Seanad Éireann - Volume 182 - 01 February, 2006

Strategy for Men’s Health: Statements (Resumed).

  An Cathaoirleach: I seek some clarification from the Leader. As the time has almost elapsed for No. 2——

  Ms O’Rourke: Three minutes remain for statements on men’s health. I hope the debate will be resumed next week, for the third week running. Statements on road safety will begin at 4 p.m.

  An Cathaoirleach: Very well. Will three minutes be enough?

  Ms O’Rourke: Senator Norris is in possession and is willing to conclude.

  An Cathaoirleach: That is fine. Will the Minister speak?

  Ms O’Rourke: I will find out which Minister is waiting to contribute.

  An Cathaoirleach: Senator Norris has 11 minutes left.

  Mr. Norris: It looks as though I will be in possession again next week.

  An Cathaoirleach: Yes.

  Mr. Norris: It is like a relay race.

  Mr. Kitt: Well done.

  An Cathaoirleach: Does the Senator not like to be in possession?

  Mr. Norris: I welcome the Minister of State at the Department of Health and Children, Deputy Seán Power, to the House. I will have sufficient time to finish a point which I believe to have some practical application and which comes from my own limited experience of hospitals.

I have had some difficulties with my prostate which obliged me to be taken into hospital for an examination. It is a fairly simple and routine matter entailing the insertion of a fibre optic camera. As one is knocked out for this procedure, I thought it would be all right, would cause no bother and so on. However, the insertion of such a device into the urethra has a tendency to dislodge germs. Moreover, particularly if the surgeon fumbles somewhat or encounters some kind of problem, it can also create bleeding. In a small number of cases, this can lead to infection. I ended up with septicaemia, an extremely serious [920]infection, was hospitalised for a number of weeks as a result and was quite desperately ill.

4 o’clock

However, it is important that men know this need not happen. I was informed that this happens once in every 3,000 procedures. Consequently, given the low incidence level, antibiotic cover is not provided. However, four or five of the men in a gym which I attend in the centre of Dublin have experienced exactly the same infection. Hence, I believe the rate is considerably higher than one in 3,000.

Septicaemia is very dangerous. It is extraordinarily weakening, extremely painful and disorientating. I went into a form of shock, my temperature rose and fell repeatedly, I was unable to hold the telephone and was half-hallucinating.

It is important that a patient discuss with his doctor whether he or she thinks it appropriate to get full antibiotic cover. Were I to have this procedure again, I would insist on it. I should note that I have had the procedure performed again in another hospital with an excellent surgeon and I experienced only mild discomfort. I am not sure whether it a question of the skill of the surgeon but I know that there is a serious risk in that regard.

  An Cathaoirleach: The three minutes are up.

  Mr. Norris: If I may finish the point, I was not encouraged on my way into the hospital by listening to a radio programme which discussed the prostatectomy operation and reported that among the fairly common side effects were impotence and incontinence. I am not sure how true that is but patients need the truth.

I thank the Cathaoirleach for his indulgence. I look forward to continuing the debate on the next occasion because there are important issues to raise, including testicular cancer. I also possess a series of quite worrying statistics on the incidence of prostate cancer and of mortality in this country and I look forward to putting them on the record.

  Mr. S. Power: The Senator will keep us in suspense yet again.

  Mr. Norris: I am afraid so.