The continuing story of The Midnight Trot…
After a fairly lengthy wait I walk into the rooms of a urologist. I’m surprised. He’s smiling and about my age and that’s too young for a specialist – specialists are grey and grumpy; I’ve seen ‘House’ and ‘Casualty’ – I know! We go through my sad story again and in yet more detail.
‘Right,’ he says, ‘ Let’s have a look at you on the couch.’ (Just a moment, what exactly are your qualifications?) I scramble reluctantly up.
‘Slip the trousers and underpants right down please.’ (No! Shan’t!) We achieve a compromise which leaves my dignity more or less intact and while he prods my abdomen and goolies I focus on a small piece of chewing gum unaccountably stuck to the ceiling…
‘Right, now I need to examine your prostate. I’ll need to put my finger into your back passage. Roll onto your side and curl up into a ball.’
A finger ? Where? Surely he didn’t say….?
A latex clad finger slipped itself into a place where no finger has slipped before and with a heave he turns his upper body through 90 degrees allowing his digit to make contact with what I later discovered was my Prostate gland. The twin sensations of having my internal organs pulled out through a very narrow opening and of having my genitalia folded back in on themselves sends tears to my eyes and a tirade of abuse to my lips. At this moment I realise how the chewing gum became attached to the ceiling!
I confidently confirm his diagnosis.
He sighed. I could see I was not as interesting a case as he had hoped for because it seems we are only looking at prostatitis. He must have seen my blank expression.
The prostate it turns out ( and indeed mine felt as if it had just been turned out) is a walnut sized gland that sits at the base of the bladder and nestles up against the wall of the rectum – hence the undignified examination; the rectum providing a convenient point of contact between it and the doctor. This little walnut is a bit of a medical mystery – no one knows all of its functions – but it certainly provides fluid to the sperm as they pass through the urethra at the moment of sexual climax. The fluid provides energy for the sperm, and also enzymes which alter the fluidity of the semen; it’s all part of the necessities of reproduction apparently .
The urethra, incidentally, is the pipe, which in a man, serves as both a route for the energised sperm and a discharge outlet for urine. It’s a funny old thing, the body!!
When the prostate becomes infected or swollen through other causes, it locks around the urethra and this both irritates the bladder, making it want to discharge urine even when it is only partially full, and also prevents a full flow through the urethra. This is Prostatitis.
Now here’s a staggering thought: it is reckoned that up to 50% of the male population (UK) will at some time or other develop a form of prostatitis – that is to say some form of infection of the prostate. Considering what a large number that it is, it is extraordinary how little we talk about this disease. I guess men just don’t like bringing their dangly bits out into the open, or admitting how many fingers they’ve had up their bums!!
Also, the prostate naturally enlarges throughout a man’s life and thus more than half of men in their 60’s and up to 90 percent of men in their seventies and eighties will experience what is called BPH or Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia – that is swelling and blocking. In men of my age (mid forties) the cause of such blocking is usually an infection or possibly cancer. Though the incidence of cancer is much lower in men in their forties than in their fifties and sixties.
Of course at this time about the only thing that I did know about the prostate was that you could get cancer in it! My urologist said that he would send a blood test off which would confirm or exclude that possibility.
He did. It wasn’t…..
I was relieved!
So all I needed was a course of antibiotics, which I duly took for a couple of weeks. And it worked!! Within days the nocturnal visits had gone, and I was back to my old self.
But not for long…..
To Be Continued…