Preparing for a Home Recovery.
If you can possibly afford it, rent a hospital bed to sleep in for the first week. I could not get comfortable in my bed at home, no matter what I tried. Initially, you will probably want to be propped up.
You will need to have someone waiting on you 24 hours a day during the first few days at home. If your family cannot do this, hire someone to help. Have a backup plan. My wife was to provide my care and she came down with the flu the day I came home. I would have been helpless except for family, friends and neighbors who stepped in to assist. I cannot imagine what it would have been like without their help.
You will learn to hate the anti-clot stockings but don’t stop wearing them until the Dr. says it’s OK. Because of the catheter, you cannot slip on a pair of pants or underwear or PJs unless you drop the bag through the leg opening first. If you can find PJs that button up the right side, you’re in luck. We took a normal set of PJs and modified them by cutting a 24” slice down the right side and adding snaps that could be used to close the gap after putting them on. We also added a tie at the waistline. I simply did not wear underwear until after the catheter had been removed.
I mentioned that you want your bowel movements to be soft. If you bear down to excrete a hard bowel movement, it pushes where the prostate used to be (and where the urethra with the catheter inside it is left.) In my case, this would cause a bloody fluid to come out the end of the penis around the catheter as well as some amount of pain. It’s much better to get on a stool softener with the first solid food and avoid overeating.
After a few days on the stool softener, my bottom started to burn and itch. Later it even bled a little. Washing with cool water helped as did the application of antibiotic ointment. Diaper rash ointment also helped.
I discovered later that a fiber laxative such as Metamucil, was just as effective and did not have the disadvantage of the burning caused by the chemical stool softeners. I recommend starting Metamucil as soon as you start solid foods. I continued using the prune juice too.
After coming home from the hospital, I was showering approximately every other day. It felt good to be clean but trying to keep the incision dry was difficult. Water did not hurt the staples but it made the tape come loose. After two weeks, I started showering every day.
Dealing With a Catheter
The catheter (and urine bag) will most likely be in place for two weeks. This apparatus does not make for a pleasant partner. The bag has to be emptied frequently. If you’re walking around, it can get heavy. In the hospital, the nurse modified the IV stand with some tape to make a place to hang the bag. At home, I used the belt loop in my robe to hang it from when I was up walking. You will need a place to hang it near your bed. Be innovative but plan it out before you get home from the hospital.
I quickly got into the habit of emptying the bag whenever I got up from a nap so I would not be hauling extra weight around. My wife referred to the bag emptying as “virtual urination.”
The catheter is held in place by a liquid filled balloon inside the bladder.
You will want to keep the urine bag BELOW the level of your bladder at all times. Supposedly, the bag has a valve that prevents the urine from flowing backwards but I’m not convinced that mine was working properly. It felt really creepy whenever the bag was held higher than normal. Climbing stairs was a little awkward at first. There were times when it felt like air was being forced back into the bladder. This could be avoided mostly by moving slowly and not making sudden movements while walking. You will also want to walk so as to prevent the bag from swinging back and forth.
I had an issue with my catheter after about 12 days. The adhesive foam pad that was used to anchor the swivel to the inside of my thigh started to come loose. I was told that you can typically buy replacements at pharmacies that are located next to hospitals but we could not find any and ended up going to the ER where they gave us one for free.