Friday, October 15, 2010

When Your Pee Tube Refuses To Pucker

By James R. Norris

Okay, you had prostate surgery about eight months ago and you think you've pretty much got the peeing-your-pants thing whipped--once in a while you have few drops after you finish taking a leak, but it's no big deal. In fact, your doctor said you were doing so great you might even be able to get Mr. Happy to wake up and get back in the saddle in a few months.

You smile, smugly, when you think about a couple guys who had the same surgery and have to wear diapers to keep from peeing their pants.

You sit on the couch and the cat jumps in your lap--it purrs and rubs against your hands and flicks its tail across your nose. Your face screws up and you let out a glass-shattering sneeze--the cat is clinging to the ceiling and you're suddenly sitting in something that's warm and wet. You stand up and look at the widening wet spot--you not only peed your new Bermuda shorts, but you also peed the couch, and pee is running down your leg onto your flip-flops. Your dog comes over, sniffs your leg and does the same thing he'd do if you if you were a fire hydrant.

Doctors call it "Stress Incontinence"--you pee whenever you sneeze, cough, laugh, exercise or simply get up from a chair. We call it "Random Peeing"--it happens to a lot of guys who've had prostate surgery or radiation treatments. Your pee tube pucker muscle (sphincter) has weakened and the increased pressure from your belly on your bladder probably means you're going to pee anywhere, anytime especially when you laugh, cough, sneeze, get up from your seat or do any kind of exercise.

So what can you do about it?

One possibility might be a collagen injection into your pee tube, which would bulk it up and make your pee tube pucker muscle work better and, hopefully, stop you from peeing your pants. (I'm sure Angela Jolie would be thrilled to know that the same stuff that's used to fatten her lips is used to keep you from peeing your pants). The advantage of collagen injections is that they can be done under a local anesthesia in your doctor's office. The disadvantages are that they're not usually successful and you'll more than likely have to have more injections after a few months.

And guess what? There are risks and side effects.

You could get an infection, you could still pee your pants, you could have problems getting Mr. Happy to perform, peeing could be a painful experience and you could have sudden, frequent urges to take a major leak.

Another option is the artificial pucker muscle--it's a mechanical device that has a cuff, a pump and a reservoir. The cuff fits around your pee tube and compresses it except, of course, when you're peeing. The pump and reservoir are are surgically implanted in your ball sack, which means you now have two balls, a pump and a reservoir hanging between your legs. And this could be dicey, especially if you play tennis--think of what stopping a 100 mph serve with your crotch would do to all those goodies between your legs.

Anyway, the pump controls the deflation of the cuff and the reservoir regulates the pressure in the cuff. When you need to take a leak, you squeeze the pump two or three times until it's dimpled, which pulls the fluid out of the cuff, releasing the pressure on your pee tube. And when you're in the mall and you suddenly start squeezing your package and running for the can, just tell all those folks who are staring at you that you have a problem because you were shot up pretty bad in the war.

You'll have spinal or general anesthesia and you'll spend the night in the hospital. Then you'll have to wait four to six weeks for everything to heal before you can use the device. Until then, don't cough, sneeze or laugh, and when you get up from a chair or couch do it very slowly--having been there when you peed on the couch, the chances are your wife won't even let you get near anything that isn't made of wood or metal.

The artificial urinary sphincter has been used to treat random peeing for more than 20 years and according to the urology folks, the long term success has been very good with only 15 percent of the devices failing after seven years. Wouldn't you think that after damn near a quarter century they would come up with something less crude and longer lasting than a pump in your ball sack and a cuff around your pee tube? The device sounds like it might be something you'd see at a sixth-grade science fair or at a flea market, right next to the picture of dogs playing cards.

James Norris is a University of Wisconsin graduate and seasoned investigative journalist. His writing skills were honed during the 50s and 60s under the mentorship of (the late) Wilson Hicks, Executive Editor of Life magazine. Mr. Norris has written hundreds of articles and stories that have appeared in newspapers, a wide variety of magazines and in scholarly publications. He is the author of "To Pee or Not To Pee" and the ebook, "Biting The Poison Bullet".

"I wrote 'To Pee or Not To Pee' after I scoured the shelves of way too many bookstores trying to find something about the plumbing, procreation and recreation package between every guy's legs, and everything I found was dull, clinical, boring and written in a language only an M.D. could understand. 'To Pee or No To Pee' is the result of more than a year's research and is written in plain, everyday language and tells you everything you need to know about your prostate gland and the rest of that stuff between your belly button and your knees."

For everything you need to know about your prostate gland go to:


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