Pity the Poor Prostate
One year after mine spoke up, it’s time to pay tribute to prostates everywhere.
April is fast upon us. The 13th of the month will mark the one year anniversary of my diagnosis–365 days since my little gland volleyed a shot that was heard around my world and rocked it. During these 12 months–a measure of time that defies characterization in my mind–I have had a good amount of time to consider the life of a prostate. By my assessment, it’s not a glamorous one.
The male prostate plays a vital role in human sexuality, yet, unlike the female breast, no one is inclined to immortalize it in works of art. It stirs no sense of reverence or enticement. Certainly, no one is getting rich publishing photos of it on the web or in publications that tend to be hidden from sight. When folks do engage in discussion of internal body parts, we hear about livers, kidneys, gall bladders and an array of other fleshy parts, but rarely–if ever–about the prostate. In the rare cases it is talked about, many insist on changing its name by adding an “r” and calling it a “prostrate” instead of its proper name, prostate, which rhymes with late. No matter how ”prostrate (incapacitated) with grief” Miss Scarlett may have been in Gone with the Wind, it certainly wasn’t an ill prostate adding to her woes.
To add insult upon injury, consider its place in life…
Every prostate is destined to live in the industrial part of town. With a bladder hanging over its head and the rectal wall to its back–it is constantly being pushed around and bullied by our bodily tides without so much as an excuse me, coming through or a thank you. Oh, how it must shudder at the thought of beer and chili outings with the guys.
Its professional life isn’t much to brag about either. It is forced into the workforce early in life to produce copious amounts of seminal fluid, long before a young man can even comprehend, much less find, a meaningful relationship. Then, with the assistance of miracle drugs such as Cialis and Viagra, it is often forced to work well beyond what was once considered–by some obliging partners–a respectable retirement age.
It’s only when a series of biological events triggers a potential health problem that prostates get any respect. If they are lucky, they are treated with antibiotics for bacterial infection (prostatitis) and given a reprieve. As they age (like many of us) they can lose their youthful shape and grow in mass (benign prostatic hyperplasia). If they are unfortunate enough to be suspected of harboring renegade cells (prostate cancer), they are poked, prodded and bombarded by needles. This often leads to the spectre of being subjected to radiation, toxic chemical substances and powerful drugs. Often, they are separated from the only life they have ever known by a cold, razor-sharp scaple. REALLY… they’re just doing their job, not asking for much in return when their environment turns on them. It’s just not fair. What’s more, once they heal from their surgery, many men who are able, relieved and glad to resume their sex lives without the prostate’s standard contribution (depending on age, physical fitness and treatment), do so without giving much thought to a once loyal but now lost friend.
In short, prostates everywhere are misunderstood, underappreciated, overworked and forced to live in the shadows. If I could, I’d personally train them to belt out a good round of “R-E-S-P-E-C-T, DON’T KNOW WHAT IT MEANS TO ME” at full party volume… I believe it would certainly become the most preferred vocal uttered by male derrieres around the world.
Yes, one year after diagnosis and ten months following my surgery, I miss my prostate. I wish I never had to let the little guy go. But I did. I remain grateful for its years of service and remain steadfast in my assumed role as Defender of Prostates. So, this April, I pay tribute to prostates everywhere and ask that their owners take a moment to familiarize themselves with this amazing little part of their anatomy. Appreciate it and learn how to care for it. Because, all too often, we don’t fully appreciate what we have until it’s gone.
POST SCRIPT: Soon after posting this entry, one fellow patient suggested this old Ral Donner song as an appropriate anthem for the lost prostates.