Monday, January 21, 2019

Men, do you know you have a prostate gland?

British men largely unaware of the role of the prostate says a heading to a short article I came across today.

I'm not surprised by this in the slightest. It was only when my doctor - some years ago now - suggested having a PSA test regularly that I even knew I had a prostate. Is that possible? Had I been nearly 50 years on this planet without knowing about this vital part of my male anatomy?

Maybe my prostate had been mentioned in passing, but when you have an internal organ that behaves itself and does the job it's supposed to do without quibble, then you pretty much ignore it. We all know we've got hearts, because we can feel them pumping, or because the heart manages to get into all sorts of common expressions: Have a heart, brokenhearted, he's got a big heart, my heart longs for you, and so on.

We know we have a brain, even though we can't feel it, because the same thing applies: the brain comes into our everyday speech, and reinforces its part in our lives. Use your brain, you great useless piece of leftover spittle. 

But the prostate? Off the top of my head, I can't think of any common, everyday expression that involves the prostate. Worse, it's easy to get it mixed up with another word, prostrate, which has nothing to do with it, and which we sometimes use when we're talking about a person lying down. Or prostrating themselves before someone who's their superior. (Not something Western people tend to do least not in public.)

Otherwise the prostate doesn't get a mention, until your PSA climbs the charts (which it shouldn't) and you're sent off to the hospital for a prostate biopsy. A prostate biopsy, for most gentlemen, is not fun, though a friend of mine (who shares my birthday, as it happens) claimed he came through his biopsy without bother. Plainly he's tougher than I am. 

I learned a lot about prostates when I had problems with not being able to pee, and when my PSA count started to skyrocket. I learned more about biopsies when I had one and it caused other problems. Later, at the encouragement of a fellow-sufferer, I wrote a book about it: Diary of a Prostate Wimp. (Which incidentally, is the only book of mine that I can claim has been a bestseller, mainly because it was on Amazon's top twenty list for books relating to Urology a few times...!)

What I'm saying to any male who reads this: be grateful to your prostate. Be grateful that for most of your life it will work perfectly well. Be even more grateful that these days it's possible to have prostate cancer and survive. I know several guys who've been there and are still functioning well.

But guys, if your doctor says to you, we need to keep an eye on your PSA count, make sure you do. It may save your life.

PS: The majority of men who have a PSA test and a biopsy will prove to have no cancer. Cancer is not a given. I didn't have it. 

PSS: Talking about prostrating oneself, in a Korean TV series we watched some while back, the less important employees bowed to their superiors continually. It was quite disconcerting. 

No comments: