Prostate Cancer Post 4 - Pre-Surgery Prep
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Disclaimer - I am not medical professional. I am describing my experiences in hopes I may help others facing this cancer.
L. was a life saver in pre-surgery preparation. She thought of things I would never have thought about:
Pajama pants to wear home from the hospital.
Loose fitting pants and shirts that would not aggravate sore abdominal muscles.
Slip-on shoes to make it easier to change urine collection bags and clothing while the catheter is in place.
Soft foods for the first few days at home and getting back on a regular diet.
Pads to protect the bed and furniture.
Baby wipes, or similar for hygiene purposes.
Thirteen days before surgery, I visited a female physical therapist and lost more modesty. We discussed what to do before and after surgery, and then she told me she needed to check my pelvic floor muscles, because they are important for kegel exercises and incontinence recovery. She attached me to a computer via sensors in the pelvic area, much like being attached to an ECG machine, except in a more private location. She instructed me how to breath while performing kegels and we watched a graph of my contractions on the computer screen.
I really impressed myself. When I contracted, the graph almost maxed at the top of the screen, but the therapist told me that was not good. I was contracting too hard for the state my muscles would be in after surgery, so I had to back off. Also, I was breathing incorrectly. I should exhale when contracting and inhale when releasing.
After seeing how strongly I contracted the muscles, I was sure I had aced the course, but I got a B+ instead for not breathing correctly and contracting too hard.
We live about fifty minutes from the hospital, so the doc scheduled all the pre-surgery testing for the same day in a four-hour window. I spoke with the doctor at 10 AM, then went next door to the hospital for all the health evaluations and testing.
The nurse began by telling me we need a urinalysis. I stopped her in her tracks and told her I need to do that now! She was a good sport and off we went to the restroom. We then discussed my medical history, previous surgeries, etc. Next up was an ECG (a.k.a EKG) so the surgeon would know my normal heart activity in case something happened during the operation. Then a chest X-ray was followed by a drive-through Covid-19 test.
We were exhausted and hungry, but L. had prepared for that too, with a picnic lunch. We sat in the parking lot and began eating, but were disturbed by men using leaf blowers in the parking lot. I had seen them and thought they were moving away from the area where I parked, but they backtracked. So, lunch wasn’t the quiet, relaxing atmosphere we hoped for and needed. And, it was rather warm that day so we had to roll windows up. There were plenty of empty cars nearby. Why the guys couldn't blow leaves around them, I do not know.
Let’s talk about supplies a bit. I ordered two types of Depends undergarments – Fit Flex Maximum Absorbency and Night Defense. Laura ordered those protection pads I mentioned earlier, which are roughly 36” X 36.” Later, I ordered Incontinence Guards, which are inserts you can stick inside the Depends or your undergarments.
I'm gonna jump ahead a bit to the time after the catheter was removed and I needed those Depends items. The Night Defense purchase was a mistake for me. They were advertised to provide long-term protection, but I leaked much less at night than at other times. When you lie down, there's less pressure on the bladder. Perhaps Night Defense was designed to cover situations in which you may not wake during the night if needed, but that wasn’t a problem for me. In fact, I could tell better when I need to urinate during the night (and I woke automatically) than I could when active during the day. Also, Night Defense garments are bulkier and less comfortable than the Maximum Absorbency model and they do not hold up to repeated replacement of the Guards inserts like the Maximum Absorbency model. If I had it to do over, I would purchase only the Maximum Absorbency garments and the Guards.
To give you some idea of how many you may need, I've used roughly 128 Depends and 210 Guards, at three months after surgery. At first, I used only the Depends during the times I had the heaviest incontinence. Then, I learned about the Guards, purchased them (they're cheaper) and began changing only the Guards during the day and the Depends at night.
Those 36” X 36” pads were not necessary for me. L. placed one underneath the bottom sheet of the bed to protect the mattress cover and mattress. I slept on top of another one while wearing the catheter and after catheter removal. I used one on the furniture when sitting. Though I never needed them, they provided a comfort level and relieved the potential stress of having to deal with an accident.