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Happy Couple
Prostate cancer treatment can cause significant trauma and major disruption to the body's basic functions. The level of dysfunction will differ greatly from one patient to the next, as each patient’s body will react and heal in its own unique way. The differences are due to a multitude of factors; type of cancer cells, Gleason scale, extent of surgery or treatment, physical conditioning, the bodies receptivity to healing -- the list is as varied as each individuals DNA.
The following insights, sourced from fellow prostate cancer patients, are meant to serve as guide posts to help you mentally prepare for your recovery journey ahead.
  • IMMEDIATELY FOLLOWING TREATMENT: 'Do not get carried away by doing too much the first day. You will feel limited pain because some of the pain medication from surgery is still active in your system. If you do too much the first day, you may pay in the days that follow, after the meds leave your system.'

  • HYDRATION IS CRITICAL: The first few days after surgery you need lots of water to allow your system to work through the immediate side effects of treatment. Your first recovery mantra should be Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.

  • HYGIENE: Maintaining good hygiene is critical to progressing swiftly toward full recovery. Adequately preparing your living space before treatment will help make this more attainable. Review the Recovery Checklist for more detail

  • EXPECT PLUMBING ISSUES:  'Once the catheter is removed the ability for you to resume bladder and sexual function will be greatly compromised and troublesome. Resuming normal bladder and sexual control will be among the most challenging obstacles to overcome during your recovery process. The level of dysfunction and recovery will vary greatly from one patient to another.'

  • INCONTINENCE, EXPLAINED IN LAYMEN'S TERMS:  'Articles written by the medical community or advertisers regarding bladder control use simple words like ‘incontinence, leakage or urinary incontinence’ to categorize the issue​​.

    • Medical explanation: ‘it is totally normal to have difficulty holding your urine after the catheter is removed. This is called urinary incontinence and may last for up to one year. Most patients use pads or adult diapers to control leaking urine’.

    • The truth is: in most cases, you will positively experience some level of dysfunction in holding your urine after treatment. Your bladder will have gone rogue. This is mainly due to the proximity of the prostate gland to the bladder, urinary tract bowel system, nerves and muscles. Not being able to control your bladder may be "normal" to the medical community, but not being able to pee is anything but normal. The issue of bladder dysfunction will become the most difficult element to manage throughout the recovery process.'

  • POST SURGERY CONSTIPATION:  'It will take from 4-6 days after surgery until your body is ready to allow you to have a bowel movement. The first and second bowel movements will most likely be hard as a rock. Make sure you take the stool softeners daily. Bowel movements will get easier after a while. You may experience a watery stool a few times, but this is nothing to worry about.'

  • THIS TOO WILL PASS: 'The bowel movement issues will be impacted by treatment, but not nearly as challenging as the urinary and sexual dysfunction. The bowel and urine systems are so close together, they are like siblings that live together in the same house competing for attention after the surgery.  Both systems will flex their muscles until they work out their problems and agree on ways to coexist.'

  • KEGELS ARE KEY: 'If you are not familiar with Kegel Exercises, you need to not only become aware of them, but you should add them to your daily routine immediately. When you cannot control your urine, the urgency in mastering these exercises will become very apparent.'

  • CATHETER & GRAVITY: 'The catheter is constructed to always flow into the bag. As long as the bag is lower than your body there will be no problem. The hose can even be in a U shape!'

  • SECURE THE BAG:  'You'll want to avoid allowing the catheter to come loose when putting on your clothes or moving around. If it slips, be prepared for short term (pain) and long term consequences (rash, chafing, etc.).'

  • STRAPS, STRINGS, ETC - The MacGyver Approach: 'I did not have any information regarding how to stabilize my catheter, so I attached a string or shoulder strap onto the hose just under the lowest hose regulator valve. The string limits the pulling down of the tube on your penis. You can easily slip the string on and off. Most likely I wouldn't need to go the string route had I known about purchasing a Catheter strap, Velcro strips and/or ACE bandage.

  • YEAST INFECTION MAY OCCUR: 'Once the catheter is removed, frequent monitoring and changing of diapers whenever it necessary is critical. The combination of leakage and a humid diaper can lead to yeast infection.' (See Post-Catheter Recovery)

  • LISTEN TO YOUR BODY - STRESS IS REAL: 'Your body has defense mechanisms at work 24/7 to protect us, even when we are unaware of the tension building up within us. Be aware that actual and subconscious stress is a normal response to having cancer, and the trauma caused by the treatments can result in a wide variety of  stress symptoms. You and your caregiver need to monitor your body reactions to alleviate any negative reactions.'

  • SEXUAL DYSFUNCTION: 'For many patients recovering from a prostate cancer treatment, the inability to perform is often the most complex element of the recovery process. It not only impacts the patient in the most private arena of their personal life, it also deeply affects the relationship with another person. The physiology and psychology of the sex drive is already complicated enough without adding the dysfunction into the mix. The medical community offers a range of counseling and support services for patients. Don't be afraid to look into these options if you can use the support.'


DISCLAIMER: THE INFORMATION FOUND ON THIS WEBSITE IS NEITHER WRITTEN BY MEDICAL PRACTITIONERS, NOR DOES IT CLAIM TO BE QUALIFIED MEDICAL ADVICE. All content is written by fellow Cancer Patients that have gone through their own cancer recovery process. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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