As a female, I do not have to deal directly with prostate issues, but I did have to support my father through his own prostate challenge. In February of 1986, Dad’s surgeon said the words we all hoped to never hear: “You need prostate surgery before things deteriorate.”
Although Dad was a vibrant seventy-year-old at the time, he feared surgery–the anesthesia, the cutting, the IV, the recovery. Yet his condition left him with no choice. He could not continue getting up every forty-five minutes to urinate in the middle of the night; he could not continue living with the fear that his prostate might become cancerous.
The surgery went well, but it had an effect that none of us expected.
Dad’s mother, my beloved grandmother–a woman who had never spent a day in the hospital during her ninety years of life–suddenly developed intense abdominal pain. Within twenty-four hours, she died. The distance to the funeral home, combined with the bumpiness of the country roads leading there, prevented Dad, still recovering from his prostate surgery, from attending his mother’s funeral. His surgery left him to mourn alone while Ma, my brother, and I paid our respects to Grandma.
A medical condition can have repercussions beyond the obvious. Dad returned to normalcy, once more slept through the night, and lived to the age of ninety-eight with only minor prostate problems. Yet he never forgave himself for missing his mother’s funeral, even though he had no control over how the timing transpired.
Dad’s only solace came from knowing that his mother was with him during his surgery and celebrated with him when his physician gave him the “all’s fine” diagnosis.