Well at 6:30 am Friday morning I was admitted into the hospital to have my prostate surgery. I was taken to my room where a nurse checked me in officially, where my temperature, blood pressure were taken and all pre operation questions were asked. I was told what to expect, what would happen and at what time I would be going to the operating room. To the minute someone was there and I was being transported to the operating and with an anxious feeling and at the same time a feeling of relief I knew that the operation was going to happen.
As I passed into the waiting area inside the Nursing station waiting room recovery room one of the people standing at the desk said, “Look he is smiling guess he thinks he is going to meet some of his friends”, to which I replied, ” I would sure like to think that I am”. It was then that the anesthesiologist introduced himself and told me that all was going to be just fine and that he was going to be my new best friend for a while to come. He informed me that in 13 minutes I was going to be taken into operating theater 13 and that they were going to take great care of me. Outside the operating theater I was given some non slip slippers and ask to walk into the room and get up on the bed and I did. I was taped down and the anesthesiologist put in an IV and told me that I was going to be put to sleep as soon as the surgeon arrived. My doctor arrived told me that everything was a go and that was the last thing I remembered until I awoke in the recovery room.
I must confess that the greatest fear I have is being put to sleep and so when my eyes popped open in the recovery room there was a big grin on my face and every time someone asked how I was doing I said excellent. I was uncomfortable as the manipulation of my insides gave me the feeling that I had to move my bowels, but of course I did not because I was empty. The nurse gave me something to lessen the feeling and I drifted in and out and off to sleep for sometime. I was on the operating table for approximately 6 hours and came out minus a prostate, minus a sphincter, minus the cancer and had gained 3 new appendages in the form of a catheter in my penis, a drainage tube in my left side and an IV in my left wrist. I was allowed nothing to drink or eat and I was hungry enough to eat the arsehole of a skunk and thirsty enough to drink the urine of a camel, but they would not even allow me that. For some reason maybe the way they had me taped down I could not fully move my arms without pain and great effort and my doctor said it all would return but he had never heard of this happening before. I said okay, but I made it my mission to keep moving my arms and wrists bending and fingers wiggling trying to keep the circulation flowing through them. The next time the nurse and the resident ask how I was feeling I again responded excellent and they were ready to ship me back to my room on the ward.
Once back on the ward I tried to get something to drink and eat but was told only sips of water and not a lot of those, so I closed my eyes and tied to rest. I was only allowed Tylenol every 6 hours for pain, because my doctor does not believe in narcotics for pain unless you really need it. Aside from the snoring guy in the bed next to mine there was little else to stop me from resting and so until about 8 pm that is exactly what I did, never forgetting to exercise my still aching arms, while I was awake.
Around 9pm I asked the nurse what I needed to do to home the next day and she told me that I had to be walking on my own and I needed to pass gas, and that burping was not what they had in mind. The nurse explained that walking would help with the latter. I asked if I could get up and walk and she said of course, but I would have to be sitting up in a chair for 10 minutes before any walking could be done. The nurse helped me stand up and I sat in the chair. The room began to spin almost instantly; my stomach lurched trying to give up things that were not in it and I broke out in a cold sweat. I was now sitting with cold compresses on my neck and forehead. The only thing that I could compare the feeling to unfortunately was when I had taken too much cocaine and my system had to get rid of it so I would have to sit down on the toilette with my head between my knees and wait for that cold sweat to burst through my forehead expelling the excess drugs with it. Instantly the dizziness would stop and all of the other ill feelings of the drug and you would be okay as long as you did not ingest more and so it was with me on my first attempt to stand.
After the 10 minutes was up and the sweats had passed my IV was hooked to a pole and I was off walking down the halls of the hospital and continued to walk at 1/2 hour intervals. It took me until the next morning to pass gas, but I was determined to go home. Morning finally came and breakfast of tea, jello and apple juice was set before me and just as I was about to dig in my nurse entered and said do not eat anything or drink anything until the doctor sees you he is on the floor and is coming soon. This male nurse does not know how close he came to me striking him lol, I was just so hungry and to have that food sitting in front of me unable to eat it was just too much for me to deal with.
After about 2 hours the resident did come in and ask me how I was feeling and asked did I walk and did I pass gas, to which I answered yes. He told me to inhale and then pulled out the drainage tube from my side. Well let me say this if you have ever had a sliver pulled out of you then you understand how having this long thing pulled out of you feels. It does not hurt but makes you feel queezy as the length is being drawn through you. It was at least 2 feet long. There was no need to take out the IV, the nurse had done that earlier in the morning. Before leaving the resident told me that I would indeed be leaving that day, but would have to wait until my surgeon talked to me and that finally I could eat. I passed on the tea now cold, but gobbled down the jello like it was a steak and drank down the flat apple juice like it was a fine wine.
Finally it was time to go and the nurse came and gave me the speech about what I could do and what I could not, what to expect and who to call if something was bothering me. I was shown how to change and keep the urine bags clean and the surrounding area (the catheter tube). Keeping this area clean is necessary to avoid getting an infection in the urinary tract. Showering would not be possible for 3 days after I arrived home and I could only run water over the area containing the stitches of which there was 13 with the same amount of staples holding them together. If at any time you notice oozing from any of the incisions you must inform your doctor right away. These staples along with the catheter would come out exactly 7 days after leaving the hospital as long as when they took x-rays 7 days later and filled my bladder and had me empty it everything was fine. It was the longest week of my life, the catheter is not comfortable although there is no pain. Moving your bowels is difficult at the best of time but they give you something to take to keep you soft.
Seven days later it is time to return to the hospital and have the x-ray, get the staples and the catheter out and begin the journey to urinary incontinence recovery. The staples you will be pleased to hear come off easily and painlessly. The removal of the catheter is also painless. My bladder is filled by a nurse and emptied by me for the 2nd time in 2 hours and all is well. The doctor says if my ability to gain an erection returns before I return to him in 30 days I am not to have sex, with that in mind I am free to go. Just to walk without having the catheter inside of me is such a great feeling that I smile, give thanks to God for seeing me through this operation and I am homeward bound.
There is to be no heavy lifting on my part for up to 18 months, not even 5 pounds for the first 30 days. All that is left to do now is deal with the urine incontinence problem and in the next post I will tell you how that is going and the options for protecting oneself while working it out. The urine incontinence can last 1-3 months so it is important to use protection during this period and continue to do the exercises that your therapist gave you to do. You must develop confidence in your ability to hold your urine back so although you must wear protection it is equally important not to at times to test your progress and insure that you are not depending solely on the protective wear to keep you dry, instead of working to control the flow. You must let the gas come out, or you will be in pain. This I found to be very embarrassing and for my fist week at home I allowed no visitors and I stayed in the house, so that I would not feel compelled to hold the gas in and minimize embarrassing moments.
The operation is painless and only Tylenol is required to ease some discomfort. I would say that the most difficult time of all of this is will be the catheter and the urinary incontinence. I can say that I have found that if you follow the few basic rules and instructions given to you that you will come through this journey with minimal pain and recovery time.
Please note that because there is very little or no pain there is a tendency for the patient to think they are healed more than they are and do more than they should during recovery leading to post operation complications resulting in longer recovery times and pain.
My next post about prostate cancer and the removal of one’s prostate will discuss how I found dealing with the catheter in place and after its removal. I will talk about what worked for me as far as protection goes and the pros and cons of each type of protection available, as I see it.
- Chief Of Surgery Gives My Spot To Another Person / Why Mine? (archemdis.wordpress.com)
- My Prostate Cancer Surgery Cancelled For Lack Of Hospital Bed, What Next? (archemdis.wordpress.com)
- There Is No Good Cancer No Matter How Slow No Matter How Good The Recovery Rate (archemdis.wordpress.com)
- Urology journal finds robotic prostate surgery not meeting expectations (slashgear.com)