Time to post something personal, time to reveal my continued lifelong struggles with pelvic and back pain. Thing is, I’m a fighter, and will never stop fighting.
A few weeks I got asked on twitter by one of my friends on there, as to why I don’t blog about other stuff apart from doing book reviews? My answer was that I wasn’t sure what other topics to talk about. Deep down though I knew this was an excuse of sorts. I have loads of things I could write about(Mum is always saying I should have written a book by now), problem is many are still quite raw and depressing to discuss. Nevertheless, I’ve decided I want to reveal part of my secret self to the wider world in the form of this blog. I also hope my revelations find some comfort to some men out there who have gone through or are still going through a similar thing. If I asked you now what CHRONIC BACTERIAL PROSTATITIS IS…………… you will more than likely not have have a clue and look back at me dumbfounded, thus this is why I have to write this blog.
Apart from getting type one Diabetes aged seventeen, life up to being twenty-one hadn’t been too bad. Then at the start of my second year at Uni, my Father suddenly died. The funeral was obviously horrific and I can remember around this time needing to go to wee a lot, but at the time never thought much about it…I was in the depths of grieving afterall. Nevertheless, I can distinctly remember my Mum asking the Priest for me, if I could possibly use the toilet before the funeral service? Looking back this is my first memory of things not being quite right regarding my water works. I had no idea at this point what awful episodes were about to follow.
I go back to Uni to re-do my second year and I was becoming really, really unwell. It hurt every time I went to urinate.I noticed after eating say a chocolate bar or fizzy drink this would bring on great pain in my genitals and would prompt me afterwards to urinate very suddenly. Distressingly, I noticed ejaculating made my bladder and pain symptoms much worse. It reached the point where I felt the urge to urinate about every five to ten minutes, I just couldn’t stop wanting to go and when I did it really hurt. After about ten trips to my University Doctors and an awful experience where a lady GP asked me, ‘if I was getting obsessed with my bits’, I finally got diagnosed with a condition called Chronic Bacterial Prostatitis. I’d never ever heard of it before and it took me about about 4 weeks to even learn how to pronounce it correctly. In layman’s terms, this meant I had an E.Coli of the prostate gland. The infection had given me an irritable bladder for life I was told, but this can be controlled by tablets. It had not been passed on to me via intercourse, so I was bewildered how I could have contracted this horrific condition.
My life was in bits. I had to drop out of Uni again and move back home as I went into hospital to have the initial diagnosis confirmed, and to rule out prostate cancer(the symptoms are v similar apparently). To my great relief the cystoscopy confirmed that I DID NOT have prostate cancer, but sadly all the inflammation confirmed I did indeed have prostatitis. Slowly but surely the bladder tablets began to work(Detrusitol) which helped dampen down the false muscle urges for me to go to the toilet, and I was soon targeting soon going back to Uni. I was also recommended a supplement called Quercetin which is nature’s most powerful natural anti-inflammatory. I therefore went back to my studies but had to drop out and go back a further three or four times because the prostate infections kept coming back. Every time the infections came back, it floored me because they were preventing me from me reaching my dream………….which was to Graduate. Even when I was infection free life was tough at times. Post infection, I was left with this pain to my right pelvic region, just below my hip. The doctors at the hospitals were useless because they just seemed interested in prostate cancer, so in many ways I was left just to put up with it. My prime goal was getting my degree, so whilst all my mates at Uni were having rumpy bumpy with various people, I could not allow myself to go down this avenue due to the pain sexual intercourse would cause me. Numerous times I was asked if I was gay due to not having a girlfriend. I felt like screaming from the rooftops, ‘NO, IT’S BECAUSE MY BITS ARE TOO BLOODY SORE’….I kind of felt emasculated for ten years. Finally though I did Graduate I’m pleased to say, I had not let the prostatitis and pelvic pain ruin my dream.
After University and I had more time on my hands, I was determined to try and get to the bottom as to why I was left with this achy pelvis, post the prostatitis. Then disaster struck, I started getting very bad pains near where my old hernia repair/op had been. I was concerned I had done my hernia again so went to see my old hernia surgeon. After having an MRI scan I was left flabbergasted. No new hernia was revealed, rather the scan had found I had a slipped vertebrate in my lumbar spine. The official diagnosis/terminology was a SPONDYLOLISTHESIS, grade 1/2, with possible nerve compression. The latter could explain the recent onset of sciatica down my left leg I had been experiencing. I spent the next two years on hospital waiting lists, waiting for more scans, cortisone steroid injections, almost agreeing to spinal surgery. At this point I just wanted an op to correct the spondy, not realizing at the time people don’t really have operations for this. It was only when I saw a private physio about my situation, did I then I put a halt to having a spinal operation(for the lower leg pain). He had a theory my issues were more pelvic related and I thought he might be right.
So, after a delay I finally tracked down a Specialist Pelvic Floor Physio called Stephanie Knight, at Airedale NHS Hospital. As far as pelvic floor physios go, she really is the ‘bees knees’ as the saying goes. She is trained in Pelvic Floor Trigger Release Therapy(not many in the UK are sadly) and put me in touch with a physio also trained in this who treats nearer to where I lived. The physio is called Sue Hallam and instantly made me feel at ease when first meeting her. The therapy is a very invasive and unpleasant thing to have done, however afterwards it really helped and made things easier(it relaxes the tight pelvic floor muscles). I also starting seeing a private muscoskeletal physio who recommended I see her to realign my pelvis from the outside, and Sue to start relaxing my pelvic floor from the inside….sounded like a good plan to me. It felt great to have finally started to address my long standing pelvic pain issues. Over the next 24 months I saw a whole range of medical manual therapists. eg Chiropractors, physios, Osteopaths etc. The consensus being that due to the prostate infection, I was/am suffering with a tilted pelvis/pelvic girdle pain. I had Sacroiliac Joint Pain, Pubic bone pain, and had this awfully distressing symptom of a burning anus feeling(due to my pelvic floor being too tight). Then an important diagnosis was made, a new physio thought a main issue I had was to do with my right ILIOPSOAS muscle being inactive and too tight. It is a major muscle, responsible for flexing your hip joint. It therefore corresponded that I found it really hard and painful to lift up my right leg. I was just about to start therapy for this when disaster struck again……..I was diagnosed with GALLSTONES.
Have gallstones taken out but weeks later I’m still feeling nauseous, still feeling a soreness to my lower right ribs, my right shoulder still hurts. The only thing that went post gallbladder surgery was the acute pain to the top of my right shoulder(near the cuff). I wasted twelve months then investigating if something had gone wrong following the gallbladder surgery, all scans proved negative. In a final hope and worried sick what was wrong with me, I saw my old muscoskeletal physio again. She took one look and feel of me and said straight away that my ribs were stuck/locked, thus also explaining the shoulder pain. Problem was, she insisted I did exercises that hurt my iliopsoas area, so I had to stopped seeing her.
In the last six months I went to see an Osteopath who again to my relief took me seriously and really wanted to try and help me. She was convinced my right iliopsoas muscle is too tight, enough to suggest I could have a condition called iliopsoas bursitis. She was also concerned that as my last back scan was done in 2009, she wondered if it could have got worse…the spondylolisthesis and thus its sumptoms. She also did not like the fact that certain symptoms have arisen or been made worse, since having my gallbladder out.eg tiredness, little energy, lack of libido etc. After we discussed it further we agreed I should try and get more up-to-date scans done. Something clearly isn’t right. It hurts my right groin,pelvic area and iliopsoas area to put weight on my right side. I’m unable to drive, exercise, walk a small distance without it really hurting and feeling inflammation. I used to be a gym-nut ten years ago, it’s so distressing to feel stuck like this and be unable to do the many things I’d like to do. I am also unable to take anti-inflammatory medication because many tablets and foods sting my rib area inside and make me feel very nauseous. Without anti-inflammatory meds I’m thus unable to do any physio strengthening exercises which are painful, so it feels like I’m stuck between the devil and the deep blue sea at the moment. I’ve also had people suggest to me that it’s partly in my imagination, this rib pain and nausea. I swear I will confront these folk head-on once something is found. Although, I guess I am petrified nothing will be found. THERE IS DEFINITELY SOMETHING WRONG WITH ME and it goes beyond the realms of just undetectable chronic pain.
After a young GP suggested the scans were pretty pointless, I persisted and saw an Assessor Physiotherapist at my local NHS hospital a few weeks ago. I was really scared he’d just dismiss my concerns, think my Osteopath was talking aload of balderdash and tell me to go away without offering me any help. Instead, to my great relief and somewhat surprise , this physio guy was really understanding. After examining me he said he agreed and on March 10th I am having MRI scans of both my Lumbar Spine and pelvis. On top of that, I shortly have to have blood tests done of my liver and kidneys to see if anything is found there too. He is then ringing me up on March 26th with results. I’m sooooooo nervous what the next few weeks hold in store for me. Nevertheless, I am so desperate for the ‘old Andy’ to reappear once more. I need these scans to show something, I need this to finally be the year where I start to get on top of this headache in my pelvis and back.