'Doctors Started To Refuse To Prescribe Me Anything'


Xavier's Story

I'm 40 and I live in France, not far from Paris. For several years I lived overseas, mostly in Asia, (I especially love Thailand and Indonesia). I still travel there each year so my wife can see her family, she’s from Pattani in the far south of Thailand. 

In April 2007 I was diagnosed with gonococcal urethritis. I was 27 years old. At the time I was with my long-time ex-girlfriend. One of the symptoms was a white discharge [from my penis]. I think it was gonorrhoea, however, the doctor never did a test so I cannot be 100 per cent sure. If it was gonorrhoea then my ex-girlfriend probably gave it to me from someone else. We were not very happy together. 

It was the first time I had such a sickness, and as such I didn't understand the reason for the itchy/burning feeling. I tried to forget about it for a few weeks but it didn't want to leave. The doctor prescribed seven days of ofloxacin, as I mention, without any lab tests. 

By the end of the treatment, several symptoms had vanished - the itching and discharge from the penis were gone - but I started to develop other symptoms - strange, deeper feelings; a mix of inflammation, burning and discomfort around the scrotum and anus. I was told by the same doctor it was probably in my head. I took a urine test and, yes, there was no bacteria. 

Unfortunately, the symptoms worsened and I sought help from other doctors. I soon realized they were not very helpful. I was prescribed antibiotics (from many different families). Most of the time I felt better when taking the antibiotics but I relapsed each time I finished a course.

After maybe ten-12 medical appointments, two years passed with countless prescriptions for antibiotics. Some doctors started to refuse to prescribe me anything. I was told I needed a psychologist. A few doctors said it might be non-bacterial prostatitis. 

Around 2010 I'd been seeing a urologist who decided to do an MRI on the prostate and surrounding organs (rectum, bladder etc.). The scan showed I had areas of echogenicity and calcifications. The doctor said it was probably ‘scars’ from an old bout of prostatitis.

After almost three years of guessing I was very happy to have proof that this problem was not only in my head. There was something physical. Unfortunately, I still suffered and the pain was bad. No doctors ever addressed the pain. Even to this day, I don't understand why.

At this time I was very depressed. The pain was strong and I’d separated from my ex-girlfriend.

I decided to quit everything and fly to Bangkok, Thailand.

Of course, my prostatitis followed me there... 

In Asia, antibiotics are available over the counter so I started to take them myself. Sometimes - when the pain was too much - I went to the hospital where they gave me a cocktail of strong antibiotics (gentamicin/amikacin...) and the steroid cortisone. Those cocktails helped a lot and I managed like this until 2013.

From 2007 and 2013, most of the time I relied on antibiotics. But in mid-2013, I had a serious reaction to an out-of-date oral cephalosporin. I caught clostridium difficile and I was forced to stop taking antibiotics. 

I decided to turn to other options and created a list of strict rules: 

- take natural supplements (quercetin, bromelain, nettle and pollen extract etc.),

- avoid sexual activities as much as possible (it was not fun for my wife). Also no masturbation.

- If I have sex, I’ll use a condom every time and

- drink water or tea as much as possible; three litres a day.

I still don't know how and why, but the pain completely disappeared after a few months.

Between 2014 and 2020, I had only two small bouts of infections, and I had fast and effective treatments. It was easier because I knew how to recognize the first symptoms. 

In 2015, I was dehydrated after a long-haul flight. In 2017, I was in Turkey, in a hot natural (but unhygienic) spring with lots of people. I developed infections and both incidents were treated successfully with ceftriaxone injections. 

In 2017, a urologist told me that a circumcision could help with recurrent infections and advised me to have one. He also performed a cystoscopy and saw that my bladder neck was very tight and my urine flow was weak. 

I had my circumcision but nothing was done for the bladder neck. The circumcision didn’t help with infections. However, it’s not something I regret. To be circumcised is more hygienic in daily life. It changed the feeling of sexual activities a little bit. For masturbation, let's say, it's more difficult and less fun so you tend to do it less often.

From this point on, I started to suspect my problem is caused by many different infections that sometimes turn into prostatitis when left untreated.

By March 2020, my problems were old stories compared to 2017 and I relaxed my rules. I stopped using condoms religiously, I drank less water and I stopped taking supplements. 

But one day after having sex without a condom, I had tension in the pelvic floor and I developed cloudy urine, but I ignored it. That tension turned into an episode of prostatitis.

In April, I contacted a clinic in Paris and had an appointment with a surgeon who offered to perform a TURP (resection of the bladder neck and prostate). I had been to see another urologist to have a second opinion. He told me more or less the same; a TURP could help. 

I started to dig around for information and I found that a TURP helped some people. It seems, in specific cases, a resection of the prostate and bladder neck could remove a breeding place of infection, a scar or a congenital issue and prevent prostatitis relapses. 

In my situation, no doctors were able to find the reason for these chronic urinary tract infections. We could only guess. Those guesses are as follows:

- a tight bladder neck,

- a weak urine flow; year-after-year it is more difficult to go toilet,

- stagnant urine in the urethra, 

- an intraprostatic reflux of urine,

- a utricle cyst (I’ve always had a small one and it could be a breeding place of infection),

- an ascending infection and 

- a weak immune system or disturbance (non-pathogenic bacterias create an immune response). 

Many - but not all - of these issues could be treated with a transurethral resection of the prostate (TURP)

On November 5, I had the TURP, and I caught a staph infection because of the catheter. I have finished my round of co-trimoxazole so we’ll see. 

My hope is, of course, this surgery will remove the reason for these infections. 

This was a tough decision but I think it’s worth trying.

UPDATE: 22/12/2020 

I'm still discovering the consequences of the TURP.  

I finished my antibiotic course one week ago. I still need to do a lab test to confirm the staph infection has gone.

I tried sex three to four times (with my wife and solo) and didn't ejaculate. There is no difference in the feeling of pleasure. The orgasm is the same. The sperm stays in the urethra or moves to the bladder then is passed in the urine. 

I haven't fully recovered yet. It's been one and a half months and I still feel my prostate was wounded by the knife of the surgeon. I have some painful spasms and emergencies (needing to rush the toilet). 

I also still have scabs, going out from time to time when I pee. I feel the 'skin' in the prostate portion of the urethra is very sensitive. Especially when the urine is concentrated. 

Since the surgery, I haven't taken painkillers. It is still too early to say the TURP has provided a definite solution for my prostatitis. I just have less pain than before at this point. 

The TURP seems to help to reduce the pain around the prostate but I feel I still could develop ascending infections. My urethra is still very sensitive. It might be because of the staph infection. 

The surgeon told me he focused on the bladder neck opening because it was very tight. Maybe the muscle was irritated there, and opening this area provided relief. He told me the prostate itself seemed healthy and small (but we know small prostates can be painful and large ones have no symptoms).

My concern is about the recurrence of infections. But only time will tell whether or not I'll have new episodes.

If you ask me: would you do a TURP again, the answer is yes, it's totally worth trying (in my situation).

Published on December 21, 2020

NAMES HAVE BEEN CHANGED TO PROTECT IDENTITY 

THIS STORY HAS BEEN EDITED FOR LENGTH AND CLARITY

IMAGE PROVIDED BY: Pixabay


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