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Cancer: Prostate Message Board

Cancer: Prostate Board Index

[B]Prostatectomy, My Experience[/B] Updated 10/4/04

[U][B]Personal background[/B][/U]: Age 52, 6í2Ē, and 270 pounds. Prior to my biopsy on 6/14/04 I was playing league volleyball twice a week and basketball on occasion. My point is, that despite my weight, I was in pretty good physical shape. I had my surgery on 8/12/04 and was able to return to work on 9/2/03, two days after my catheter was removed.

[U][B]After your biopsy but before surgery[/B][/U]: You have a minimum of 45 days between these events to help yourself get ready. Here are some suggestions, some of which I learned from this message board and some that are just common sense:
1. Get out and walk! This not only helps tone the muscles in the appropriate area but also helps you feel that you are actually doing something constructive.
2. Purchase a hospital style split toilet seat from any medical supply store. This might have been the best suggestion I received off of this message board. I am not sure how I would have used the toilet with the combination of my lard butt and a catheter. With the split seat, everything fit just fine.
3. Shave from your knees to you navel. I used a beard trimmer on the lowest setting to remove my hair. That way I left some stubble and did not go through the itching associated with the hair growing back. This made removing tape much less painful.
4. Purchase some loose fitting pants or sweat pants that use a drawstring rather than a belt. I was bloated at first and could not get into my regular jeans or pants without pain. Lightweight sleep pants were my favorite around the house, and I used sweat pants when going out of the house.
5. Purchase a stool softener to have ready for when you get home from the hospital. The pain medications act as a plug and you are going to be sore from your surgery. I used a milk of magnesium product Ė it tastes like liquid bird poop but it did the job for me.
[U][B]In the hospital[/B].[/U] This whole ordeal was not nearly as bad as I was expecting. I checked in at 6:00AM, registered, had my vitals taken and changed into a gown. At 7:45 I was taken to pre-op where I was informed as to what all was going to happen to me in the next few hours, had a hep-lock installed in the back of my hand (didnít hurt) and was given an injection through the hep-lock that put me under. I woke up 2 and ľ hours later in recovery and was feeling no pain.
1. Get all of your instructions from nursing and your doctor in writing. Between the painkillers making me loopy and trying to maintain some dignity, I comprehended very little of what I was told.
2. Ask your friends and family to send fruit baskets and goody baskets instead of flowers (see number 5 above).
3. Donít feel like you are bugging the nurses Ė they are there for you and I found them to be eager to help. There is no reason to have any pain and they donít give medals for being a stoic.
4. Arrange a ride home. Youíll probably be in the hospital for 4 days, but unless you are superman, the ride home will be most uncomfortable.
[B][U]Recovering at home[/U].[/B] I had purchased several books to help fill my days, but for the first few days, the painkillers affected my ability to concentrate enough to read or follow a movie.
1. The Home Health nurse that came to the house (2 visits) was wonderful and very necessary. In addition to teaching me how to properly care for my catheter, she filled in all of the educational items I missed in the hospital.
2. Get out of the chair every so often. I needed a cane to help me get out of my recliner for the first few days. Walking around the house or yard for about ten minutes each hour not only helps the circulation in your legs (a real concern) but also just makes you feel better in general.
3. My catheter leg bag just didnít work for me. Either because of my large legs or my body shape, I couldnít find a chair where the bag hung low enough. I rigged up a garter belt type system with a Velcro strap above my knee and clips holding my regular 2000ml Foley bag along the calf of my leg. I alternated legs every day to avoid irritating the tip of my penis. I also lubed the tip of my penis with K-Y Jelly after showers to help avoid irritation.
4. It helped to have visitors. I didnít want them but my wife didnít give me any choice in the matter. I had a pair of ďSpongeBobĒ sleep pants that I wore around the house that served as an icebreaker. I always felt refreshed after a visit by my pastor or some friends.
5. Showers were relaxing. It may sound gross, but I followed someone elseís advice to put my towel on the floor after drying off in order to ďhang looseĒ while cleaning my bag. Riding in a car was torture. The vibrations really bothered my catheter and my hemorrhoids. I spent the vast majority of my time at home.
6. Hemorrhoids were a problem for me. With the catheter in, I really couldnít clench my muscles enough to pull things together. The good news is that all was well about six days after my catheter was removed.
Catheter removal. A much anticipated and feared event. It wasnít as bad as I expected but not as good as I hoped it would be. It was quick and uncomfortable, but not painful. There was some blood that came out with the tube but nothing serious. I felt some irritation for about two days after the removal. Donít forget to take a diaper with you for this visit. You will need it to get home.

[I]The following items are a running commentary of my recovery:[/I][B]Incontinence.[/B] This was my biggest fear, and three days after my catheter removal, I still didnít have this under control. It felt like my bladder is about a third of its original size, so I had to go frequently. I used a graduated plastic urinal to measure my volume and found it to be only 150cc.I was able to get through the daylight hours by just using a pad that sticks inside my jockey shorts (I changed this about every three hours). At night I used a full diaper, but I had to set my alarm for four hours after bedtime in order to change it before I overwhelmed it. [U]Six days after the catheter removal [/U] it was like someone just threw a switch and I regained a lot of control. Prior to this time, I didnít have any sensation of having to urinate or defecate. When these nerves came back on line, my life got a lot easier. I was able to switch to a lighter nighttime diaper and would wake up rather than wet myself. My volume measured at 325cc. My job requires moving tables and chairs in meeting rooms, so I still needed the pads as any lifting (or sneezing) caused me to release a small amount of urine. [U]Three weeks after the catheter removal[/U] I am nearly completely continent. My daytime pad lasts the entire day and I rarely soil my nighttime diaper. An exception to this is when I play my trumpet. The abdominal pressure empties my bladder when I play high notes. Sneezes are also still a problem. At this time, my volume measured 625cc.

[B]Impotence.[/B] My urologist was able to spare about half of my nerves, and I had a couple of partial erections around my catheter tube, so my hopes were high. It turns out that these were probably just caused by an irritation with the tube, so after three days, the little fellow remaind just a lump of leaky plumbing. [U]Three weeks after the catheter removal [/U] I discovered that orgasms are possible even without an erection! There may be no connection, but the timing correlated almost exactly with regaining most of my continence.

[B]Physical Strength[/B]: This is coming back quicker than I expected. After my catheter was removed, I had very few restrictions placed on me. I was able to mow, drive and walk without any serious consequences. I couldnít lift or push anything heavy and I got tired very easily. I went back to work 21 days after my surgery, but I probably should have waited an additional 10 days. [U]Three weeks after my catheter removal,[/U] I have regained much of my strength but still have not tried to push my limits. I donít get tired nearly as much from walking as I did two weeks ago. Even a single sit-up is still completely out of the question at this time.

[U][B]Overall[/B][/U], this wasnít as bad an experience as I expected. It wasnít something I would wish on anyone, but it was not overwhelming or even terribly painful.
Avoca :wave:

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