Before you read my article, here is my conclusion: If you must undergo a Prostate biopsy, “There is no reason for pain in a modern, well equipped room.’
You will not find this advice on the internet. What you will find are painful words describing the procedure: A little like being “sodomized with a knitting needle.” “Sometimes the pain is so severe that the men jump off the table.” “A dozen needles” are inserted where the sun don’t shine” Those dozen needles pluck fifteen separate samples from your prostrate because five separate samples were found to be not enough to be sure.
One doctors answers the question “Does it hurt? with the words, “It is painful…local anesthesia is useless…it hurts.’
The title of another, lengthy article, seems to offer relief: “What causes Men Pain in Prostrate Biopsy and Best Method To Alleviate it.“ The articles lists three kinds of pain relief, One, injection between prostrate base & seminal… Two, Intrapostatic injection… Three, injection… Good grief: pain relief in the form of an injection which the article admits “caused more pain.”
Relieve pain by causing more pain! And after all this pain & more pain, the writer of this article says “pain…may never be completely overcome by anesthetic.”
I disagree strongly. When it comes to a Prostate biopsy, “There is no reason for pain in a modern well equipped room.“ Do not accept anything less than the kind of sedation all men receive during a colonoscopy -- you are awake during the procedure but you will remember nothing. Ask for it. Demand it!
My story -- which took place in America.
There was a clear need for a prostrate biopsy -- two separate readings, eight months apart, revealed a sharp rise in PSA levels. Coincidentally, it was time for a colonoscopy. Good. I asked them to do the two together. My last colonoscopy involved no pain, no memory, no nothing. I’m all for that.
No, we can’t do it, they said to me, the two can’t be done at the same time, they said to me. Lots of excuses: you need to be awake, we need to talk to you, you need to be moved….blah, blah, blah… Essentially, the answer was no way Jose, and you can do nothing about it because we make the rules.
(Much, much later I found out that it was a “scheduling” problem… the equipment is in two different rooms…. When each procedure can bring the hospital almost fifteen hundred dollars, what incentive does the hospital have to combine procedures? They will always choose to double their income -- and double your fun.)
I hate pain. I am a devout coward, and I let every medical person I encountered (doctors, nurses…) know my feelings, my fears. Sorry, they all said silently. Pain is part of the procedure, they all let me know. “Take it like a man” was the unstated sub-text of all communication with me. (An article, by a doctor, in a medical journal, even said that doctors know the procedure is painful, but they believe we should “take it like a man.”)
I voiced my fears so often that finally, over the phone, the nurse who phoned from the hospital to “take my details” suggested I ask my doctor for an “anti anxiety’ pill. I did. He prescribed it, I took it, and showed up on a Monday morning at the appropriate room in the hospital, still out of my mind nervous.
I continued to let all & sundry know how afraid I was, how I wish I could be sedated, how I wish I were elsewhere.
After about five minutes into my by-now-well-rehearsed litany of fears, the nurse prepping me for the doctor who was about to perform the procedure said: “Well we could sedate you. It would be less painful. You would be more comfortable.” I said, “You can sedate me?” She said, yes, but we would have to re-schedule your appointment. “That’s okay with me“ I almost yelled gleefully. Reschedule me, and why wasn’t I offered the sedation option before?
She couldn’t answer that. No one answered that. I wonder, still wonder, why I wasn’t offered sedation by my doctor, or by one of the almost half dozen nurses who heard me voice my fears. The best I was offered was a prescription for anti anxiety pills.
Anti anxiety pills? That is nowhere near enough. I want to be unconscious, not there, not able to remember. I want to be in another universe -- and when you are finished, invite back into this universe.
My Prostrate Biopsy was rescheduled. I was given the very same kind of intravenous feed I had received just three weeks earlier for my colonoscopy, but I was told it was a lower dosage.
While I was in the recovery room, the nurse told my wife why the sedation option was suddenly being offered at this hospital. It seems that recently a Radiologist at the hospital had a Prostrate Biopsy. After the biopsy he said “Okay, that’s it. No more. We will offer sedation. I know how painful this procedure is. We have solutions. If someone asks for it, we should offer sedation.”
If someone asks for it! If someone asks for it!!
All men everywhere should demand sedation during a Prostate Biopsy. Accept no less. Demand sedation -- unless you like knitting needles being inserted where the sun don’t shine -- and 15 samples (or more!) being extracted by a circle of eleven needles, from a place that does not usually have needles pricking it & poking it.
I think what makes me most furious is that in this day & age of instantaneous information available on the internet, the “sedation” option for a Prostrate biopsy is almost not there.
Almost not there? Far into one article the writer says, in a very vague way, “general anesthesia helps….but your insurance company might refuse to pay.’ Saying “general anesthesia helps’ sounds like saying that an aspirin might help a headache. No, no, no. General anesthesia obliterates all pain at time of contact (later you will feel some soreness). General anesthesia doesn’t just help, it annihilates all memory of the pain.
In Modern Times there should be an addition to the Doctor’s Motto: “If at all possible, inflict no pain,” should be added to “Above all do no harm.’
I really am furious at the state of affairs. Everyone needs to know that in the case of a Prostate biopsy (a very-very common procedure for older men), “There is no reason for pain in a modern, well equipped room.’
The situation, on the internet in England & Ireland, is even worse. I could not believe the words I read in almost the first article that popped up in Yahoo UK/Ireland: “By some accounts, a prostate biopsy hurts -- but not as much as you might think.” Liar. Complete liar. Many, many doctors (and others) have admitted it is painful, and recent research reveals that certain areas of the prostate are more sensitive to the extraction of a “pound of flesh” than other areas.
“Some doctors will take as many as 45 samples.” Oh my God. Forty five samples, and he has the gall to say, it hurts, but not as much as you might think.
The tone of this article makes me foam at the mouth: “ A prostate biopsy is a simple procedure…takes about 15 minutes…does not require any anesthesia.” It takes all my will power not to say, “Up yours 45 times with a knitting needle.”
On the internet in England, I find no mention of the use of any sedation or anesthesia. They want you to keep a stiff upper lip.
Maybe there are benefits to living in America. Please sing this lovely song along with me: “There is no reason…”