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[This is in response to an exchange with a woman about problems she was having talking with her PCa husband. They then took a trip and she wrote me on June 4, 2000, telling me what happened. - Robert Young]

couple sitting on grass, embracing Hi Robert,

We don't get to spend much time with our wonderful friends and when we do see them, we try to take advantage of every moment we have together. So I didn't know if [my husband] and I would get enough time alone for talks, but we managed some.

First, let me describe the setting. our friends just built their dream house in the desert on the outskirts of [the city]. It's a beautiful adobe structure, snuggled into a grove of cacti, with tons of other desert plants and animals. When we get our film developed, I'll send you one of my favorite view from their patio, which is where [my husband] and I finally had the best talk we've had in ages. But I'll get to that a bit later.

The first thing to celebrate was a miracle that visited us on our first night there. After a great dinner and non-stop talking for hours, we were settled in bed, with sounds of desert critters serenading through the screen door. He reached for me in that way, and I thought, "But he didn't take any Viagra." I figured okay, just go with it and play around like we have done before. Lo and behold, he sustained an erection sufficient for the whole shebang. Still not as strong as before, but plenty good for both of us. First time since his RP that we managed to go all the way without any assistance. (Nine months out, and sooner than either of us expected.) We were both so pleased, we would have done a moonlit desert dance if we hadn't been warned about stinging scorpions. And this was after he took tons of Sudafed that morning, which he always has takes when he flies, due to chronic ear problems. Even before the RP, whenever he would fly - usually to visit his family - we would have to wait a day for the Sudafed to leave his system.

It felt like this did so much for his confidence. And here I was, so afraid for him to keep trying and failing. The last couple of months, it felt like he was avoiding sex, I figured because of the fear of failure.

And this is what was bothering me so much - I though he should be more willing to try other things beyond the Viagra, thinking it would help the confidence factor. I was reading so much on the PCAI about how happy men and their partners were with the injections, and even their VEDs. But he has steadfastly refused to try either.

Our last morning there, I got up early to sit on the patio and listen to the magical morning sounds of the desert critters. Incredible bird sounds, bunnies running by, roadrunners drawn to puddles of water in the garden.

He got up and joined me, and after a little chit chat, I took a deep breath, slipped my hand into his, and said, "Honey, I have this problem, and I need your help to figure it out." He was a bit surprised, but since he's an incredibly low-key and patient person, he just waited for me to continue.

I went on to describe how confused I was about how much to talk about the PCa, and asked him if I brought it up too much, or was forcing him to think about it when he'd rather not.

He said that he didn't feel I talked about it too much. "It's part of our lives now," he said. "It's not like it's going to go away if we don't talk about it." He also said he knew I was interested in researching medical information, that I was good at it, and he appreciated my sharing the information with him. He made it clear that I'm doing fine, and that he doesn't want me to do anything differently.

I asked him if he thought about the PCa a lot, and how he felt about it at this point. He said it never really leaves his mind for long, and that every so often he'll feel a pain somewhere in his body and wonder if it's a PCa metastasis. But the overwhelming thing he has realized is to live his life now, not to wait to do the things he wants to do. He said, "I may not live as long as my father," who is 80. "I don't want to put things off for later, since there may not be a later for us." He didn't say this in a particularly fatalistic way, but more in recognition that if he has 10 years left to live, he wants to live his life to the fullest in those years, not wait and plan for later.

We didn't really have the opportunity to talk about the sexual stuff, since on our first glorious night, I didn't want to ruin the moment by intellectualizing, analyzing, or suggesting things. And it didn't seem appropriate to bring it up during the more general conversation on the patio that last morning. I didn't want it to seem like a test, or a survey, and since the conversation we had went so well, I didn't want to push it. But I do feel like it will be easier to bring it up now that I've untangled my mind a bit.

So your advice worked, Robert. First of all, you were right on the money: my anxiety, confusion and depression were my problems, not his. And by presenting my feelings that way, he was able to open up and talk about his. Maybe it helped that I wasn't asking him to do anything he didn't want to do, or talk about things he didn't want to get into. Perhaps beginning the conversation by expressing my fears and asking for his help allowed him to help me, to "fix" things. He is a man who is definitely a fixer, who is happiest when he can help me solve a problem.

A very close male friend, a man who worked with us for 10 years and knows us both well, once gave me some advice about men that I have never forgotten. Your last letters to me reinforced this insight. Our friend explained to me that, whether biological or environmental, men are trained to fix things. If they know they can't offer a solution to a problem, they don't want to talk about it.

This was a real breakthrough for me in understanding men, since at that time I was getting frustrated because [my husband] didn't want to continue a particular conversation. [Our friend] told me that he thought [my husband] was avoiding that conversation because there was nothing he could do about the issues I was addressing. And I was being the typical female, just wanting to talk - not looking for solutions, but simply finding solace in the act of talking, of processing my feelings out loud.

I owe you so much, Robert. I can't find words to express my gratitude for the time you've spent helping me get through this last rough patch - and helping so many other folks (especially the women) on PCAI at the same time. Please don't hesitate to ask me for help, whether for your Website, or anything else.

Time to get back to work. (Sorry, I thought this would be a shorter letter. Guess brevity is not my nature.)

(name deleted)

[In the interim, I posted more on the subject to the PCAI list. To read that one, click here. - RVY]

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This information is provided for educational purposes only and does not replace or amend professional medical advice. Unless otherwise stated and credited, the content of Phoenix5 (P5) is by and the opinion of and copyright © 2000 Robert Vaughn Young. All Rights Reserved. P5 is at <>. P5's policy regarding privacy and right to reprint are at <>.