How I Survived Prostate Cancer After da Vinci Robotic Surgery – Day to Day Log

Yes, I had prostate cancer and yes, I chose surgery to treat it.

Before we go any further, let me explain that I am not a medical doctor – far from it. In fact, I’m an accountant. So there is absolutely no assurance that anything I say that touches on medical matters is true, correct, precise or up to date. Even if a statement I make about medicine is accurate, it may not apply to you or your symptoms.

This is informational only and cannot substitute for the advice of a medical doctor.
My Story
Prostate cancer is common in my family.  My Dad had it, all of his brothers (my uncles) had it, and I knew it was probably just a matter […]

Tendency to Drop Things After Prostate Surgery

I had prostate removal surgery, and let me tell you a little about that first week at home after surgery (dropping everything).

I was 62 years old when I had da Vinci robotic prostate surgery and in pretty good overall health.  I played basketball in high school and tried to stay active in later life, kept my weight in check, and ate “right” whenever I could.  To my way of thinking, I was pretty normal, maybe even more fortunate than most.

What’s my point?  My point is that as an active guy, I normally didn’t drop stuff around the house.

After a couple of nights in the hospital, my wife drove me home on Day 3.

Now what’s important here is that after […]

Spillage of Cancer Cells During Surgery

Will cancer cells spill into my body when the surgeon is in there cutting away?  This was one of my main questions, when I was considering how to treat my prostate cancer.  Which therapy should I go with?  If I choose surgery, won’t that make things worse (in the long run) by cutting up the prostate gland in my body and spilling the cancer cells all over the place?  Over time, won’t that allow the cancer to come back  (biochemical recurrence) ?

Well you should ask your doctor about this, because I did.  And I got a very good answer (for me and my specific case).

There are things in this world called “specimen retrieval bags.”  Medical equipment companies make them.  […]

Going Back to Work After Prostate Surgery

Before I had my robotic prostate surgery, I had heard/seen some amazing stories about how fast certain guys were returning to work.  It sounded almost too good to be true, or maybe they were just cherry picking the best case scenarios.  But what is more typical – what is more reasonable?

Well, I had my prostate removed by a urologist with the assistance of a da Vinci robotic system, and all I can really talk about is what happened to me. In my case, I wanted to take my time – heal properly and not set any records.

First of all, the robotic method is designed to be less invasive, meaning less cutting, less blood loss. Instead of an open incision […]

Recovery from Prostate Surgery

 
Robotic prostate surgery recovery time
Prostate cancer runs in my family, and I knew it was only a matter of time before my number came up.  When I did get the diagnosis, I chose robotic surgery to treat MY case of prostate cancer, but there are many other excellent therapies available.  You can only decide what to do for your case of prostate cancer by consulting your medical doctor.

How was my recovery from prostate surgery?  Let me say that just as every human being is different, so is every case of prostate cancer.  And the last thing in the world I would recommend is to compare your case with anyone else’s case, including my own.  Yes, you can get a […]

How Soon Are You Up After Robotic Prostate Surgery?

Before I went in for da Vinci robotic prostate surgery, my doctor told me, “we let you rest on the day of surgery, but then get you up the next day.”  Ok, that sounded reasonable to me.

In the back of my mind, I recall reading how some doctors recommend you get vertical after surgery, walk a few steps – if you can. It helps to get the blood flowing.  However, you have to follow your own doctor’s orders.

In my particular case, after the robotic surgery, I was wheeled up to my hospital room at about 12:00 noon, as I recall. Then at about 3:00 pm, I asked the nurse if I could get up and walk, knowing that my […]

Prostate surgery prep shaving – Should I shave my groin?

Before I went in for da Vinci prostate surgery, I wondered if I needed to shave my groin area. I don’t remember anyone saying anything to me about this. I thought,  “should I help them out and shave my groin?  They probably want me to do this. This will save a step, right?”

No, no, no.

About a week before my surgery, I had to go in for preadmission testing – click here for my post on prostate surgery preadmission details.

So I casually asked the preadmission nurse, do I need to shave my groin before surgery day?

No, she told me. We will do it during the surgical prep phase, if we need to.

Ok, but why you and not me?

One of the […]

6 Incredible Stories of How I Pee Better After Prostate Surgery

These are MY stories.  All I can talk about is what happened to me after prostate surgery. All cases of prostate cancer are different. Your experience might be better or worse than mine.

Story #1  First Experience After Prostate Surgery

After my prostate surgery, I was at home taking it easy when the day arrived to have the catheter removed in the doctor’s office. My wife drove me over there and ten minutes later, the catheter was out.

Later that afternoon, I was lying on the sofa taking a nap, when I felt this slight urge to “go.” Why is it that when you sleep or take a nap, you have to take a whizz right after you wake up? What is […]

How A Prostate Biopsy Fooled Me Into Thinking I was Ok

MY PROSTATE BIOPSY SAID NO CANCER – WRONG !
If you have read some of my other posts, you know that prostate cancer runs in my family, so I had been carefully monitoring my PSA over the years.

As you can see from the chart above, my PSA was rising slowly at a more or less “regular” rate (tied to aging) until about 2010. Then it shot up quickly to the 5 range and then just as quickly to the 7 range.

What happened? When I saw the results, I immediately called the PSA testing lab and told them that they must have made a mistake – I need a re-test. The girl on the other end of the line sounded confused, […]

Why My Doctor Uses the da Vinci Robot to Remove Cancerous Prostate Glands

The doctor who performed my prostatectomy was – like most urologists – originally trained to do the traditional or “open” type of prostate removal surgery. That’s where they make a 4″ to 6” incision in your groin and go in manually to remove your prostate.

Then the da Vinci Surgical System received approval in the U.S. and some doctors got on the robotic bandwagon and some did not. Today they have a choice – they can choose to do it the traditional (open) way or the robotic way.

There’s no doubt in my mind that the robotic method offers certain clear and distinct advantages compared to traditional or open surgery. There’s no argument there. Why? Because less invasive surgery offered by […]

Why is a Bowel Cleanse Necessary for a da Vinci Robotic Prostatectomy?

Yes, I had to do a bowel cleanse before my prostate surgery, just as I had to do before a routine colonoscopy. You know the program – first drink this fluid and then the toilet becomes your new-best friend for the next 12 hours or so.

But why?

Why do you have to go through this not-very-pleasant experience before prostate surgery?

I did some research and came up with two possible explanations.
#1) To clean the intestine of stool, food particles and fecal matter to reduce the chances of infection.
The thinking is that if you do a bowel cleanse before major abdominal or pelvic surgery, you lower your chances of infection. Since the prostate is located deep inside the abdomen, if there is […]

One Day After da Vinci Prostate Surgery

It was 3:00 a.m. on the day after surgery, and I was awake in bed. So I decided to ask the night-shift nurse if I could get up and walk, and she said sure.  She unhooked my compression socks from the machine at the foot of the bed, unplugged my IV stand from the wall (to go on battery), and we proceeded to take a walk down the hall – and went a slightly further distance than my first walk (about 12 hours prior).

It felt good. I was trying to get my recovery moving along, you know, get the blood circulating. We walked all the way to the “window” this time and back. I wanted to go further, but […]

Surgery Day: Da Vinci Robotic Prostate Surgery

This is how my surgery day went. Yours may be similar or different. Every case of prostate cancer is unique.
SURGERY DAY – My da Vinci robotic surgery is scheduled for 7:30 am, so I was told to arrive by 6:00am.

Nurse’s first prep me in a small, curtained off area, insert IV’s in both arms, because they want to use one in the operating room and one for backup. They take more blood samples.

White-compression socks are put on my lower legs to help prevent blood clotting.

I had used the Hibiclens® antiseptic cleanser in the shower at home. Don’t have to scrub hard, just make contact with the skin. Then at the hospital, a staff person gave me what I think […]

One Day Before da Vinci Prostate Surgery

Pretty soon it’s go time. Tomorrow is surgery day, and I’m supposed to be there first thing in the morning. My instructions: do not eat solid foods today, just clear liquids. The goal, I believe, is to clean out the colon. But why?

I think it has something to do with the fact that the prostate gland sits right next to, or on top of, the colon and when your doc is removing the prostate, he needs that nearby colon tissue to be empty and flexible and pliable.

I think cleaning out the colon is also standard practice for any surgery to lower the chances of infection.

So step #1 is no solid food today, and step #2 is start drinking the […]

Pre Admission Testing: One Week Before Prostate Surgery

For the hospital that I was scheduled to have my da Vinci robotic surgery in, the guideline was to make an appointment one week or earlier, before my surgery date, for P.A.T. or Pre Admission Testing.

The pre admission nurses pretty much ran the show for this meeting. I filled out forms, and they drew blood for blood typing – I guess in case I needed some extra blood during surgery. However, my doctor told me this was highly unlikely, because the blood loss in da Vinci robotic surgery is really low. (And that turned out to be true).

Next they took my vitals like weight, pulse, BMI (body mass index), and blood pressure (which was surprisingly low at 110/66 for […]

Prostate Nerve Sparing: How I Tried to Lobby My Doctor

Ok, I had been diagnosed with prostate cancer and had scheduled da Vinci robotic surgery at the local hospital with my urologist. What am I thinking now?

I’m thinking about how – in a few short weeks – I am going to be in an operating room, knocked out, and my doctor is going to be snipping away down there in my groin area. How much is he going to take out?   Is he going to preserve my nerve bundles, or isn’t he?

So I called him up to “lobby” for my case. “… Doctor, I just want to remind you that of the 12 needle samples you took in my biopsy, only one showed any sign of prostate cancer. And […]

Prostate Biopsy: The Suprising Truth About How 2 Biopsies Can Be So Different

Yes, I had prostate cancer and, yes, I chose surgery to treat it. You may choose another form of therapy for your case, but there is one thing I found quite interesting about the surgical choice.

After prostate surgery, you learn your WHOLE cancer story. How much prostate cancer did I actually have (volume)? How widespread was it (staging)? How aggressive was it (grading)? Did the cancer leak out of the prostate gland and possibly spread or was it “organ confined?”

These are questions that can only be answered fully after the entire gland is removed during surgery and examined under a microscope in a lab. There the pathologist can analyze your entire prostate gland including other nearby tissue like seminal […]

One Man’s PSA History: the Rise to Prostate Cancer and the Fall After Prostate Surgery

Prostate cancer runs rampant in my family. I won’t bore you with the details, but it seems like most of the guys in my family are diagnosed with the disease when they hit their 60’s or 70’s.

So as a younger guy, this definitely got my attention. What to do? For starters, I was way more vigilant in checking my PSA level than your average Joe might have been.

As you can see from the graph below, I had been experiencing a pretty-steady, but slow rise over the years – then a big jump from PSA level 3 to 7 in one year.

I had a feeling it (prostate cancer) was coming, but when it looked like it had finally arrived, I […]

The Truth Behind a Prostate Biopsy – What Is It Really Like?

What is it like to get a prostate biopsy? Well, all I can do is tell you how my procedure went, but from reading about others’ experiences, it seems like mine was fairly typical.

It all starts, of course, with a bad PSA score or a fast-rising PSA score or maybe a suspicious DRE (digital rectal exam). And your doctor says, “I think we should do a biopsy.”

At first I thought that I’d have to go to a local hospital for the test, but my doctor performs it in his office. We set up an appointment, and he had me take an antibiotic before (and after) the procedure.

The official medical name for the procedure I received is a Trans-rectal Ultrasound […]

Won’t My Prostate Cancer Spill Into My Body if I Have Surgery?

This is one of the questions I had before going in for prostate surgery. Ok, so my doctor is about to remove my prostate gland, which the biopsy has already said is cancerous. Is he going to slice it up in my body before he takes it out? If so, aren’t some of those cancer cells going to leak out into my body and stay behind even after the cancerous gland is removed? That can’t be a good thing.

For me, the quick answer was – nothing should leak out, and here’s why. (All I can talk about is my case – you have to talk to your doctor about how he handles this.)

When I had robotic prostatectomy, the surgeon […]

The Urological Trifecta after Radical Prostatectomy – What is it exactly?

Most of us have heard of the word, trifecta, especially as used in the horse racing world, but it can also mean “winning” three things in a row – a triple win if you will. Well urologists also use the term for men who undergo a radical prostatectomy or complete removal of the prostate.

What exactly is the trifecta or triple win after prostate surgery? It’s a very ambitious undertaking to accomplish three goals for you, the patient.
Trifecta Goal #1 Control and/or eliminate the prostate cancer in your body.
This of course has to be the most important goal of any treatment for prostate cancer – take care of the number one problem – eliminate the disease from your body.
Trifecta Goal […]

5 Reasons Why I’m Glad I chose da Vinci for my Prostate Cancer Surgery

1) The prostate cancer is gone.
My doctor told me I had prostate cancer, and I’m a relatively young-ish guy (62) and in pretty good health and expect to live at least 20 years or more. Watchful waiting or active surveillance – no way, not for me. I chose the “gold standard” for treating organ-confined prostate cancer. That is, surgical removal (prostatectomy) by an experienced urologist with the assistance of a da Vinci robot.

It worked fantastically for treating my case of cancer, and how do I know that? Easy, I got my PSA tested after surgery and it went to zero, or undetectable, or <.01 ng/mL. Because my PSA level went to zero (or undetectable) after surgery and has stayed […]

Bloating: What is the Real Story after Robotic Prostate Surgery?

Ok, I’ve read a lot of stories online about men who have had robotic prostate surgeries, and I occasionally hear them complaining about their “bloating” problem. Ironically, an old friend of mine also told me about how he helped somebody out after prostate surgery. He picked him up at the hospital and drove him home, and the first thing he mentioned to me was how this guy had a “bloating” problem.

In yet another online story, a surgery patient actually suggested that you pack a loose-fitting pair of pants to go home in, because your waist line is too bloated up. (Well, I believe you should wear some loose fitting pants, but not for the same reason. I say it’s […]

What is the Recovery Period Like After Prostate Surgery?

Robotic prostate surgery recovery time
What’s the recovery period like after robotic prostate surgery?  When can I go back to work after prostate surgery?

If you are considering the da Vinci robotic form of prostate surgery, I just went through it, and I can tell you how the recovery period went for me.

First, I spent a couple of days in the hospital – could have been sent home after one night – but I decided to stay.  I had a private room, was getting great care, and was able to walk around the floor whenever I wanted to.  Why go home?

After two nights in the hospital, I was discharged and sent home.  Suggestion: make sure you know how to work the […]

3 Things I Don’t Miss After Prostate Surgery

1) Dull Pelvic Pain
I occasionally had this dull ache somewhere deep down in the groin area. I don’t know why exactly, but my guess is that it had something to do with an enlarged and inflamed prostate gland. Throw in a little long-term prostatitis and there you have a number of reasons for this kind of pelvic ache.

Once in a while, it would even flare up to a point where it felt like a mule had kicked me in the rear end.

It never stopped me from doing anything, and I never took anything for it. But it was there a lot of the time, and I had it for so long, it was easy to forget about it on […]

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