Living Well

March 10, 2010

Living with Conquering Patience

Filed under: character,Personal Leadership — dlneidert @ 11:27 am
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Conquering patience.  That is the description of the ancient Romans as empire builders.  Never conceding defeat, even in defeat, the ancient Romans patiently waited for their opportunity to become masters of their world.  By the year 140, this watchful and enduring patience grew an empire encompassing 1.7 million square miles, while spanning Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East.

Patience is a virtue, particularly in a world that wants everything instantly. Today, waiting 30 seconds for the microwave to cook a meal seems an eternity.  Similarly, our impatience causes us to amass instant credit to own everything now or consume bottles of diet pills for looking good now.  We want all of it now instead of developing a conquering patience that will actually provide better results in the long run.  We want instant credit, yet do not consider that at 23% interest it will take us 30 years to pay off debts.  We want to look good instantly, yet do not consider all the medical facts that overwhelmingly show that exercise and diet every day changes us for a lifetime.  Patience now takes a good deal of energy, commitment, focus and delayed gratification in order to reap the best dividends in the future.  And not only the best future but a future that is freer.  The German proverb sums it up well, “Patience is a bitter plant, but it has sweet fruit.”

Patience is a persisting spirit, one geared toward achieving long term goals or dreams.  The patient person knows they will reap lasting rewards and successes from their efforts if they can stay focused through the disappointments or impatience of current situations or circumstances.  Patience and delaying gratification now allows us to taste ‘sweet fruit’ in the future.  Patience additionally breeds personal growth and wisdom as we work through the trials that come our way.  Our conquering patience also produces hope.  This hope is grounded in our belief that we will overcome the present trials or setbacks to achieve enduring benefits.

As I write this, I have been enduring over two months of recovery from a badly broken leg and surgery.  I also have a way to go. But patience has been an important part of my recovery.  Patience in the use of a walker.  Patience in doing the exercises given by my doctor. Patience in watching the progression of the healing.  I know that it will take time; this is a moment that requires my conquering patience. 

Patience is often associated with the acquisition of goals, but it is also essential for our personal relationships.  A nuance of the concept of patience is related to forbearance.  Forbearance means to express “restraint in the face of provocation which does not hastily retaliate or promptly punish.”  Are we willing to forbear with others, even when we may be at odds with them either because of disagreement or their behaviors toward us?

Conquering patience.  The Romans changed history and the world with this powerful concept.  What might this do in our own lives if we were willing to forbear and be patient in our circumstances; eating a bitter plant now for the sweet fruit that lasts a lifetime?  What rewards might we reap in the future if we were willing to be patient now, putting in the hard work needed for lasting benefits, health and welfare?

Blessings as you live well this day; grace and peace as you live patiently in a world focused on instant success and gratification.

David Neidert

March 3, 2010

How Brave are You?

Filed under: character,Personal Leadership — dlneidert @ 9:13 am
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During a recent time of recovery from a surgery, I had hours to watch many news casts.  In addition, I am a news hound reading and listening to what is happening in the world.  I am regularly reminded of a war raging inside every person.  From criminals to politicians to corporate CEOs to those involved in all kinds of civic projects, I am reminded of the internal battle over our personal, often selfish, desires.

Aristotle wrote, “I count him braver who overcomes his desires than him who conquers his enemies; for the hardest victory is the victory over self.”  The Apostle Paul captures the ultimate essence of this in the book of Romans when he wrote, “I do not understand my own actions.  For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.”  This internal collision, where self discipline and the ache for living out our personal desires intersect, is common to us all no matter our heritage, background or culture.  This intimate battlefield is a battlefield we all have to engage during our lives.

Aristotle pointed to one fact that we must never ignore; we are separated from the animal kingdom by reason and our ability for mastering our desires.  This mastery is not a simple war to wage. Yet if won, it moves us closer to being other focused and living effectively in the day to day.  If we are not able to master ourselves, the desires and pleasures we seek will control us, living little room for valuing people or situations as nothing more than a means to our personal end.  We are more like animals if we follow our instincts only. 

I am not saying we can win all these internal battles by shear willpower.  There are many battles that take trained professionals and advocates to help us make progress and find victory.  We need them to confront us and help us work through sometimes what we cannot overcome alone.

Yet, for many, Aristotle names people brave that seek self-control.  He may be right that those courageous enough to strive against personal desires and self gratification as our highest good are the most valiant warriors.  The consequence of not facing ourselves and controlling emotions and desires in our life can exact a heavy toll on us as well as others.  When our unchecked actions seek to fulfill our desires over the welfare of others, we are apt to leave carnage not only now, but possibly for generations to come.

So we might wonder, “What might be the consequences in my life (and for others) if I am not willing to have some self control?” “What good or bad might be the result of my living without self control?”  “What good, rewards, or benefits might come if I could have victory over selfish ambitions or desires?”  Not easy questions to undertake, yet the reward for having acknowledged and fought them may bring well being and living well now and in the future.

Blessings to you for this day and in this engagement.  Grace and peace.

David Neidert

March 2, 2010

Storing Goodness

Filed under: character,Personal Leadership — dlneidert @ 7:56 pm
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We easily recognize most fruit trees.  Apple, orange, and pear trees are quickly categorized by the fruit hanging from their branches.  Whether we live in the United States, Europe or the Far East, we can spot an apple tree when it is laden with fruit. I have traveled into the rural areas of India and can tell when I see an orange tree because I am familiar with the fruit; I recognize its outward sign that this tree is an orange bearing tree and not an apple tree.

Human beings are no different.  We can identify a person in our minds and hearts by what they do.  And if we categorize a person as good, the beauty of their behavior is the trademark—the outward sign–of how we know them.  American writer, Harry Allen Overstreet said it like this, “Goodness is a special kind of truth and beauty.  It is truth and beauty in human behavior.”

Goodness is not just behavior, but a chosen life attitude.  In goodness, we work at benefiting others and our communities.  We benefit others when we promote, minister to, assist, and serve people out of deepest character and values.  Goodness does not focus on control, opposition, or obstructing another person’s path, but seeks to act in ways that will promote their welfare and prosperity.

Jesus observed, “The good person brings good things out of the good stored in them.” As Jesus said, good comes from stored good.  Stored good is an attitude, based on continuously repeated action that can be drawn out in any circumstance.  Goodness stored in our souls is accumulated over time just as small deposits placed in a bank account can produce great wealth in time.  We are then able to display goodness when we tap these reservoirs pooled at the core of our beings.  Storing goodness is like saving money—it is a choice to act regularly in ways that will benefit in the future.  

Goodness is identifiable, just like fruit, no matter where you travel.  Goodness coupled with respect could be the core of diplomacy and world citizenship if we just practiced and behaved in ways that identified this fruit purposely stored in us.  But if we haven’t been storing it, goodness will not be available when needed.  I’ve traveled enough around the globe to see goodness shared between people of different cultures; it is a language of dignity that fosters fellowship and relationship as human beings.

Blessings to you as you consciously choose to store good in your life.  May you find in it grace and peace and relationship.

David Neidert

March 1, 2010

The Color of your Character

Filed under: character,Personal Leadership — dlneidert @ 12:10 pm
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It is called inherent affinity.  This term names what professional dyers use to distinguish between a pigment and a dye.  While pigments do not attach themselves to materials without chemical agents, dyes infiltrate fabrics and become permanently a part of the fibers.  This property of dyes gives it an ability to bond molecularly at the most invisible level with the surfaces it touches.

The Greek poet and architect Heraclitus (540-480 BC) wrote that “the soul is dyed the color of its thoughts.  Think only on those things that are in line with your principles and can bear the full light of day.  The content of your character is your choice.  Day by day, what you choose, what you think, and what you do is who you become.  Your integrity is your destiny…it is the light that guides your way.”  As Heraclitus observed, we become what we think, particularly as it relates to our character and integrity.  Our very lives are dyed the color of what we think about and act upon.  If we choose to be people of integrity in our minds, our souls will inherently bond with our thoughts.  By this infiltration, we become in time what we subject ourselves to through the repeated choices we make.

Dye has another quality that Heraclitus must have noticed.  Dyers know that the human eye can detect the smallest color differences in fabric.  It is critical to apply dyes uniformly if the product is to be of the highest quality, for even the untrained eye can detect dyes that are not uniform.

Our integrity is much like this uniformity.  If we practice integrity in some areas of our lives, but not in others, even the casual observer will detect the non-uniformity of our principles.  For example, if we are to be people of integrity, we must uniformly apply the stealing of cash from our employer to the stealing of our employer’s time.  It is in reality the same, just in different forms.  By uniformly applying integrity to all areas of our lives, we will reflect the color of principles that can bear the light of personal continuing scrutiny by others.

One attribute of dye, however, demands our attention.  The attribute is that no matter how absorbent and initially strong the dye, it can fade over time.  Washing, intense light or excessive heat can over time begin fading a dyed fabric.

The lesson here is that we are not to fade over time; we must make choices day to day to focus on integrity and principles.  Thinking about integrity now and then will not keep us colorfast, but will eventually permit us to fade when the heat is on.

What dyes are you applying to your life?  What thoughts are dying your character qualities?  Are you pursuing integrity and excellence or pursuing gain by less than honorable means?  Are you applying integrity in all areas of your life, not just some?  Are you willing to be courageous and live with integrity and character all the time, even when it is unpopular or the heat is on?

We become the quality of our thoughts.  Modern neurological and brain studies tell us this.  Yet Heraclitus, just observing the world over two millennia ago knew the same thing.

Blessings to you for this day; grace and peace.

David Neidert

February 21, 2010

What Does Your Name Mean?

Filed under: character,Personal Leadership — dlneidert @ 7:23 pm
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What is in a name?  The ancient Egyptians believed that the name of a person carried their essence, the quality of their personality.  Wisdom literature tells us that names are important.  Choosing names for children still sells thousands of books a year.  Many people carefully determine a child’s name not just on the basis of how it sounds, but what it means or the legacy of someone they want to honor in this new life.

When my wife and I named our children, we were very specific about them.  Our oldest is Sarah, who is princess because she was a gift; a princess to us.  Our son is David Benjamin.  The Benjamin was more my doing than my wife’s decision.  She wanted Jonathan, but I was studying Hebrew at the time…David (the beloved) Benjamin (son of the right hand).  Since we would have two children then…a boy and girl…these were important names for us.  We wanted to name them not just out of the air, but with tags that would travel with them over a lifetime.

Names are important as identifiers, but they also precede us and carry identifying qualities.  Marketers know that brand names are important because most people will buy something without delving into comparative quality simply based on the name and the reputation that goes along with it.  Marketers are banking on that association of name and purchase. 

People of history are also summed up in their names.  Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, and others carry their histories in their names.  Rosa Park, Martin Luther King, Jr., Florence Nightingale and JFK (initials only!) carry their histories, too.  We feel something about these names. These identifiers elicit emotion and a reaction just by uttering them.

So, what does your name convey?  What goes along with this identifier that is tagged to you?  The Hebrew word for name refers to our reputation. Our names reveal our reputation.  When people think of you and your name, what goes along with it?  Do their experiences with you bring delight, fond memories, laughter, a sense of character or trustworthiness when they hear your name?   Or does hearing your name cause people to roll their eyes, whisper to others behind cupped hands, or distrust whatever might be said by you?

Proverbs of the Old Testament says, “A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold.”  If we carry a good name, people will recall us—even in some distant time when we are no longer alive—with admiration and respect.  But if your name carries all that is unpleasant you will be labeled with distain regardless of what you thought about yourself (and it will last beyond your ability to make any changes to that perception).

“Your reputation precedes you” is a great movie line.  But it is a line that could be spoken every day when people met you.  What do you want to go ahead of you?  What do you want people to believe about you when they hear your name?  You can craft this in how you live every day.  If you want your name to be filled with integrity, character, delight, and a host of other identifiers you can choose to build that reputation by how you act in every encounter.

Silver and gold come and go; we know that in today’s economy.  Wealth is gained, lost, spent, and forgotten over generations.  But your name, your reputation, will be the record in someone’s memory of who you were and what you contributed to life.  What do you want your name to carry with it both now and into the future?  You can choose to create that legacy today; and it is a choice.

Blessings to you as you craft a reputation of joy, encouragement, and living well through the tag of your name.  Grace and peace.

David Neidert

February 17, 2010

Behaviors Good Anywhere in the World

Filed under: Personal Leadership,personal mission — dlneidert @ 11:43 am
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There are a gargantuan number of behaviors that are illegal.  It is easy to create a list of illegal behaviors, such as murder, rape, kidnapping, or theft.  If you were pressed, you could add to this list a host of additional violations, like espionage, fraud, abuse, or trafficking.  We might have a list of hundreds we could pen if we were given enough time.  But were you aware that the legal canon of the United States has over 260 volumes?  Additionally, there are over 16 volumes of IRS codes and 168 volumes of Supreme Court decisions.  Can it be any wonder there are so many lawyers (625,000 at my last check) for defending or litigating regulations?  Now, add to this international law and the laws of other lands.  And if you think those international laws don’t matter, read the fine print of your Passport which in essence says you are bound by the laws of the country you are traveling in.

There are behaviors, though, against which there are no laws, as the Apostle Paul writes in his letter to the Galatians.  Personally adhering to these attitudes of the heart could actually make life more fulfilling and transforming.  Living with integrity, honesty, sound speech, gentleness, self control and others keeps us within boundaries that seek the best for all involved.  These attitudes, when lived out, do not intend to harm but rejoice in the good we can experience as human beings.  These behaviors not only enrich us, but they also invite others to measure themselves against universal principles of excellence.

I know we live in a social structure that tells us we have personal rights and no one can tell us how to live or act.  We make life relative to our own situation….our behaviors are determined by our decisions and what feels right to us.  But as a student of ancient wisdom, I know that some of the greatest literature in the world for 3,000 years tells us that personal character is not a license to freely live, but to live free.  These ancient voices beckon us to live nobly, civilly, and with self-control.  Living well means incorporating these universal principles of attitude and character against which there are no laws.  Living with a high sense of character not only has benefit now in how we live, but is replicated in the lives of our children, grandchildren, great grandchildren and the communities in which we live.

I am not naïve to believe there should not be laws.  They are essential for bringing some balance of justice in the world, as well as protection when necessary.  However, I do believe that the plea of ancient writers to live with universal principles of excellence could change most, if not all, of our personal, corporate, community, and societal relationships.  I have personally been told while traveling internationally by my hosts that I have a “heart for their land and people.”  While I do read extensively about cultures, customs, and history of the lands I visit before I travel, I also just try to live universal principles that command the highest good from me.  The combination of these two behaviors allow me to have a heart for all those I will encounter during my travel.  Wouldn’t it be interesting to see what would unfold if we personally—and collectively—began living to the cadence of these ancient voices of civility and nobility?

In the blogs ahead, I will explore a number of character attitudes and behaviors that I believe can change us and infuse our relationships with hope, peace, grace, and living well.  Blessings for this day.  Grace and peace.

David Neidert

February 12, 2010

Patience and Endurance in a Microwave Society

I am home write now.  Recovering.  The recovery is from a very badly broken femur (thigh bone) that required surgery for the placement of a rod in my leg (from about hip to knee), screws, and metal bands to keep it all together.  It has also taken six weeks of sitting and not putting any weight on my leg.  A metal, “nursing-home-like” walker—fixed with a big basket on the front for carrying items around the house—has been my constant companion.

I have learned (actually relearned) an important lesson during this time.  It has been about patience and endurance. There have been a number of episodes during this time that I will call panic.  They came in weeks three and four of recovery.  These were times when I could not see the possibility of being anywhere else except in a chair looking out the window on the world.  The healing process for a bone is long for a person my age.  So, anxiety and distress came during a number of occasions.  It was then that I was reminded of my mission, my life purpose, and goals, especially by those who love me and give me daily support.  All of these pointed to the fact that this recovery would take patience and endurance, even into the many months yet to come.

I am reminded that we want things to happen so quickly in our society—in the West. We want microwave everything.  Speedy weight loss without effort, success without very hard work, a lifetime of love because I smell good or drive the right car, or healing without many hours of waiting for one’s body to regenerate itself.  We have been blinded by an illusion of instant success—like putting 30 seconds on the microwave and then being frustrated because it is taking too long!  If you don’t believe me take as much time as I have to watch the plethora of commercials that hit us on the TV during a ½ hour episode of anything.

I am reminded not only about this during my recovery which is taking time, but also because I am reading Malcolm Gladwell’s “Outliers” (which by the way I highly recommend).  Gladwell convincingly puts forward through a lot of data and studies (which I like) that success comes through hours of work, patience, and endurance.  It comes with putting in a lot of time and effort—at least 10,000 hours of hard work. 

I love words.  I have a 10 pound, 5.4 ounce Funk & Wagnall Comprehensive International Dictionary that is really important to me.  I bought it for $3 at a rummage sale.  Over those 1,466 pages I find the meaning of words that help me really make sense of what we sometimes so flippantly think about or express.  One of those words is endurance.  My F & W says that endurance is “to bear with strain and resistance, but with conscious power, suggesting a contest to win and conquer; patient fortitude.”  Looking further, ‘fortitude’ says “to be strong, a strength of mind to meet and endure unfalteringly—determination; patient and constant courage, enduring courage that steadily confronts threats and barriers.”

In what Gladwell researches and I have found in my own life and work with thousands of people is that success comes through all the ingredients of competence, very hard work, support and networks, and patient endurance; standing courageously and steadily as we confront the threats, barriers, and mishaps of life.  Success doesn’t come instantly; it comes because of well established goals, focus, mission, having a purpose in life, a hopeful vision for the future, and very hard work.  Euripides, the 5th Century BC Greek playwright penned, “To preserve, trusting in what hopes one has, is courage for that person.”  Patience and endurance through hard work brings courage.

W.H. Auden, an American poet, challenges our microwave society and impatience when he wrote, “Perhaps there is only one cardinal sin: impatience. Because of impatience we were driven out of Paradise, because of impatience, we cannot return.”  Living well is not a sprint….it is a courageous, competent, hard working marathon.  That relearned lesson over these many weeks has helped me through these days of sitting, of wondering, of my own anxiety and impatience.  It is a lesson I am glad I found again; it brings courage for the many days yet to unfold.

Blessings as you live well.  Grace and peace.

David Neidert

February 11, 2010

Move Toward Your Goals: Use Your Time Wisely

I regularly hear people talk about not having enough time to do everything they want.  While I listen to this patiently, I also know that time usage is a matter of choices.  We know this intuitively, but we don’t apply what we know to our daily lives.  We delude ourselves into thinking that by some magic we can control time, save a few hours of today for tomorrow, or squeeze 25 hours out of a day for all we want out of life.  Nicolas Hayek, co-founder and CEO of Swatch Watch Group says it like this, “You cannot keep time.  You cannot catch it.  You cannot stop it.  You cannot possess it.  It’s always present, but if you try to hold it, it disappears.  So never try to manage it.  It will beat you at every turn.” 

Hundreds of books on time management can be found with a quick internet search.  In a nutshell, they would all say time management concerns giving priority to what is important in your private life, leisure, and work.  While they all have their variation on the theme, they would agree that one of the issues of time management are time bandits; those areas of life that rob us of productivity.  Time bandits can be classified as those items that keep us from reaping the opportunities for personal growth and living well.  Some time bandits are excessive television viewing, procrastination, moving from project-to-project without purpose, or even those many hours spent on the internet for a variety of reasons (surfing, social network without direction, games, etc., etc.)

A lament I often hear is how “I want to do “so and so” (you can fill in the blank) but never have enough time to actually get this done.”  One of the most wonderful experiences of my life that set the stage for my own future came during a breakfast I had in 1994 with Zig Ziglar.  I asked him, “How do you get the time to write so many books?”  His response, “I write one page a day.  In 365 days, I have a book.”  Now that isn’t rocket science.  That is just making a decision about using time every day for something that is purposeful, a part of your mission.  I have used this discipline myself since that conversation.  I have now written three books, nationally published nearly 50 articles, and researched for other books and projects by spending about 7 to 10 hours every week focused on this craft.  That simple use of time gives me between 300 and 500 hours of writing every year.

My advice, don’t get sucked into believing that time is infinite.  My time—your time—is finite; it has an end on this earth.  If no one has told you or if you are living a fantasy or in denial, let me remind you…you are going to die.  Your time WILL come to an end.  And it may be sooner (or later) than you think or want.  So what is your mission? How will this help you make decisions about your use of time? Will you get control of time bandits or let them use up discretionary moments of your life?  You can manage your time by courageously making some decisions. 

Johann Goethe, the 18th century writer, observed, “One always has time enough, if only one applies it well.”  Make some decisions today.  And one of the first is to read “First Things First,” by Stephen Covey.  I use this book with students to help them wed purpose and mission by how they use of their time.  If you take time to read this book, you will be taking the primary step in managing your finite time for the things what will help you live well.

Blessings as you live well in the time you have available.  Grace and Peace.

David Neidert

February 7, 2010

Prostate Cancer: Ongoing Followup to Cancer treatment

Filed under: personal mission,prostate cancer — dlneidert @ 1:11 pm
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A blogger that helped me originally in my own prostate cancer journey wrote, “Prostate cancer is a life long journey.”  I know this is the case as I continue going to my post prostatectomy consultations.  After my initial post operative work, the appointments began being set every three months for the first year.  The main objective of these consultations is to answer three ongoing questions:  What is the return of potency, How are you healing related to incontinence, and cancer management.  These are three ongoing questions I continue to answer as I am now in year 2 of my post surgery consultations.

Ongoing consultations are essential, especially in the area of cancer management.  The routine PSA report helps the doctor to know that no cancer has returned.  I always wait for the response, “Your PSA shows non-detectable.”  That means there is nothing to detect in the area of prostate cancer.  However, as I am aware, the PSA test can detect the return of prostate cancer well before it may in fact appear in the body in some location.  Thus, the ongoing consultations are essential.

My consultations started at 4 times a year for the first year.  These carried over into year two as well.  Now heading into year three, my consultations will move to every 4 or 6 months, yet to be determined by my surgeon.  In all years following, it will be at least once a year.  These consultations are essential, as my surgeon reminds me.  He tells me from his own experience that many men stop the annual PSA and thus short circuit the cancer management part of the equation.  Because of this, he finds at times men return to him in more advanced stages of prostate cancer by not managing it over time—being aware of your body and your own situation.

Cancer is a disease bent on your demise.  It will silently do what it does if men do not pay attention and manage it to a CURE.  Without paying attention, cancer can accomplish what it intends….the overtaking of your body.

I now deal with these consultations with resolve.  At first, it was pretty mental to work through the possibility that the cancer was not dealt with in the surgery.  But now the cancer management is about my ongoing life and taking responsibility for living well.  I have a choice about that, and you do also.

Prostate cancer consultations and cancer management are a part of living well.  Make them a priority.  Blessings, grace and peace.

David Neidert

February 4, 2010

Prostate Cancer: My Experience with Sex and Potency following a Prostatectomy

Here is where most men want to know the effects of a prostatectomy.  It is in the area of sexual performance following this surgical procedure for prostate cancer.  What follows is my experience.  I am not trying to speak for all men because the range is huge related to sexual performance following this procedure.  I want to honestly respond to my situation related to the mechanics, but I also want to give some insights related to my emotional response to these things.

Sexual potency, as I understand it, will be affected to some degree in the treatment of prostate cancer, no matter the treatment method you choose.  Whether you choose hormone therapy, radiation, or other means including surgery for the treatment of your prostate cancer, there will be some decrease of potency; the ability to get and maintain an erection during intercourse.  Again, I can only speak of my experience following a prostatectomy.  You will have to have a candid conversation with your doctor about this issue if you choose another form of treatment for prostate cancer.

Because of the male anatomy and the nerves that operate the prostate and seminal vesicles, there is no way not to damage some of them in a surgical procedure.  Surgeons will use nerve sparing surgical procedures, but reality must also be understood here:  some nerves will have to be cut and you will lose some potency following this procedure. The goal is to return your potency to the best it can be following surgery.  This may take as much as 18 months to become restored or to reach the peak of your potency.  It is a time for patience and focusing on what matters in life.  That is why I spent time in an earlier blog writing about one’s personal attitude toward sexuality and the sexual act.  If this subject is not considered when you have prostate cancer, it can become a stumbling block for you in seeking medical attention and in your attitude during recovery. 

Again, there is a range of potency following a prostatectomy.  It can be less than 65% up to 70% or so with the help of ED drugs like Viagra, Cialis or others.  The ability to have an erection at 100% the strength pre-surgery is not a reality.   But, my experience is that I can have good sex and maintain an erection during intercourse that makes lovemaking enjoyable.

One of the first things that struck me about potency is that I can still have an orgasm.  It is different, but it still feels very good.  What is also interesting is that because I no longer have a prostate (which mixes the semen and sperm) or seminal vesicles (which produce semen or ejaculate) there is no longer an ejaculate.  Because there is no ejaculate, sexual intercourse is actually clean—no body fluids to deal with after intercourse.

An erection does not happen as quickly following this surgery.  While I am still stimulated visually, it takes manual stimulation to help achieve an erection.  I can maintain an erection for a period of time, but it is not as long in duration as it used to be.  Without an ED drug, I have a more difficult time getting and maintaining an erection.

The use of ED drugs is helpful.  I use Viagra.  But there is a loss of spontaneity with these drugs.  Most of them require you take them at least 1 hour before intercourse so that they are in your system.  Also, you cannot eat a meal in the 45 minutes before you take the drugs if they are to have their full effect.  Thus, you have to time you opportunity.  I chuckle to myself when I see the ED drug commercials and they say, “When the time is right.”  That is exactly the point.  You have to plan to use these ED drugs.  This changes the communication about sexual activity with your spouse.  You do have to plan and communicate that the ‘time is right’ for you to engage in sexual activity.  It will take energy, planning, and communication.  My advice is not to allow this to become a barrier, but to talk frankly with your spouse about this timing and the use of ED drugs.

 You can take ED drugs in various dosages.  I use either 100 mg or 50 mg.  I find that with the 100 mg, I am able to have an erection for up to one day.  So, if I take it on a Friday evening, I can still have the ability to get and maintain and erection the following day.  The 50 mg allows me to have an erection for about 4 to 6 hours.  Finding the right dose will be trial and error with your doctor.

The side effects are also as they describe in advertisements.  I begin to get a stuffy nose as the medication is taking its full strength; so I know when it is fully in my system.  I also get flushed and warm in my face.  I do have a slight back ache after the drug begins to wear off.  And, for me, the most pronounced side effect is that I do get a headache.  With the higher doses, my headache is more intense than with the smaller doses.  I am fortunate not to have experienced nausea, which is a potential side effect.

One thing to keep in mind about ED drugs is they will not help you have an erection, but will help you maintain one once you do have it.  What this means is that if you are not able to have an erection, the ED drugs will not provide one.  The drugs, as I understand, work to seal off the blood that flows into the vessels (soft tissue) of the penis, making the blood engorge the penile tissue and “sealing” it so that the tissue stays erect for a longer period of time.

I would also say one other thing about ED drugs and my use of them.  They do not always guarantee that I will be able to keep an erection during intercourse.  I have been pretty lucky most of the time, but there have been occasions when my erection begins to fade way during intercourse.  This is disheartening for me and I feel badly for my wife in this moment as well.  But it is a part of the relationship change and enhancement.  It means that you and your spouse will have to discuss this potential and to support each other during your lovemaking and the times beyond.  Lovemaking will not be simply about performance, as it may have been in one’s youth.  It will really be about intimacy and pleasure with your spouse that can take on new meaning and new adventures in the bedroom.

I have been candid here related to my experience with sexual potency following a prostatectomy.  I did not find as much information as I would have liked in my own journey, so I share my experience in the hope that it will give encouragement in your own journey.  No part of my experience is meant to dishearten you, but to help men know there is potential for a satisfying sex life after this procedure.  It will just be different and will open new discussions and intimacy with your spouse.  And in the end, I believe this is what love is really about—sharing ALL the moments and commitments of life with the person who is your spouse.

Blessing, grace and peace.

David Neidert

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