to tell what's going on. Until you're cooked. Which, apparently, my bladder is.
Frustratingly, I've been told by several urologists, "You don't have a prostate problem; you have a bladder problem." But when I've pointed out that it must have been my prostate problem that led to my bladder problem, I basically have been told that it really doesn't matter what the cause was -- my bladder has stopped working, regardless.
So one reason I'm writing this post is to urge men to go to a urologist sooner rather than later. Don't ignore symptoms like taking a long time to get your urine flow going, or not being able to pee at all for a few hours even though you really need to go.
I thought I was OK. I figured the medications I was on for BPH would take care of my prostate problem. I had no idea that an enlarged prostate could lead to a non-functioning bladder.
Like I said before, I was an idiot.
I ignored signs of impending urinary function doom because, well, just because. It wasn't that I tried to fuck up my bladder. That just happened, and now I've got to deal with a majorly sucky situation for as long as I live, according to three urologists.
An old friend had a favorite saying: No one's life is ever completely wasted. They can always serve as a horrible example to others.
I'm hoping that by yelling loudly enough through my blog, and maybe other social media, I can reach at least a few other guys who might otherwise ignore the "gradually boiling frog" of what could become a serious bladder condition.
I don't like my catheter-filled life, yet I've got no choice now but to deal with it. Other men with an enlarged prostate who are at risk of developing acute urinary retention that could turn into chronic urinary retention -- my fate -- you do have a choice.
Don't follow my horrible example.
Do what I didn't do. Make an appointment with a urologist. Get checked out. Don't think that just because your family doctor has prescribed some prostate medications that seem to be working OK, you'll be able to pee pretty much normally for the rest of your life.
I thought that. I was wrong. And now my life sucks. Don't follow in my idiotic footsteps. Be smarter than me. In another post I'll explain exactly how my life sucks. For now, just believe me. It does.
(There are various terms for an under-functioning bladder: atonic, neurogenic. This Medscape article has lots of information about a neurogenic bladder. I forced myself to read it even though it was depressing. But if you want to motivate yourself to avoid getting a screwed-up bladder like mine, take a look at "Neurogenic Bladder.")
Gravel root, aka Queen of the Meadow, is an herb known to have a contracting and tonic effect on the bladder causing increased fluid elimination. Parsley juice is also known to have this effect. These are not to be confused with other diuretic herbs like uva ursi which stimulate kidney function and may not directly address the atonic bladder issue the way gravel root does.
Posted by: tucson | November 20, 2017 at 08:55 AM
It does matter how it happened, to YOU. Maybe not to them.
And if you were in a world where everybody inherently had worse health problems, only then would you be the lucky one. But you are among healthy people, often, who CAN travel.
Above all, until this happened you did not have this problem. Compared to the prior you, and the healthy ones, of COURSE you are experiencing a considerable loss.
A loss of the health you HAD, and enjoyed. And worse, did not know to recognize the signs indicating it was wasting away.
Of COURSE there are the WHAT IFs...what if someone told me what TO WATCH OUT FOR.
While they are technically possibly right, I don't think it is too helpful when people point out to you in which ways you are actually really lucky.
It is as nonsensical as if you'd point out to them they're also really lucky they don't have someone's *** up their ****. THOSE ARE NOT THE ISSUES AT HAND. (You're a smart guy, you are infinitely familiar with your blessings and in which ways you are more fortunate than others.)
Anti-depressants have a roll, and also people validating and empathizing with you for your loss, to help you get a grasp on something as life changing. None of us want to have to deal with our parts more than is necessary for bodily functions. It is a vulnerable part of the body and the ongoing stress and discomfort will have psychological effects. The added pressure of IT 'must happen when it must happen' leads to potential stress and pressure, because it NOT happening could cause the worse problems you're so 'lucky to not have'. So you have that looming over you.
Unfortunately doctors see far worse daily and are spread thin. Were they to operate in their emotions they could probably not function.
And everybody else has their own pain externally, internally, or both, so no-one really has too much "lattitude" for another's woe.
Anyhoo- Thank you Brian for sharing this well-told story. Hearing about it is sobering, and while we face our own regular setbacks ongoingly, it is good to understand that something even more serious, something quite a bit horrrible, can happen to anyone of us, anytime.
And when it does, we will be expected to look on the bright side 😎.
Posted by: El | January 02, 2021 at 09:34 PM