My story is surely the same as hundreds of patients that have gone before me, and hundreds more than will come after me. I feel, however, an uncontrollable desire to tell this story, hoping it helps someone who is in the same situation that I was and that they find it inspirational enough to make a decision that will help them feel reborn to a newer and fuller life.
This story has two parts, a medical-surgical one and human one that, in the end, merge into one.
I am 65 years and for ten years I took the annual PSA, blood, urine, flowmetry, ultrasound, etc. In June 2009, I went to my routine checkup and found a fluctuation in my PSA levels. I had a PSA level of 3.58 in 2008 and a 5.07 in 2009. My urologist ordered a biopsy and on July 14 I was told the result: adenocarcinoma, Gleason 6 (3 +3), which after the report, the level proved to be a Gleason 7.
The stages that I went through were in this order: fear, concern and finally, a frantic desire to find the best treatment. In the last stage, the patient wonders about his future, both in survival and quality of life.
I consulted with two local specialists on available treatments and both agreed to provide the following options: watchful waiting, where the changes could have been so slow because there was no evidence of it in past years; or open surgery, laparoscopy, radiotherapy, brachytherapy, green light laser. I was told in all options there are complications such as incontinence and impotence for life. That was all I offered! So immediately I started a frantic search for information. I didn’t need to go far. I found a treatment that my two local experts had overlooked: Robotic-assisted Radical Prostatectomy, conducted by Prof. Dr. David D. Samadi, Chief, Robotics and Minimally Invasive Surgery, Department of Urology, Faculty of Medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital, New York, NY. I not only discovered this but found that Dr. Samadi had performed more than 2,000 interventions on patients worldwide. He was recognized as an expert in this type of intervention, after extensive experience in traditional open and laparoscopic surgery, which he earned for using and improving his expertise in robotic prostate surgery and other urological surgeries, taking it to a level of excellence that was previously unknown.
On July 19, 2009, I called Dr. Samadi to set the date of my appointment and immediately got help from his team, both in his office and the Mount Sinai Hospital, to facilitate the preoperative administrative process. I confirmed surgery with him on August 27, 2009, at 7:00am. Two days before surgery, I met with Dr. Samadi to prepare for the surgery. I found I was with an exceptional professional human being, having read almost everything he published. Samadi described the medical and surgical aspects of the operation and did so in a very human way, protective and loving, and yet unable to contain his excitement. I saw in him the embodiment of the fundamental principle in the Bible: Love your neighbor as yourself.
The operation went perfectly, even with one complication. As a result of a vagotomy I’d had in the last thirty years, and the aftermath of a scar, I had some adhesions that only an experience surgeon in open and laparoscopic like Dr. Samadi could have removed with great success with the robot. Without that experience, the result of the operation would have been different.
After 24 hours of my operation, I was discharged. After 7 days, I removed the catheter and, within 12 days, I returned to my country. On the same day I removed my catheter, I was able to walk for an hour. Two days later, my wife and I celebrated with wine in a restaurant and then I smoked a cigar. The incontinence diminishes more each day and, at this rate, I hope that in two or three weeks, it will be one hundred percent under control. Sexual function shows signs of full recovery without any drugs.
Last but not least, I wish to emphasize my deep gratitude to Samadi’s team for the professionalism and affection that they showed me, especially an angel named Ann, as well as the nursing staff and administration of the Mount Sinai Hospital, a paradigm in medical institutions.
To finish off, I have to say that Dr. Samadi and his staff will remain in my heart and in my memory as long as I live.