Wednesday, September 12, 2018

You're in (urine) trouble!

I heard a radio ad the other day that started with this interrogatory line: “Men, do you wake up to urinate?”

Certainly it’s a better option than not waking up. My wife agrees with me on this point.

I’m 51 years old now and have just lived through the two milestones that happen during your 50th year: 1) the AARP pummels you with embarrassing weekly mailings reminding you and everyone else who sees your mail that you’ve hit the big half century mark, and 2) you start paying attention to prostate commercials.

First, let’s take a look at the origin of the word prostate. Turns out it’s Greek, from the word prostátēs meaning “one standing before” or “protector” or “guardian.” It gets its name from its position at the base of a man’s bladder, sort of protecting the bladder like a security guard would protect a gasoline storage tank.

So you might think, “Hey, the bigger the guard, the better the protection.” In this case, the bigger the guard, the less gasoline he allows to be pumped into each delivery truck. And that’s why I must be dreaming about driving tanker trucks every night.

Now, in all seriousness, symptoms associated with prostate problems could be related to cancer of the prostate, which is the leading cancer among men, but at the same time, the cancer with the highest survival rate. About 80% of prostate cancer cases are diagnosed in men over 65 and almost 80% of men who reach the age of 80 have or have been treated for prostate cancer.

For most men, however, a growing prostate is just a reminder that they are due for a mid-life crisis. There’s a TV ad with four middle-aged men out for a ride in a 60’s vintage rag top (a clear reference to the driver’s mid-life crisis) and one of the guys needs to pull over at every gas station to take a whiz. This is clearly an annoyance for the other three guys who have been taking Flomax and can hold it for three days at a time.

Another problem an enlarged prostate exasperates is what a trusted friend of mine refers to as “shy bladder.” This trusted friend of mine tells me that he’s always had shy bladder, even as a kid in the junior high school locker room. Now that my trusted friend’s protector/guardian is creating its own set of challenges in a totally private setting, imagine how difficult it is for my trusted friend to use a public bathroom lined with urinals sans privacy dividers. I can only imagine his frustration…

By the way, my trusted friend highly recommends the support website The medical term for this condition is Paruresis and is commonly referred to as stage fright and urophobia. The next time someone tells you he’s urophobic, you’ll know he’s not afraid of Europeans, per se; he’s just uncomfortable peeing among them.

Which brings me back to the radio ad. I don’t even remember what the “growing problem” remedy was that they were peddling, but a quick search of the Internet reveals dozens of medications and homeopathic treatments for BPH. At first, I thought BPH was a measurement, like bathroom (B)reaks (P)er (H)our, but I now know it stands for (B)ladder (P)rotector (H)umongous.

Okay. Just kidding. BPH is (B)enign (P)rostatic (H)yperplasia, which translates to non-cancerous, Andre-The-Giant-like enlarging of what is supposed to be a walnut-sized gland into a lemon-sized version of your third grade teacher who told you that you could hold it until the end of class. But you couldn’t. At least that’s how my trusted friend related the story to me.

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