Journal of the New Zealand Medical Association, 05-November-2010, Vol 123 No 1325
Pelvic floor exercises
My doctor has encouraged me to write to you because this is a case of all the medical profession assuming that a patient automatically understands what is meant by a non-medical phrase, and he has pleaded guilty too.
In June 2009 I had a radical prostatectomy and, afterwards, was told to do the pelvic floor exercises to reform and strengthen the muscles that control the bladder. However, even though I read all the literature provided and listened to the hospital specialists and nurses, never was it explained that the exercises did not have to be done while sitting on the floor, but were actually a group of muscles at the base of the abdomen called “the pelvic floor”. Only when I received a pamphlet from ACC in September 2010 was it explained clearly!
Consequently I only did them intermittently because it was too painful when getting down to the floor. In June this year, because the incontinence had not stopped I had a loop inserted. To sit at all for some weeks was painful so the exercises again were only done intermittently. Later I was given a rubber-ring cushion that women apparently use when they have just had babies, because they have similar problems as I have recently had.
Although now retired I am considered reasonably intelligent (two post-graduate degrees) but am single, and do not know about these things that seem to be common knowledge to women and the medical/nursing profession.
As prostate cancer is so common, and the government is combatting it vigorously, it may help some other bachelor if the nurses ensure that he knows what is meant by the terms used. I have got used to the amusement this has occasioned amongst my retired nursing friends, so would ask you to publish this as it may help others in a similar position to myself.
David H B Speary
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