While receiving physical therapy for problems with my cervical spine, I told my therapist about my recent laparoscopic prostate surgery, the efforts I was making to restore pelvic health, including improvement of my incontinence, a side effect of the surgery. I told him that I was making steady progress but was a little frustrated with where I was after more than four months of kegeling on a daily basis. I had graduated from full time Depends briefs, to guards during the day and shields at night, to guards while active, shields the rest of the day, and no protection at night.
Scheduling my pelvic health PT appointment
He told me about therapists at the University of Southern California who specialized in restoring pelvic health to men and women following prostate surgery, childbirth, and other pelvic trauma. I enthusiastically accepted his offer to provide me with information about them and their program. After perusing the USC Division of Biokinesiology and Physical Therapy website, I called and made an appointment with Doctor of Physical Therapy, Peter Muhn.
Taking action and traveling to USC
My wife and I live in San Luis Obispo, California, three hours north of Los Angeles. As a precaution against getting caught up in the notorious LA rush hour traffic, we drove to Burbank the night before my appointment and checked into a motel right next to Interstate 5, 14 miles from the USC Science Center, the location for my appointment. It felt good to have a plan, to take action, to be enthusiastic and excited about this next step of my journey with prostate cancer.
We arrived 30 minutes early, as requested, were greeted by a friendly clerical staff, and I had time to fill out forms to complement the completed forms I had brought with me. Promptly at 11, the scheduled time of the appointment, we were escorted to the examining room where we met Dr. Muhn and a third year Ph.D. student who was assisting him. I’ve had the experience of waiting for an hour or longer beyond the scheduled time of an appointment, so I was already impressed and in good spirits.
My visit with Dr. Muhn
After pleasant introductions, Dr. Muhn asked me to explain the reason for my visit. He calmly and attentively listened while I went through the narrative of my journey. I’m sure he’s heard many similar stories, but I was impressed by his attention and how, throughout the following sixty minutes, I never felt there was any rush. We were going to have as much time as we needed to get where we were meant to go on that first visit. A positive tone was set, which is so helpful in reducing any anxiety that accompanies entering a new health related environment.
I explained where I was in my progress with incontinence, the program of kegeling I’d been following, my concerns about where I was headed and how long it would take, including impact on lifestyle. Using a three dimensional model of the pelvic floor, Dr. Muhn pointed out what had happened during the surgery, the damage that accrues, the areas that need to heal and be repaired. It was the first time I’d had that thorough of an explanation. I felt another wave of relief and an additional dimension of understanding.
An unexpected experience was having my kegeling exercises observed and evaluated. I was complimented for my dedication to my routine, for my technique and for my progress, which Dr. Muhn assured me was on schedule, “right where you should be on the Bell curve.” He then laid out a different sequence of exercises that included more variety and concentration on all of my core. He told me that many men are given the exercises, but that it’s surprising how many don’t follow them and fail to improve. I assured him that I would be rigorous in following the program.
A new, open door of opportunity
I left USC feeling as if a whole new door of opportunity had opened for me. I had a better understanding of where I’d been since April, where I am now, and where I’ll be six months from now. I don’t think I could have asked for more. I’ll return on October 24th to have my progress checked. Dr. Muhn communicated with my local physical therapist so now I have a team helping me with my recovery from the two surgeries I’ve had in the last year.
My wife and I are packing to leave for Bishop, California, for three days of hiking in the Eastern Sierra and the White Mountains. I’m going with high confidence, high spirits, and inspiring new directions.
How much do you worry about prostate cancer coming back after treatment?