By Ted Gargiulo – Four years ago, I was diagnosed with BPH. It’s a common affliction for men over 50, wherein the prostate becomes enlarged and presses against the bladder. For someone like me, who consumes one to two gallons of water a day, the problem can be most burdensome, and painful. It got so bad, this squeamish dude finally cowboyed-up and sought treatment.
That was when I learned of a minimally invasive procedure that the urologist performs right in his office. It involves bombarding the prostate with microwaves and shrinking it back to its normal size.
Here’s how it works. The doctor threads a thin catheter tube up the through the urethra and into the bladder/prostate area. The other end is connected to a machine that dispenses a measured dose of microwaves into the target area, plus water to keep it cool. Feels like you’re peeing in reverse. (Kids, don’t try this at home!) I also had a thermometer plugged into my posterior port to make sure the prostate didn’t overcook. “While you’re in the neighborhood,” I told the doc, “why don’t you plug in a keyboard and check your e-mail?” I thought a little humor would put him at ease. Sure didn’t want him getting all shaky up inside me. A slip of that tip would sink my ship.
It was a very long hour. I tried thinking pleasant thoughts, but couldn’t summon any. The brochure had described this experience as a slight discomfort. Trust me, discomfort doesn’t do it justice. Had I been a prisoner of war, I’d have revealed everything.
The procedure proved successful; that was the good news. The bad news was, I had to keep that catheter inside me all next week and use a plastic bag strapped to my leg. The bleepin’ thing kept jabbing me in the worst way and required constant maintenance. I’d be sitting on the sofa watching a movie, and I’d notice my right leg swelling up by the minute—like an alien about to hatch. I’d have to stop everything and hobble gingerly towards the bathroom, clutching this growth inside my pants to keep it from bursting open before I got there.
There’s a fine art to emptying the bag without baptizing one’s feet…but I didn’t master that until the third day. The bouquet of pee and plastic will haunt me forever! And if there’s anything a man should avoid (other than kick-boxing) when there’s a catheter wedged inside his wee-wop, is arousal. I learned that the…um, hard way. Hands off the spouse!
The doc wasn’t in his office the day I went to have the contraption removed. His nurse, however, was only too willing to oblige. How humiliating! “No problem,” she said. “I’ve done this hundreds of times.”
I lay there on the table in my gown and skivvies, fists clenched, bracing for impact. “Please, be gentle!” I pleaded. How often I’d heard those words; now I was the one uttering them. The nurse counted to three, then yanked the tube like she was cranking an outboard motor. One sharp “YAAAAHHH!”…and it was over.
“You can get dressed now. See, that wasn’t so bad.”
“It was great,” I said. “I just hope you’ll respect me in the morning.”