Postman Carries Burden of Prostate Problems for Too Long
Since 2001, Maximino “Max” Mares, a retired mailman of 32 years living in Idaho Falls, has experienced troubling prostate problems. Fifteen years ago, at 51 years old, Max’s urologist in Boise suspected he might have prostate cancer, but after several sessions of extremely uncomfortable biopsies, the final report indicated “suspicious cells, but not cancerous.”
Max was relieved to hear this news, but for five more years he suffered in silence as his immediate urges to urinate grew worse. When going to the movies or shopping, it became routine for him to have to locate the bathrooms not knowing when he’d get the urge. He also began waking up more often at night to urinate.
“I felt like I had become the best bathroom recon in the world,” Max said. “I started losing more sleep and was tired during the day. This started to take a psychological toll on me.”
Having had enough, in 2006, Max sought out another urologist who performed a TURP or “transurethral resection of the prostate.” Using a scope placed through the urethra, this operative procedure involves cutting away the obstructing prostate tissue in order to improve urine flow and relieve enlarged prostate symptoms.
“This seemed like the only solution at the time, but I kind of wish I’d never done it,” Max said. “I spent several days in the hospital as my prostate continued to bleed excessively after surgery. Also, because of how large my prostate was, it helped for only a few years, then all of my enlarged prostate symptoms returned.”
Feeling like there was no hope, Max painfully lived with his enlarged prostate for seven more years. He’d wake up at least three or four times at night to urinate, had an intermittent urine flow (starting and stopping), had a weak urine stream, which made it difficult to urinate, and he always had the feeling that his bladder hadn’t fully emptied. All these symptoms made him feel as though he always had to use the bathroom.
Unfortunately, Max had painful kidney stones and other kidney issues during the summer of 2016. He even had to go to the emergency room in Idaho Falls for care. He also realized that he had to find another urologist because his quality of life was deteriorating. When he called two urologists in Idaho Falls, the first one couldn’t see him for three months, the second for two months.
Shortly after scheduling an appointment with one of those urologists and reluctantly resigning himself to suffering through two more painful and sleepless months, he saw a television commercial for David Sisul, MD, urologist at Bingham Memorial Urology. Max immediately called and scheduled an appointment. Eight days later he saw Dr. Sisul in clinic.
Dr. Sisul performed a variety of tests to ensure something else wasn’t causing Max’s symptoms. However, after performing a digital exam, Dr. Sisul confirmed Max did in fact have an enlarged prostate, and he had a solution.
“As men age, their prostate often grows in size, and, as it grows outward, it also begins to obstruct the urethra, making it harder for the bladder to empty,” Dr. Sisul said.
“In all of my past experiences with other urologists, they’d come into the room and maybe spend five minutes with me,” Max said. “But Dr. Sisul spent almost an hour with me and he recommended that I have a simple prostatectomy.” This requires the surgical removal of the inside of the prostate for urinary symptom relief. It’s like removing the core and pulp of an apple and leaving the skin.
“He even took out his phone and showed me a video of how he would perform the surgery with the assistance of a robot,” Max said. “It was really cool. I feel like most other doctors would have said, ‘well, you have to have surgery’ and would leave the room.”
“Bingham Memorial Hospital has the da Vinci Surgical System, which is a vast improvement over the laparoscopic instruments that have bridged the gap between the traditional scalpel days and robotic surgery,” Dr. Sisul explained. “With this state-of-the-art robotic technology, surgeons have at their disposal a bevy of advantages only dreamed of a little over a decade ago.”
Robotic surgeries are minimally invasive procedures that involve using multiple keyhole-sized incisions through the abdomen. The surgeon controls instruments using the 3-D viewing system and the robotic arms. These procedures allow for shorter hospital stays, less blood loss, less pain and, ultimately, a faster recovery.
At the beginning of September, Max went to Bingham Memorial Hospital in Blackfoot to have his robotic simple prostatectomy.
“I had the best experience at such a small hospital,” Max said. “They have the same technology as other hospitals in the area, but they treat you like family, too. Everyone was so nice, it just blew me away. From the housekeeping staff and the people who delivered my meals to the nurses and the CNAs. It was just top notch!”
“I couldn’t have been in better hands with Dr. Sisul,” Max said. “He’s so knowledgeable and took the time to explain things to me every step of the way. Working with him, he was more of a friend than a doctor. He took the time to really get to know me, and I learned that we both like to fly fish. He’s down to earth and always asked me if I had any questions. He’s just a great, thoughtful guy.”
During one of Dr. Sisul’s visits with Max prior to being discharged from the hospital, he said to Max, “You’ll be getting a call when you get home.”
Dr. Sisul had taken upon himself to contact Max’s insurance companies—Medicare and Blue Cross—and got Encompass Home Health (covered by Medicare) involved. Because Max didn’t have any family, Dr. Sisul wanted to make sure that during his recovery, medical professionals visited him to check-up on his progress. His insurance covered medical visits twice a week for two weeks, then weekly.
“The fact that Dr. Sisul did that completely shocked me,” Max said. “I would never have known having home-assisted healthcare was an option. Most doctors wouldn’t have taken the time to organize that.”
After having a simple prostatectomy, the recovery time is on average about four weeks. The bladder has to heal and return to its normal size and function because it’s spent so much time overcompensating.
Finally, after receiving sub-par medical treatments for more than 15 years, Max is no longer carrying the heavy burden of an enlarged prostate. He’s sleeping much better, only getting up once during the night, and has a lot more energy to finally enjoy his retirement. “At 66 years old, I never knew I could feel this good and normal again,” Max said. “I’m so grateful for finding Dr. Sisul and having this procedure. He changed my life.”
David M. Sisul, MD, see patients in Idaho Falls and Blackfoot
Dr. Sisul is a highly-trained urologist at Bingham Memorial Urology. His focus is in using the latest in minimally invasive technology, most notably the da Vinci robotic system and GreenLight laser therapy, for urologic disease management. His main interests lie in prostate cancer, enlarged prostates, and male sexual dysfunction (impotence). Additionally, he manages disorders of the full urologic spectrum, including bladder and kidney cancer, kidney stones, incontinence, urinary tract infections, and voiding dysfunction.