Thursday, December 15, 2011

6) The Dreaded Prostate Biopsy

Both my wife and I met with Dr. Zink at Group Health to discuss options regarding potential Prostate Cancer. Regardless of how you feel about it, this is not something you want to hide from your family, or try to bull your way through on you own. Allowing your loved ones to be part of the process is a good thing, and will lead to a much faster healing along with an improved quality of life.

From the start Dr. Zink told us he had performed over 1,000 Prostate Biopsies over the years. He could only think of two infections as a result of his Biopsies, which was much lower than the National Average for Prostate Biopsy Complications. Because of his success rate, he was reluctant to change his protocol at this point and would stick with the Cipro to prevent Prostate Biopsy Infections.

I told him I was a wimp when it came to medical procedures and very worried about the pain during the process. I’m the type of person who can hit my hand with a hammer, then use duct tape and a paper towel to stop the bleeding and keep on working. But when it comes to even small little needles and someone else poking around, I just might pass out. He said there was no way to avoid needles. He would be using a local lidocaine for a periprostatic block at the time of the procedure and he would prescribe an oral sedative as long as I had some to drive afterwards.

I asked Dr. Zink about taking Pectasol-C and Tagamet prior to, and after a Biopsy. He said he had never seen a paper that shows a Biopsy could Spread Prostate Cancer and he would not recommend the Tagamet. He did not have an opinion regarding the Pectasol-C. Yes, I did keep taking the Pectasol-C! In fact, I upped the dose around the time of the Prostate Biopsy. Nor did he have an opinion of any supplements to take before the procedure. I wrote this off as the standard medical response from someone in his profession. With all the malpractice, insurance issues, and internal regulations of a large medical operation such as Group Health, there just isn’t the time or inclination for doctors to explore other options no matter how good they may be. Let’s face it, Dr. Zink may be really good at what he does, but he totally resides within his narrow line of expertise. To expect him to reach beyond that standard norm, is asking way too much for medicine in America today. (Later in this Blog I will be sharing the options I have personally chosen for my own alternative healing, Releasing the Prostate Cancer.

Based on Dr. Zink’s Biopsy results, and with a desire to see if there actually was a serious problem, we decided to go ahead with the process. The first thing I did was to call Group Health to acquire an 'Estimate' on their costs for the procedure as I am on a high deductible insurance plan. A few days later I called again for another estimate. (More on this to follow)

At Dr. Zink’s request for 10 days before the Prostate Biopsy I abstained from aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), naproxen (Aleve), fish oil, Vitamin E, clopidogrel (Plavix), aggrenox, and any other blood thinners. There is some bleeding with this procedure and there is no sense creating further risk. Dr. Zink also prescribed a single diazepam just before the procedure as a sedative/relaxer, and of course there was the enema and cipro for me to take at home before I came into his office for the biopsy.

My wife and I walked into his office about 20 minutes early for my appointment. Were both nervous, but I was beginning to feel the diazepam and becoming increasingly calm. When call back we were told that we both could come. Surprise. My wife was there with a direct view of the entire procedure. Of course for the most part she had seen most of it before. In her own words this is her experience:

When Steve made his appointment for the biopsy I knew that I would go with him. He decided to get some medicine to relax before the procedure. I thought it a good idea.

When we arrived at the Doctor’s office he checked in, got the usual weigh in, blood pressure etc and then he took a pill to relax. Wish I had some for me.

After 20 minutes or so the nurse said we ‘both’ could go into the Room and gave instructions on how to prepare for the Biopsy. I was surprised when they said I could accompany Steve. Ohhhhkay…I didn’t expect that, and didn’t quite know quite what to expect… but I was all for it.

Dr. Zink explained exactly what he was going to do. He had the ultrasound machine right at his side. As the nurse and Doc got ready for the procedure I was surprised… no ‘shocked’ at the Length of the Needles that were used. Oh my God - - these things are long, and looked wickedly sharp.

He first put the Probe up Steve’s ass and I could see the picture of his prostate. This was actually very interesting. The doctor explained what I was looking at, the size, the placement and so on. Never having seen a prostate up close and personal - - it was really cool.

The first needle that went in I could feel my body tighten and get uncomfortable. As I saw that Steve didn’t seem to feel it and couldn’t see a thing. I got more relaxed and just viewed the process.

The nurse and doctor were precise, methodical, careful and continually checked in with Steve as to how he was doing. That put me at ease.

The entire procedure of getting out all the samples was done in maybe 15 minutes. After waiting another 10 minutes or so to make sure Steve was okay, we were on our way.

I was glad to be there for support and getting information but don’t look forward to another Biopsy if Steve chooses to have one.

My experience of the Prostate Biopsy was a bit different. I lay on my left side with my but hanging out over the medical table facing Dr. Zink and my wife. It was a reasonable comfortable position. Insertion of the ultrasound probe was a bit uncomfortable but not a problem. Then came the lidocaine. It was done in several shots and stung like the dickens, not unlike a strong bee sting for a short time, then drifted away. Dr. Zink was very good about asking how I was doing throughout the process. When it was time for to take the Prostate samples, I could feel the process of the needle going in, and hear the sound of the spring loaded mechanism taking the sample, but there was no, or very, very, little pain. In all the Prostate Biopsy was uncomfortable but not unreasonable.

When I got home I lay down and rested for a short time. Dr. Zink had warned me about blood in my urine and sure enough there was some. By the second day the reddish urine ting was passing, and thankfully with the help of the Cipro I did not experience any infection. Generally for the next week I consciously moved slower than usual, did not lift anything heavy, and just focused on healing my body. The results arrived 5 days after the Prostate Biopsy. Sure enough I had Prostate Cancer in three areas. Bummmmer!! The good news was that it was ‘Slow Growing’.

Next installment: Diagnosis and Beginning to Heal

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