rmdixon (rmdixon) wrote,

TMI, By Request

There's at least one person with prostate cancer following this who requested some more specifics, so here we go. If discussion of catheters and related subjects offends you, feel free to skip this one. This one is for the guys who will have to go through this themselves.

When my surgery was done they inserted a catheter, because when they remove the prostate they completely sever the urethra and re-attach it, using the catheter as a guide. It's not normal for people to leave the hospital with Foley catheters, but in this case it's part of the healing process. They leave them in for 7 - 10 days. They blow up a balloon inside your bladder with saline solution to hold it in place.

I left the hospital with two bags, a larger "overnight bag" and a smaller "leg bag" that attached to my left leg with elastic straps.

I had the catheter in for 10 days. Initially the catheter in combination with everything else done as part of the surgery makes you feel like you need to pee like there's no tomorrow. Eventually I got kind of used to it. Sometimes I didn't notice it. Sometimes it was vaguely irritating. Sometimes it kind of burned. I made a habit of drinking a lot of fluids to keep my urinary tract flushed out, because catheters are a tremendous vector for infection. I had a careful regimen to follow of wiping the ends of the catheter and the bags with alcohol swabs to prevent infection, plus I was on an antibiotic. I also took cranberry supplements, which do a great job of combatting infections.

I was totally mobile with the leg bag, although I had to wear pants that fit loosely enough to not constrict it. The overnight bag just had to be carried around, which was kind of inconvenient, but not too bad.

Getting it out helped me appreciate how irritating it was, from a physical sense, because there's a large tube run up your urinary tract, and it can't not be somewhat odd to sit on and manage. It twists around at times and produces a varying degree of "gotta go" feeling, mainly I think because of the balloon pressing against the bladder.

The nurse told me it would be unpleasant but not painful when she pulled it out, and that's a fair characterization. Something was moving where God did not design things to move, but it was only a couple of seconds and it was done.

I had some kind of urinary control on day one. There are two muscle groups responsible for urinary control, and the prostate surgery removes the larger and more capable one. The catheter stretches out the smaller one, and it's just a question of how quickly it will rise to the challenge and do its job. Also, after ten days of not having to think about going to the bathroom, will all the parts remember how this is supposed to work? It was just a beautiful thing to be sitting in a Walmart rest room an hour after the catheter was removed and to be able to relax and go and tighten up and stop and be in some kind of control.

I've had an enlarged prostate for years, so it was a little disturbing how quickly the flow starts and how much comes out at once, but I got used to it. I just think a little thought of going and urine just gushes out, which inclines me to be careful what I wish for and to make sure I'm prepared when I do.

I was in Depends for two days for insurance, but I had pretty good control, so I went to womens' Maxi Pads after a couple of days. The control comes and goes. Near the end of the day when I get tired and am on my feet I can feel occasional warm dribbles, but after just a few days I do not appreciably fill a Maxi Pad in a full day. At no point has anything visible shown up on my pants, and I am walking 40 minutes per day. I am learning to walk in the mornings when I have more control, because it's just a weird feeling to be walking along and feeling a continual series of warm dribbles.

I still wear Depends at night, although oddly enough because I'm laying on my back I believe I'm basically dry at night. I want the extra protection against rolling around in different positions and being too sound asleep to get up and go. I'm probably getting up three times a night, but the benefit is being 99.9% dry.

This is after less than a week, and it's supposed to take a couple of months to completely heal, so I have every confidence that everything will be back to normal really soon.

From what I have been told my results are extremely good, so YMMV. Even if it takes longer, though, very few men end up with permanent incontinence problems.
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