Paul Thompson travelled to the BPC from the north-east after enduring the misery of catheterisation due to an enlarged prostate

Paul Thompson BPH

“Towards the end of November last year, my daughter said to me: ‘Dad, why do you look pregnant?’ I was a little surprised, but my tummy was quite tight. My daughter wanted me to go and see a doctor, but I thought she was worrying unnecessarily. I felt fine.

I did go to see my GP and blood tests showed my kidneys were not functioning well and that my flow was so poor that I had gone into retention. I was advised to go to my local hospital and have a catheter fitted. When that happened, they drained five litres of urine; no wonder I may have looked pregnant.

The strange thing was that I had no indication whatsoever of anything being wrong. I didn’t have the sensation of needing the toilet urgently or having to get up during the night to go to the toilet, like many men with BPH (benign prostatic hyperplasia) experience.

Once I had the catheter fitted, I felt very uncomfortable and worse still, developed repeated infections, going into a cycle of taking lots of antibiotics. The treatment proposed for my enlarged prostate was laser surgery, but it was unclear when this was going to take place. At first, a date in August (2018) at my local hospital was proposed and then I was devastated to hear this could be even later and not be until December, a full year after I had the catheter fitted.

I was really distressed about waiting that long: I was concerned that after wearing a catheter for a year and having a distended bladder, feared my continence would be permanently affected. I also found that wearing a catheter with no clear date for surgery was getting me down; my mental health was affected.

After calling our local hospital for some news about my treatment date and getting no answer, I started to look online. Quickly, the Birmingham Prostate Clinic came to prominence, along with a London clinic. I thought I could manage to travel to Birmingham and I have a nephew who lives there. I was staggered at the level of confidence emanating from the Birmingham Prostate Clinic website and I decided to test it out.

I called and after two rings, a lady called Zena answered. She listened to me and offered me two appointment times on the following Tuesday (this was a Friday). My brother-in-law joined me for my appointment with Mr Doherty who filled us with confidence in his skills and knowledge of what was happening.

Mr Doherty was not convinced that prostate laser surgery would provide a permanent solution because my prostate was thought to be in excess of 200g (enormous) and my bladder was damaged and poorly functioning from the months of retention. He suggested that I consider a prostatectomy as the best long term, albeit unusual, approach which would also protect me against the possibility of any prostate cancer. We went home to consider this carefully.

It turned out to be a fairly simple decision because I had full confidence in Mr Doherty and in the Birmingham Prostate Clinic. I am 75 and the last time I had been to hospital for an operation, I was 18. I remember that one knocking me about, but this time it was really a non-event by comparison. I had fantastic care at the Spire Hospital, Solihull; everyone I had contact with was extremely kind and competent. I was really surprised at how quickly I got over the operation and how on almost a daily basis, I felt better and stronger.

Almost immediately, I was able to pass urine normally and I had no accidents whatsoever. I was really delighted because I was worried how my continence would be after five months of wearing a catheter. The pathology results confirmed Mr Doherty’s advice: prostate cancer was present, which I may have needed treatment for at a later stage.

To talk with and to be so carefully advised has been an absolute privilege. My thanks are unlimited to Mr Doherty as they are also to the brilliant staff at the Spire Parkway Hospital. I never found any of them other than caring for these ‘old’ bones. Everyone that I have been lucky enough to deal with has been superb. I am deeply grateful to all and especially to the magnificent Birmingham Prostate Centre.

I am also very proud indeed that while I was going through treatment, my wife and daughters organised a dance performance at a theatre, raising £1,000 for Prostate Cancer UK.”