Serendipity: Finding Other Resources
I’m happy to report that my second post-surgery PSA, four months after my procedure, showed no indication of cancer. As I have already documented in previous articles, my attention has been focused on side effects, incontinence, and erectile dysfunction, with the former being a higher priority at this point than the latter. At my recent appointment with my urologist, when I told him I thought I had plateaued in my recovery from incontinence, he said, “What you see is not what you get. This will continue to improve. Keep on kegeling. Let’s meet again in October and if it’s still the same we can discuss a procedure that will help. It doesn’t require any incisions, but you will have to take it easy for a couple of weeks.” The word “procedure” got my attention.
My recovery so far
Backing up, in October of 2017, while still in active surveillance following my cancer diagnosis, I had cervical surgery to remove a deteriorated disc and shave bone spurs that were compromising my spinal cord. It all happened rather quickly, the surgery was successful, and the pain I’d been experiencing was gone. I regained good range of motion and in a couple of months I was back to doing the physical activities I enjoy most. Six months later, after an increase in my PSA and with the knowledge I had cancer gnawing at my sense of wellbeing, I had a radical laparoscopic prostatectomy.
So, with two surgeries and two recoveries under my belt in less than a year, the last thing I wanted to hear was that I might be a candidate for another “procedure.” My anxiety went up, my sense of having no control of my body increased. Coincidentally, after nine months of no neck pain, I was beginning to experience some of the symptoms that led to my first surgery. Not a good recipe for comfort and happiness. I saw my neurologist (I joke about the “-gists” in my life: cardiologist, urologist, neurologist) and he suggested two courses of action: 1. an MRI; 2. anti-inflammatory medication and physical therapy. For a variety of reasons, I chose 2. And I kept on kegeling.
Talking with my physical therapist
On my paperwork for physical therapy and at my first appointment I made it clear that I was recovering from cancer surgery, that my body was still healing, and that I was dealing with incontinence. My young and enthusiastic therapist told me that he knew of physical therapists who specialize in recovery from pelvic floor trauma, including incontinence following surgery. “Would you like me to get the information for you?” Of course I said, “Yes!” What a relief it was to find out that another resource was available to help me, one I hadn’t considered and hadn’t been suggested to me by my doctor. The pilot light of hope instantly became more like a beacon of possibility.
Have you heard of a pelvic floor therapist?
Calling the Center for Pelvic Health
My therapist provided me with the information I needed at my second session. I went home that afternoon, a Friday, and called The Center for Pelvic Health at the University of Southern California which, among other things, specializes in Continence Rehabilitation. I left a message, hoping I would receive a return call in “one to two business days” as promised by the voice on the recording. A weekend of waiting followed.
The call arrived on Monday afternoon. A very friendly young woman listened to my situation and assured me that many patients with my condition received help from the two specialists on staff and she encouraged me to make an appointment. Somewhat miraculously (serendipity at work), I didn’t have to wait three months to see someone. I’ll be traveling with my wife to USC, about 200 miles from my home in San Luis Obispo, California, on September 5th for what I hope will be the beginning of the end of my journey with incontinence. For now hope is good enough. I know enough not to have unreasonable expectations.
Optimistically embracing opportunity
Sometimes the universe opens doors for us in what previously seemed like a brick wall. My job is to have faith and step across the threshold enthusiastically, recognize a gift, and be grateful for it when it’s handed to me. Stay tuned for what I hope will be very good news about a month from now.
Do you feel heard and understood by your doctor?