Martin Baum explains how an MS-induced UTI may actually have been a fortunate thing
The conversation with my sister went as follows, “This morning I had urodynamic testing on my bladder. In a couple of weeks, I'll be going into hospital for a prostate biopsy to check the status of a nodule and, at the same time, to have a prostate rebore, also known as a HoLEP procedure, to remove a lobe which is blocking my bladder.”
That was a conversation I never thought I would have, but then, to paraphrase Forest Gump, “Multiple sclerosis (MS) is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.” Ironic, really, that after living with this condition for 40 years I thought I totally had the measure of it. I wasn’t even close.
This whole rigmarole began in May after I contracted a urinary tract infection (UTI) which triggered a series of events that led to a scan and, ultimately, an appointment to see the urologist. An MRI confirmed I was retaining more than I was expelling from my bladder, which led to me having a urodynamic assessment to test the flow and spasms of the muscle in the wall of my bladder.
While the prostate element is as unrelated to MS as it gets, after reading the results of the MRI scan, my urologist thought it wise to operate on the prostate and carry out a biopsy at the same time. This would enable him to not only analyse and, fingers crossed, rule out any potential cancer scenario, but also to remedy a long-time blocking of my bladder, which hitherto had always been put down to muscle spasms related to MS.
Up until this point I’d like to believe I have been fortunate in my relationship with MS. Despite the many varied symptoms I have had to endure, I know I have been spared from too much invasive meddling from doctors and neurologists, although I now consider myself to be a veteran of the prostate test, having had four inside one year. In these very strange Covid times, where we are constantly being told that “lessons have been learned”, I realised (and perhaps not for the first time) that I cannot blame MS for everything.
I cursed the blasted UTI when it came. It took several weeks for the antibiotics to neutralise it. But, because of it, come September – and yes, I’m counting down the weeks – I will finally be able to wee unimpeded. Also, the detection of a nodule that – had it been left undiscovered – could have multiplied into something more sinister and far greater, is enough to put MS in the shade.
The botty doctor, as I now affectionately call my urologist, is going to return a sense of normality to me. Also, what I consider to be good news – yes, there really was good news, well, to me, anyway – was being told that because of MS, my prostate will remain in situ, as removing it runs a high risk of incontinence. Oddly enough, given all I am about to undergo, knowing I was holding on to my prostate actually lifted my mood.
Yet I am under no illusion how painful this is going to be. No pain, no gain is an exercise motto for anyone who works out in a gym but, for the duration of my operation, and recovery, this is a saying I’ll be proudly (if not a little bravely) claiming as my own.
Read next: This supplement may benefit people with multiple sclerosis, new study finds