Coping after surgery for prostate cancer

Here are some tips that you may want to consider while coping after surgery for prostate cancer (such as radical prostatectomy, which is the medical term for prostate removal):

Always discuss these tips with a qualified medical professional to be sure they are appropriate for
your specific situation.

  • Ask your doctor about using Neosporin, or another antibiotic ointment, around the area of the catheter tubing (which is inserted into the penis during surgery), to help prevent chafing and infection.
  • Ask at the hospital if you can get both a small urine collection bag (which straps to the leg and is more discreet for public outings), as well as a large one that can be worn around the house.
  • Consider limiting visitors the first few days after his surgery for prostate cancer so your loved one gets plenty of rest.
  • If you have pets at home, you might want to lock them out of the bedroom at night, or make sure your loved one protects his stomach with a pillow. The last thing he needs is a cat or dog jumping up on his belly.
  • To help avoid accidents, empty the urine collection bag before it is close to full.
  • Emptying the urine collection bag should not be difficult (a nurse or hospital educator should show you), but it does require concentration and teamwork. Discuss who will do what ahead of time to help avoid accidents.
  • When you are emptying the urine collection bag, try to avoid lifting the catheter tubing up too high. It creates a “peculiar” sensation that may not be appreciated!
  • Your man will probably need your support getting in and out of the shower (if your shower is inside a bathtub) the first few days.
  • During a shower, you can place the urine collection bag in a clean plastic tub (like a mop pail), and set it on the floor outside the shower.
  • At night, you can also place the urine collection bag inside a clean plastic bucket next to the bed. If your loved one needs to remain in bed, you can also use a second bucket for emptying the bag. Once emptied, place the bag back in the first bucket.
  • If your loved one drops the soap in the shower, you may need to pick it up for him (as he probably won’t be able to bend down), so you may want to stay nearby while he’s showering.
  • When your man is ready to take his first walk outside, consider turning around well before he feels tired. Or be prepared to get your car to drive him back if he gets too exhausted.
  • During his first walk, you can hide the large urine collection bag in a big shopping bag, if you don't want to cope with the smaller urine collection bag. This will avoid having to empty the smaller bag on the street if your walk takes longer than expected.
  • Your loved one may sleep a lot the first few days, which will give you time to catch up on housework—or rest yourself.

Updated 3/11

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