Monthly Archives: November 2011

Movember Update IV – The Other Prostate Test


As part of Movember, we’re talking about Men’s Health issues on Roaddave.  We’ve covered the low hanging fruit and given you the background on why you have a prostate, what it does and why you need a PSA test on a regular basis.  This update is on the Other Prostate test:  The one that isn’t a blood test, a digital test.

Digit, as in finger, not zeros and ones digital.  Somewhere after the age of 40 (some doctors say 50, others somewhere in between) a digital test of the prostate will become part of your yearly medial check up.   

Your doctor will insert a gloved and well-lubricated finger in your asshole and palpate your prostate.  Palpate means poke at it and press on it.  Without resorting to surgery, there is no other way to get at your prostate unless you use the bodily orifices available.  Being men, we have a grand total of one that is in the neighbourhood of the prostate.  You can’t get at the prostate to palpate it via a nostril or ear.          

The sensation of having the prostate digitally examined is no worse than taking a five-pound dump after a night of bad Mexican food, or going to a Brazilian restaurant and eating until you get the meat sweats.  Honestly.  We’ve all had those mornings on the toilet when we vow to God that we will chew our food better and a digital exam is no worse.  

What the doc is looking for is abnormal size, or malformation of the prostate itself.  Your doc isn’t doing this for giggles or to humiliate you.  If you have a swollen prostate, you will scream like a little girl when the doc palpates it.  That doesn’t mean you have cancer, it only means something is wrong. 

You can get a swollen prostate from too much self-pleasuring, or in some men, bike riding.  Think about where the bicycle seat sits on your body:  Can you get a bruised prostate?  Prostatic inflammation from those kinds of activities is harmless goes away after a couple of days of rest.      

A good, caring, doc will have you lie on one side and have you bring one knee up to your chest for a digital exam.  An army-trained doctor will have you bend over the examining table and say “Hang on to your hat!”  I’ve had both and the knee up is much easier.

Yes, you might spring a Hollywood half-loaf totally without intention.  Pressure on the prostate can trigger a drop or two of urine, or a mild, momentary erection, no worse than a morning piss-hard and no more useful either.  The prostate is covered with the very same pelvic floor muscles that contract when you have an orgasm and cause you to ejaculate by giving the prostate a good, hard squeeze.  It’s perfectly normal as the systems are all interrelated and your doc has seen it before.  

Or, absolutely nothing will happen:  It varies from human to human.

Odds are 50-50 you’ll fart.  I asked and my doc and she (Yes, my GP is a female) said she’s been farted at so many times doing prostate exams that it’s now beyond disgusting and merely funny. 

No, it is not appropriate to load up on jalapeno nachos, cabbage soup, beer and beans the night before your prostate exam.  Yes your doc will clean up any excess lubricant afterwards, but you might feel a little icky around the orf.  Deal with it.   

A digital prostate exam does not make you suddenly want to sing show tunes, or find the beauty in old Judy Garland movies.  Sorry guys, it doesn’t.  Your sexual orientation is between your ears, in the brain, not between the legs in your asshole or prostate.         

It’s not a comfortable sensation, but it is insanely important to have done.  The prostate doesn’t give many clues that it is unwell and a PSA in combination with a digital exam is the best way to determine your prostate health.

To sum up.  Your prostate helps keep your participation in the fornicative and procreative arts alive.  The prostate doesn’t kick up a fuss when it is unwell, so there are no symptoms to speak of.  A PSA blood test in combination with a digital examination is the best way to find out if things are in good order.  As we all know, early detection of problems means a better outcome.

If you want to learn more, www.ca.movember.com has links to Prostate Cancer Canada and several dozen other very good resources.  Of course, you can always donate to our Movember team, here, to change the face of Men’s Health. 

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Movember Update III – Prostate 101


As part of Movember, we’re talking about Men’s Health issues.  We’ve covered the low-hanging fruit, but now, very specifically, we’re talking prostate.  Hands up those who know where it is and what it does?  Hmmm.  Not so good.  As expected, most men know we have one, but not necessarily what the damn thing does.  By the way, we will be frank and use common terms, so get over it.

It is a bit-bigger-than-a-walnut sized gland below your bladder and North-North-West of your asshole.  About an inch inside your body, more or less, straight up from the middle of your taint.  (Taint, or chode, or gooch depending on where you’re from – perineum for those of a medical mind, or that space between Yay and Nay)    

It’s a fascinating little gland and here’s what it does:  Your prostate secretes a slightly alkaline fluid that is about 25 to 30 percent of your semen.  Not the sperm themselves, as that’s a nut job, pun intended, but the seminal vesicles pass up from the nuts via the vas deferens to the prostate and mix together to pass down your penis when you pop your cookies from watching “The Golden Girls”  in reruns. (That Rue McClanahan…what a minx! Oh crap, that was out loud wasn’t it?)

The reason the prostatic fluid is slightly alkaline is to give your sperm a fighting chance in the Great Swim of Life. The vagina is acidic, so a bit of alkali lets the lads live longer, leading to fertilization, “was it good for you?” right up to “Yes Dad, it’s a really nice Home and we’ll come to visit you every weekend; we promise.”

The Creator did great, nay, fabulous work when He built Woman, but Jeeze Louise, male parts were not His best work:  The design is merely functional, like reproductive organs designed by Ikea.  It’s part of a system, but the illustrations are cartoon sketches and the instructions were written in Swedish, translated to Belgian, then Farsi, into Xhosa and finally English.  

There are enough maladies that can befall the prostate that entire medical careers are built on it.  It’s a very poor design, almost as bad as the knee, but at least the knee will stop working or swell up if you injure it.  The prostate just sits there like a walnut, asking itself “Am I Coming or am I Going?”  By the time a prostate is unwell enough to have symptoms, you could be in trouble.   

There are two ways to check the prostate:  The first, we’ll cover in this post.  It is called a Prostate Specific Antigen test, or PSA Test.  The PSA is a blood test, taken from blood from your arm. The lab folks look for an increased level of Prostate antigen, a chemical that indicates a fine, healthy, happy, prostate or an unhappy prostate depending on the change between tests.

Around the age of 40 to 45, men should have a PSA test yearly. Some docs say 50, other say 40, but what you want to do is start early enough that you know what your PSA level is over a few years.  Mine’s normal, around 0.01 which indicates no issues with increased antigen production.  If the numbers change from test to test, see your doctor.  A change in the PSA is an early warning that something is not right and needs further investigation. A PSA test is not a diagnosis.  

There are issues with the PSA test, both false positives and false negatives.  There are also issues with, in the female department, PAP (Papanicolaou) tests, again false positives and false negatives.  The usual protocol (be it PSA or PAP) is to repeat the test if the results are wonky, which is only sensible.         

Up until 2009, you had to pay separately for a PSA test when you had your blood work done:  It was usually $15.  Now most health care covers it, so ask for it when you go to the doctor.  Have the discussion.  Your doc might not consider it important at your age, or, your doc might offer it.  We’ll vote for asking for it as having a baseline result over a couple of years is a good thing.  A PSA test hurts as much as having your blood taken hurts.  Instead of four vials, they’ll take five vials.  It is not a big thing. 

Having a known PSA baseline is part of early detection. And we will repeat:  A PSA Test isn’t a diagnosis, it just flags something for more investigation.

The second test we’ll cover in excruciating detail next week.

We Go Mo! – Movember Update II


(Caution:  For those of you with bladder control issues, we will discreetly suggest that this post contains a photo of my moustache at 11 days.  If that means you have to read while seated on the sanitary facilities, because you are likely to piss yourself laughing, then consider this fair warning.)

 

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As promised, I am now going to hit you up for money.  Movember asks its participants to raise money for Prostate Cancer Canada by doing two things.  The first is growing some kind of moustache.  The second is asking for donations from people we know. 

This link, leads to the BoC-ITS-Ops Movember page.  Or you can enter http://www.movember.com/m/2550192 in a browser:  Either will get you there.  On that page you can donate to the team of co-workers who are doing exactly the same thing I am to raise money and awareness.  You could donate to them, the team or me.  It is your choice and we thank you, very much, for your help.

A 100% Face-Grown, Hand-Brushed Mo is my contribution to Movember.  Other members of the team are working on some truly debonair examples of the facial flora arts and they might well post pictures of their work.

If you have a male of the species in your life, you should consider supporting Movember.

This has been the fourth year I have sprouted a Mo for Movember. My sweetie puts up with me looking like I’ve escaped from a Village People open audition, or have been infected with some kind of hairy fungus.

If you don’t want to donate for me, donate for her, as she is tolerating this fur clump on my face for 30 days. I wouldn’t suggest that she is counting the days, but I do see the calendar in her office has big red X’s through each day, but only in the month of November. Thank you sweetie!

Remembrance Day


Every November 11th we take two minutes at the 11th hour to remember those who have fallen in service of their country.  There is a moving ceremony at the National War Memorial here in Ottawa, with dignitaries placing wreaths, the Ottawa School Board choir singing and the playing of Taps.  After the ceremonies, the veterans march past, some with walkers, some in wheelchairs, but many in step as befits their station as veterans proud of their service. 

The heart-wrenching part of the whole service is during the two-minutes silence.  Cameras pan from face to face, as the veterans reflect on those who cannot be there.  You see the remembrance in their eyes:  They’re playing back the memories of the comrades they knew, many whose lives ended in grisly, horrendous ways during events far away.

Those veterans have seen things that we are fortunate to never have experienced.  Be it Kandahar, Medak, Cyprus, Kapyong, Villiers Bocage, Vimy or some obscure grid reference in the middle of the Atlantic, over Peenemunde,Valetta, Kanggye, or Baghdad, they were there.

They were there so we wouldn’t have to be.  So we would never have to see the things they remember, the sorrows flashing behind their eyes as the camera slowly pans from face to face during those poignant and painful two minutes of remembrance.

There is nothing we can say to veterans except to acknowledge what they did.

Thank You.

Andy Rooney– The Last Real Reporter?


Most of us know Andy Rooney from his endpieces on 60 Minutes, CBS’s long-running news show on Sunday nights.  Rooney would expound on some topic that tweaked him that week, be it canned goods, doors or politics.  On occasion he crossed the line and got his butt suspended, but overall, he tried to bring some kind of enlightenment to the world around us. 

Rooney was one of the first six WWII correspondents who flew with the Eighth Air Force on their second bombing run over Germany in 1943.  He was also one of the first journos to visit a concentration camp during the invasion of Germany, as well as being one of the first to enter Paris during the liberation of 1944.  Like Walter Cronkite, or Harry Reasoner, he was a reporter, who went places and told the story of what he found, trying to put things in perspective for us regular folks.

Which leads us to the question; who does that now?  Where are the old school reporters who take the time to investigate, think, then present?  As best as can be determined, Rooney was the last of them who had legitimate journalistic chops.  Today’s crop of talking heads are nothing more than meat puppets whose sole existence depends on someone else putting words in their mouths, using the IFB line to make their jaws move and their brows furrow at appropriate times. 

Yes, they can get their approximate facts somewhere near truthiness, but the talking heads are unwilling to give us perspective.  As an exercise this morning, we watched three news networks cover the same story:  Greece political instability as regards the European Common Market. 

The story has a number of facets:  First, if Greece pulls out the EU and returns to the drachma, then a likely result would be the bankrupting of just about every business in Greece as well as most levels of government.  Business loans were done in Euros, not drachmas, so every loan would have to be recalculated on how many drachmas to the Euro?  Nobody knows, but you can be assured it won’t the favourable to the business that took out the loan.  Banks could rightly claim their loans are now due and payable.  Greece doesn’t have that kind of cash sitting around loose, be it in dollars, drachmas or dinars.  On paper Greece is already upside down, so pulling out of the EU would accelerate the process. 

Secondly, if Greece does take a fiscal leap into the unknown, what happens to the EU?  Italy is borrowing money at payday loan rates to stay afloat.  Rumour has it that they’ve already sold Milan and Turin to Rick Harrison of Pawn Stars.  Italian PM Berlusconi only got $2,500 for Milan and $2,200 for Turin.  Chumlee is going to be mayor of Milan and The Old Man is going to run Turin in a future episode. 

Would Germany and France, the two big wallets of the EU put up with Greece and then Italy going under?  Or, would Merkel and Sarkozy toss everyone under the bus with a hearty “Thanks for playing European Economic Union:  We gone!” 

That leaves most of the banks in the world holding big bags of worthless debt that they can’t recover and can’t write off because the world banking industry doesn’t have that kind of money either.  It would make the Great Depression look like you inadvertently blue-boxed an empty stubby, instead of taking it back to the Beer Store for the 5 cent refund.  Think Weimar Republic kind of global inflation.   

But the story on all three news outlets covers none of this.  There isn’t even a hint that the EU is in deep trouble.  All we see is the same repeated 45 second clip of the Greek parliament voting to create a new coalition party under Papandreou and applauding.  There’s no context, no appreciation of how far-reaching these problems could be and no sense of the future impact of Greece going under.  Just the same clip, over and over again.

He may have been crusty, a curmudgeon and quite possibly out of touch, but Andy Rooney would have made sure we understood that the stories we face today are important and will have an effect on our lives to come.   

Movember Update I – Men’s Health with Air Quotes


There is more to Movember than just growing a moustache and here’s one of those things.

The high concept behind Movember is Men’s Health and the lack of interest and knowledge about what can be loosely called Men’s Health issues.  There are plenty of events and knowledge promoting women’s health:  Breast Cancer awareness, Run for the Cure, various medical tests and so on. 

Men don’t talk about their health, specific to the parts we don’t have in common with women.  To paraphrase Spike Lee; It’s a Man Thing, You Wouldn’t Understand.  We were and are brought up to tough it out, no matter what.  If a javelin is stuck through our head, we might consider seeing the doctor, but only because we’re having trouble getting through the revolving door at the office, or can’t get into the cab of the forklift.

Men absolutely will not, even under interrogation, admit to anything being abnormal, unwell or strange below the belt.  We don’t discuss it, we don’t ask our men friends any questions about the goods and we will not tell our doctors about anything that might be off.  It’s all perfect, wonderful, fully operational, potent, big and robust.

Which is utter bullshit.

The penis, testicles and prostate are as susceptible to medical problems as any other human body part, male or female.  Cancer, inflammation, injury, decrease in operational effectiveness and so on are all just as prevalent in men, but being men, we’ll never admit it.  Which is why Movember exists:  Men should talk about it, and do what they can to prevent or find out about the afflictions that can potentially kill us.

As an informal survey here:  How many men check their testicles on a regular basis for swelling, tenderness or abnormal growths?  Hands up please?  That would be none, as best as I can see from here.

You remember Tom Green?  Ex-husband of Drew Barrymore and one-time funny man?  He lost a testicle to cancer because he didn’t check his junk on a regular basis.       

We were never taught or told that yes, indeed you should check the boys every month or so.  Give them a good feel, look for unusual tenderness and run them through your fingers to check for swelling, or something misshapen.  Each testicle should be about the size of a walnut, give or take and shouldn’t be unusually tender.  Yes, testicles are tender, that’s their normal state, but if you’ve owned a pair for a while, you can tell if they’re more tender than they should be.  If you press on one and it goes “OwFuck!” then that’s not right and should be checked by a doctor.

An “Official” Junk test is here: http://tcrc.acor.org/tcexam.html from the Testicular Cancer Resource Centre.  The issue they bring up is not to find cancer with a monthly self-exam, but to get used to what your testicular state of “normal” is, so you find anything odd, early enough.

It’s the same drill with women and a breast cancer self-exam:  Get used to what is supposed to be there (there is a wide range of ‘normal’ be it tits or nuts) so you spot an anomaly early, then get it checked by a doctor.  Most women understand it, so why don’t men get it?  Because we are not as aware and have never been taught or told to check the junk on a regular basis.  Men, you have now been told and click on the link to be taught.

Can you turn this into a saucy event?  With a little imagination, a willing partner and some knowledge, you most certainly can.  One would think that you would have a reasonable base of knowledge about your partner’s bosomy delights and should feel comfortable enough with their geography to go touring on a regular basis, why not?  (As an interesting aside, about ten percent of the time it’s a partner who finds a breast lump.)  Since turnabout is fair play, invite your partner to be more involved in your health.

Bottom line?  Check the Boys on a regular basis.  If you’re not sure about what you’re finding, then get to a doctor and have a medico give you guidance.

We Go Mo!


Every year, for the past four years now, we set aside the razor and grow a luxuriant example of the facial foliage called a Mo:  A moustache for those who are not aware of the month known as Movember.  We’ve participated and raised money for Movember and Prostate Cancer Canada for a very simple reason: 

One in seven men will develop prostate cancer in their lifetime and a disturbing number of them will die from it. 

Most of RoadDave this month will concern itself with growing the Mo, some candid photos of my mug with fur and some postings regarding that icky subject Men’s Health.  You’ll laugh at the moustache and might squirm a bit at the Men’s Health stuff, but the objective is to raise awareness.   

And yes, we are going to hit you up for money.  Movember is about raising money to support the work done by Prostate Cancer Canada.  Yes, they’re legit.  They have a Charitable Donation number from the Canadian Customs and Revenue Agency and they accept any amount you care to pledge on their secure website.  We wouldn’t be involved if they weren’t legit and yes, we have looked at the financials to make sure the numbers add up.  They do.

We Go Mo!