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Behind the Headlines-10

Us TOO FLORENCE - BEHIND THE HEADLINES-10
BY BOB HORNEY - PROSTATE CANCER SURVIVOR - Us TOO CHAPTER LEADER
(Published June 11, 2014, The Siuslaw News)
(Also found under PERSONAL JOURNEYS - Surgery - Open - Anonymous Part 2)

As we left our patient last month, following his radical prostatectomy in San Diego to eliminate his prostate cancer, he had been through five additional surgeries in a matter of a couple years, all trying to resolve his intermittent urinary blockage. After undergoing six surgeries total, he was hoping that surgery by Dr. Mehlhaff had solved his obstruction problems; indeed it had, but not without a surprise. He continues...
My symptoms changed from not being able to go, to not being able to stop. A combination of Dr. Mehlhaff's surgery which corrected the obstruction part along with my weakened sphincter which could not resist my MS bladder's contractions now meant I had become totally incontinent.
Noting my problem, one of Dr. Mehlhaff's colleagues, Dr. Dawn Bodell, thought a Medtronics Implant might help resurrect my bladder - so back into the operating room for the temporary implant (minor procedure). After two weeks it was apparent that it wasn't helping so back into the operating room (minor procedure) to have it removed.
At this point in time I needed to take a break from doctors, hospitals and all the things associated with my problems.
I wore pads in my shorts, wet everything I slept in, ruined a couch, a few pillows and a host of other stuff. I couldn't go 30 minutes without feeling like I had to urinate and was, for all practical purposes, incontinent - I was miserable! I tried using a condom catheter - oh boy was that a joy, especially when it was full or came loose.
Then I tried a penile clamp - a device right out of the middle ages - the Spanish Inquisition, I suspect. I managed to go an entire year with it - my life consisted of knowing where I could find the next bathroom. I must be some kind of Superman.
Finally, in January 2004, I elected to have the Diversion Surgery. When Dr. Mehlhaff asked me whether I wanted the Chevy or the Cadillac version I went for the Cadillac, I'd been a Cadillac man my entire life. The surgery is called "Indiana Continent Urinary Diversion." About 6 inches of small intestine along with the ileocecal valve is connected to a stoma in my belly-button and the other end is connected to about 16 inches of large intestine that is made into a bladder. The ureters from the kidneys are then attached to the new bladder.
Seventeen days in Sacred Heart hospital, 477 minutes (3 minutes short of 8 hours) in surgery, months and months of recovery and moments of sheer terror and fear of the unknown and here I am. It's now been over 10 years and more than ten thousand times catheterizing myself through my new belly-button stoma and I haven't had one problem.
To Doctor Mehlhaff - It is really hard to find the words that truly express my gratitude. I know you went the extra mile during my surgery (maybe an extra couple of miles) - the results speak for themselves. Also, during the many hospital and office visits, your care, concern, and honesty were extraordinary. I don't know how many of your patients realize or value your great skill as a physician, surgeon, and human being, but I wanted to put in writing that my wife and I certainly do. So, here's a warm and hearty thank you for all you have done for me and giving me back my life. (End of story to date, but LIFE goes on).
My friend and fellow prostate cancer survivor pulls together the thoughts of every Us TOO Florence participant when describing what Dr. Mehlhaff means to us - compassionate physician, skillful surgeon and, above all else, a very caring human being. We join my friend in stating our sincere appreciation and thanks to Dr. Mehlhaff. As my friend states, finding the right words to describe what Dr. Mehlhaff means to us is difficult, but let's just say that it doesn't get any better than having a true prostate cancer expert (Dr. Mehlhaff) providing our care!

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