Prostate Cancer Post 6 – Day of Surgery and Next Day
Updated: May 3
Usage - This is my personal diary. You may link other web pages to this post, but you may not re-post or reuse this information without written consent from me.
Disclaimer - I am not medical professional. I am describing my experiences in hopes I may help others facing this cancer.
We had to be at the hospital by 6 AM. We woke at 4 AM so I could do the pre-surgery prep and have time for the 45–50 minute drive to the hospital.
The prep included an enema and another shower with the Hibiclens antibacterial soap. This seemed a little self-defeating to me, ‘cause I put on clothes that had not been washed in antibacterial soap, but I followed instructions. L. and I drove her car and my son C. followed in his car just in case we needed two cars for some unforeseen reason.
The hospital’s Covid rules were strict. Only one person per day could enter the hospital with me . Swapping between visitors on the same day was prohibited. The visitor had to leave the hospital by 6 PM.
Check-in was quick, but there was confusion on procedures. Because I gave L’s name/phone as the emergency contact, we assumed contact with her would be via her cell number. We learned later, after I was out of surgery, that wasn’t the case. My advice – get clear instructions on the contact method for during and after surgery.
I was called by myself into a room where several other patients were being prepped for surgery. The typical things like blood work, questionnaires, and consents were handled. I signed the consent for my surgery to be videoed, but I did request they not show my face and not post the video to YouTube!
One thing I did not expect was wearing hosiery to help keep blood clots from forming in the legs. So, here I lie in a hospital gown with white hosiery pressing against my black-haired legs. Not my best look, by any means!
Soon, the parade of anesthesiologists, nurses, trainees began after L. joined me in the prep room. I lost track of how many times I had to repeat my name, date of birth, where I was located, who the President is, why I was wearing this silly get-up (I mean, why I was at the hospital).
As if this wasn’t bad enough, a new group of several trainees appeared, and their person-in-charge asked me those same questions. Almost immediately after I answered, one of the trainees asked me the same darn questions again. I obliged, though inside I wanted to scream. I'm so glad she was not going to perform the surgery. Attentiveness did not seem to be her forte.
Around 8 AM, off I went to surgery. I've mentioned before how I didn’t get overly nervous or fearful. I figured this would be the time when I lost it, but I didn’t. It wasn’t because I was being the macho male stereotype. I was just calm.
When I entered the OR, I saw lots of people standing around. One of the ladies beside me pointed out the Da Vinci robot that the surgeon was going to drive from a computer screen. It had six or eight stainless steel or aluminum arms. For some dumb reason, it reminded me of a tick with metal legs. After viewing pictures of the robot after surgery, I wondered why that tick image popped into my brain. Maybe I was already on drugs and didn’t know it.
The anesthesiologist soon applied the mask. I had asked him in the prep room if we could have a secret signal I could send if I wasn’t knocked out completely. He told me the anesthesia always wins, and he was right. The next thing I remember, some four hours later, was L. sitting beside me in the recovery room. I did not know it was noon or later and the surgeon had somehow gotten distracted and forgot to tell L. I was out of surgery roughly 90 minutes earlier. I don’t know if she was beside herself or I just saw two of her when I turned in her direction, but I could tell she had been worried. The surgeon finally came, apologized several times, and told us the surgery could not have gone any better. That was a relief.
I remember an overwhelming urge to urinate. I had been warned this could happen, because the bladder sometimes spasms when the Foley catheter is inserted. I remember telling the nurse I had to urinate and her telling me I had a catheter. Well, I knew that already, but knowing I had a catheter did not calm my bladder. It didn't appreciate the intrusion. Finally, they gave me something that relieved me of that aggravation.
There was one alarming incident while in recovery. L. noticed my blood pressure rising steadily. The machine began beeping and I think she was calling or about to call the nurse when she noticed I had folded my arm across my chest, pinching the tube on the blood pressure cuff. Straightening my arm brought the pressure back to normal.
We were in the recovery room until around 3 PM. I could have sworn we had a room reservation and could check in immediately after I repeated my name, birthday, location, and name of the President. But man, when we got a room, it was off to the races.
I don’t know if the young lady pushing me had to meet a quota or was racing another attendant, but we were flying though the hallways. I could not focus my eyes quickly enough to make out doorways, but wheel clicks on the tile flooring were coming fast and furious. I felt like one of the Super Mario brothers in his cart and almost got dizzy. I hoped there wouldn’t be a sharp curve ahead in the hallway!
The transfer from the cart to the bed was not as smooth as I hoped. The cart was about two inches above the level of the bed, so I dropped a bit when they slid me to the bed. Yep, it hurt but only briefly. That’s when I realized I was gonna be sore for a few days, but it was not unbearable pain.
The surgeon had told me to walk that evening, so I did. L. and the nurse held my robe closed in the back, and I, in my hospital gown and white hosiery, carried the catheter bag. I got some weird looks from other patients, but I did not care. It was October 22nd, so I was just trying out my Halloween costume!
I had no appetite. I was tired and sore and trying to sit up and eat was not easy. Then, there's the hospital food. I was still on a liquid diet, so I had broth that I'm sure was made with water from the Great Salt Lake. There was some sort of frozen icy thing that tasted horrible, orange juice, and a green, jiggly thing that I assumed was lime Jello. Only a hospital can screw up Jello and boy, did they!
The night was mostly uneventful until the IV machine began beeping at about 1:15 AM. It took about 20 minutes for that be fixed. Then at 4:15 AM some guy who was way too chipper for that time of day came in to, you guessed it, ask for my name, date of birth, location, and who the President is, before drawing blood, etc. Seems like they could switch up the questions a bit, just to keep me on my toes.
I managed to walk again later that morning and then I sat in a chair. I was still sitting there when the surgeon and his assistant came to see me. I remember the assistant seemed surprised and said, “Oh, look! He’s sitting up!” The surgeon told me I did well and that not all surgeries went as well as mine. That was very reassuring.
My next test was to pass gas. That’s supposedly the signal the bowel has awakened from the anesthesia and surgery. Now, I'm thinking it’s kinda hard to generate gas from an all-liquid diet, but I played along. By 3 PM I had not passed anything, though I could feel it rumbling around. I feared I would not be released from the hospital, my first real concern. However, because I was apparently doing so well, I was released around four or five PM.
I don’t want to sugar coat things too much. I was not in debilitating pain, but it was uncomfortable to change positions in bed. I tweaked my right shoulder a bit when trying to maneuver myself higher up on the bed. I could not roll over onto my side to change positions. Sitting in the chair was not comfortable either. Any type of movement involving the abdominal muscles was uncomfortable. On the bright side, I got off the narcotic pain reliever the morning after surgery and switched to Tylenol. When I was able to do that, I kinda felt I might recover quickly from the surgical discomfort. But, there was a small surprise ahead, that I'll describe in the next post.