First of all, I should let you know that this post deals with adult issues. But don’t get your hopes up.
I’m recovering well. I’m in much less pain and my robot holes are already getting hard to find. My first post-op PSA is on Wednesday, March 9th. Really, most of the other tests up until now have been about predicting the outcome of that test. If there is no detectable PSA then I’m okay until the next test in a few months.
I’m still a little swollen, a little sore, and I’m low on energy. I’m still not allowed to lift anything (like Twinlets, for example) but I’m planning to return to work on Monday. Fortunately I’m a programmer so I sit for a living. I can do that at work about as well as I do at home.
I do have one new problem that may cause trouble at work, though.
I am a man who is comfortable hearing and talking about women’s private parts. That’s not the problem, but it’s related to the problem. I didn’t start out so uninhibited. Up through my twenties I would become very uncomfortable at the mention of “female issues”. Then came the human sexuality psych classes, which included details of all the parts and the roles they play. It wasn’t as exciting as you might think. Once orgasms are broken down into chemical reactions and diagrams, the mood is pretty much broken.
My major desensitization to female bodily functions, as for many men, came with the births of our children. When our first child was born and we went through the prenatal classes and appointments, I slowly became used to talking about pregnancy-related subjects. In fact it was pretty much all Sarah and I could talk about for a while. We must have been a little frightening to the squeamish.
After our first child was born and Sarah was out of commission, the pregnancies were outsourced to two gestational surrogates. I had to get past my previous boundary of injecting my wife with hypodermic needles. Sticking Sarah with needles had not been allowed before, and all of a sudden I was supposed to be an expert. I was also supposed to be comfortable with being led to a little room as if it was a dressing room at The Gap, but instead of khakis to try on I was given a little plastic cup (I actually remained terribly embarrassed by that part of the process). Most importantly I had to get used to experiencing pregnancy and childbirth with women with whom I had friendly but not intimate relationships. The surrogates were entitled to their privacy but those were my kids in there so conversational lines got blurry.
The result of all that is I’m not one of those men who blanches when caught in a conversation among women about female issues. They’ll sometime apologize, saying “I’m sure Scott doesn’t want to hear this,” but then I’ll join in with stories of my own. If I’m not careful I might even make some new moms blanch. Having experienced pregnancy three times with three different women, I’ve got some stories of my own.
As I’ve been thinking about returning to work, it occurred to me that my recent preoccupation with prostate cancer may have broken down my sense of what male parts and functions are okay to talk about. Suddenly urinary continence and erectile function and all the private boy parts are regular topics of conversation. Most of my adult interactions, in fact, have been with medical professionals who want me to talk about such things.
I’m hoping to rejoin the non-prostate-cancer-focused world in the coming week, but I’m worried: Can I re-learn what is appropriate and not appropriate to discuss? Will I make others uncomfortable? I’m concerned I might have a conversation like this:
Coworker: How are you today, Scott?
Scott: Great! My [body part] was really [adjective] this morning even without [pharmaceutical product]!
Coworker: I’m going to HR.
Or . . .
But I’m looking forward to giving it a try. I just wanted to warn everyone: If you haven’t been living through prostate cancer (or pregnancy) for the last few months, brace yourself. I’m a changed man.