Following a serious health scare three years ago, Tama Tuavera has “taken his life back” and lost more than 20kgs. 20021830.
A serious health scare brought Ngatangiia MP Tamaiva Tuavera to his knees. Melina Etches sat down with Tuavera, who openly shared his story in the hope that other men will do the same especially during the month of November.
years ago, trying to pee, Tamaiva Tuavera felt excruciating pain.
agony, the Member of Parliament for Ngatangiia gave in, knelt and cried.
after, Tuavera, who is well-known as Captain Tama, drove himself to the
hospital where a catheter was inserted.
relief he felt was amazing and he couldn’t believe his urine filled several
such relief,” recalls Tuavera as he shares his prostate health scare experience
to encourage more men to seek medical advice when daily bodily movements are
not functioning in a normal manner.
was 2017, when he first experienced difficulties passing urine; at the time he
was taking herbal pills for a blood condition.
online Tuavera came across herbal tablets that he ordered; the difficulty of
passing urine eased.
after sometime the pills stopped working and taking double dosages did not ease
realised something was seriously wrong when he felt a constant urge to urinate
but nothing would happen.
the pain hit and I couldn’t go…”
returned to the hospital the next day for a prostate check with an ultrasound
told his prostate was “way too big”.
hit me straightaway was, ‘oh no, I’ve got prostate cancer’. So, I asked, do I
relieved to hear “no”.
explained to me what prostate was, how when it expands it means its not pushing
the urine out.
only way to fix it was to have an operation, the catheter was just a temporary
men age, they develop prostate enlargement and can increasingly be plagued by a
frequent need to urinate.
prostate is a walnut-sized gland located below the bladder
advancing age, prostate cells thrive, a condition called benign prostatic
hyperplasia (BPH), which causes the gland to grow slowly and press on the
bladder and part of the urethra.
enlarged prostate can prevent the complete emptying of the bladder, so it fills
more quickly, causing an urge to urinate but with great difficulty.
who has medical insurance, did not wait for a referral and made preparations
contacting doctors in New Zealand for appointments.
September 2017, he flew to New Zealand for his medical checks.
is a former New Zealand Army firearms instructor. But the thought of going
through a Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scanning machine, scared him.
kept saying to me, ‘it’s going to be all right’ … but I don’t know, I was
scared. When I was in the armed forces, I never felt claustrophobic, but lately
in life, some things are harder for me to take in, like sometimes being in a
them I hate it being so enclosed in a small space, so they gave me headphones
and played music I liked.”
calmer with the sound of music lying in the MRI capsule like machine, “but when
that machine started - takatakatakataka… that’s how loud it was, then the music
tried to call out to turn the music back on … he willed himself to regroup his
thoughts, “I thought to myself, ‘no, no don’t yell out, don’t do that, you’ll
just panic’. So, I thought of the beach in Muri, the sunny beach, thinking of
all the good things back home… that, got me through.”
doctor introduced him to a new procedure - Holmium laser enucleation of the
prostate (HoLEP), a treatment for men with benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH)
“where you don’t have to be opened up, but the procedure is done through the
anyone would ask the innocent question, Tuavera asked, “does that hurt?”
doctor replied, you wouldn’t know you’ll be asleep,” says Tuavera with a laugh.
returned home to Rarotonga to spend Christmas and New Year’s with his family.
January, 2018 received news the procedure would be performed at the Mercy
Hospital on January 24 - Tuavera flew to New Zealand with his wife Lynn.
HoLEP procedure was explained, “I wasn’t scared, I’ve been through quite a few
operations, here and while in the army.”
procedure took 90 minutes.
warned not to be alarmed at the blood when he would pass urine.
had the comfort of staying in a private hospital room, on arrival he glanced at
his urine bag and all he saw was blood.
discomfort, he had a drip with a button to press for morphine to help relieve
used the morphine.
was pain, but I could handle it and I’m always conscious of morphine.
male nurse who checked on me was surprised I never used the morphine. I told
him no, ‘I’m Superman, I don’t need pain killer’.”
was kept in for 24 hours, the next day his urine began to clear.
remember when I used to try and pee… now it was like someone turned a hose on
doctors spoke to him about diet, alcohol, red meat among other things.
fish and vegetables for three months,” he says.
five days he returned home, during that period he was always conscious of being
was about getting on scale, see any doctor you hop on the scale, there’s always
sitting on 136 to 139 kilos at the time.
all sorts of diets, I’d lose weight then put it back on; on and off, on and
weighs a good 120 kilos, which he credits to the Arbonne programme he started
started it to try and get my life back,” Tuavera says.
a protein drink which is plant based and the types of foods you can eat for 30
days followed by a two week break then another 30 days. “
his Arbonne plan when he travels.
trip to the Pa Enua Tuavera faced a challenge, where delicious food was staring
him in the face.
sit at the table with all the food on, I was testing myself to see if I would
eat this food, I just ate rukau, moina tai and fish, I managed to stick to my
plan; so far I have lost 20 kilos,” he says.
crux too is exercise, I go to the gym every morning at 6am, I walk and cycle.”
then his prostate has been fine.
month of November is widely known as “Movember” – the campaign to push men to
be more aware of their health and simply get to a doctor for a check-up.
says a lot of men are too akama (shy) to go to the doctor and get checked out.
encourage them to go and get checked, another symptom is the opposite that men
can’t stop themselves from peeing too when you can’t control your urine, have
no bladder control whether you are passing or trying,” he says.
appointment to visit Dr Fariu and call George George, the ambassador for the
Movember health awareness campaign for men.”
men in workplaces around Rarotonga shaved their facial hair on the first
weekend of November, then grow their beard to shave off at the end of the
“Let’s Talk About” evening at the Golf Club next Tuesday at 6.30pm will have
several men share their medical health experiences.
the men to come along to listen and help out with the campaign where they can.”