da vinci surgical system

© [2015] Intuitive Surgical, Inc.

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 of time until I got it too. And I was right. After looking at all the options to treat my disease, including the option to do nothing, I chose surgery.  Only a medical doctor can advise you what is right for your situation.

Here is a daily log of my experience starting a few days before my surgery and ending about 60 days after my surgery.

 

BIOPSY

The procedure itself took about 10-15 minutes. Now wait a week for
results.

RESULTS

One sample out of 12 comes back cancer – positive for adenocarcinoma,
Gleason’s score (3+3) = 6.

MEETING IN DOCTOR’S OFFICE

We went over my options. My urologist performs the surgical option, but gives
me the name of a top radiation oncologist to consult with.
My wife and I were informed of all the risks that
can occur during surgery – up to and including infection, death, cut bowel,
incontinence, penile implants, etc. In my opinion, a good doctor
will tell you all the risks and not sugarcoat them. All surgery presents risks,
not just prostate surgery.

Surgery Day – 6 days

PAT or Pre-Admission Testing. I had to do this within one week or nearer to my
surgery date. Went to the hospital, met with pre admission nurses who drew
blood (for blood typing) then took my vitals like blood pressure.
They weighed me, took my pulse, calculated my BMI (body mass index). I was told to
call the hospital a day before surgery to confirm my arrival time. Met with an
anesthesiologist who asked me a few questions. Do I have any loose teeth?
Any sleeping problems?  The whole thing took about 45-50 minutes.

Surgery Day – 1 day

“Bowel Prep” day- started taking colon clean-out solution. For pelvic area surgeries, they want the colon
completely empty and flexible, since the prostate gland sits right on the colon. See my post on Why Do a Bowel Cleanse Before Radical Prostatectomy.

 

Surgery Day

Da Vinci® robotic surgery scheduled for 7:30 am, so be there at 6:00 am.

Nurses prep me in a small, curtained off pre-op area.
They put white-compression socks on to help prevent blood clotting in my legs later.
Anesthesiologist stops by my small prep room / asks questions about
allergies, loose teeth, etc. My doctor/surgeon stops by too.
A nurse then comes by to wheel me over to the operating room.
This nurse tells me that she will first take about 40 minutes to prep
me, before the doctor begins. Then the doctor takes about 2 hrs. Then
recovery room is 1 to 1.5 hrs, then transport to my hospital room.
Last thing I hear is the anesthesiologist telling me she’s starting a “cocktail,”
and that’s all I remember until I woke up in recovery.

As I regain consciousness in the recovery room, I wonder how much of my
insides have been cut out, what was saved, what was spared. No way of
knowing just lying there. I really didn’t feel any pain, and I certainly didn’t feel
like I just had major surgery. All I felt was groggy from the general anesthesia.

Doctor had told my wife in the consultation room after the surgery that
everything went well.

Now in my hospital room, gradually, as the anesthesia wore off, I began to feel
some slight achiness in my stomach area – nothing major. One of the reasons
is the one inch or so incision in the belly button area. It kind of feels like the
day after you do a thousand sit ups. Compared to open or traditional surgery,
though, this is nothing, this is a walk in the park.

The doctor has left a Foley catheter installed in me during the surgery.

I’m now lying in my room in the afternoon after
having had surgery earlier that day. I’m thinking
to myself, if I forget about my groggy recovery from
anesthesia, and if I throw out the bowel prep and fasting from the previous
day, how do I really feel at this moment? Do I really feel like I just had surgery?
The answer is – no, no way.

It was about 3:00 pm that day, and I was feeling ok, all things considered. So I said,
I’m going to get up and take a walk on Day 1, what the heck. So, I asked the
nurse on duty if she could get me up for a short walk, and she yes, absolutely.
I didn’t feel like doing all that much to be honest, but it felt
good to get vertical and walk a little.

For dinner that night I was given a liquid diet – tea/consommé etc.

Surgery Day + 1 day

At about 3:00 AM, I was awake, so I asked the night nurse if I could go for a
walk, and she said, of course. So, we walked down the hall a little
further than before. It felt good. I wanted to go further, but she lowered my
expectations and said that’s enough for now.

The floor nurse on duty told me I probably won’t have a bowel movement
during my 2 night stay in the hospital.
They were going to release me after one night in the hospital, but I chose to
stay two nights – I thought the care in the hospital was fantastic, so why not take advantage of it?

Family came to see me this morning, and I was up and
walking around pretty much by that time. I felt like standing-walking so much
more. Still on IV drip, still on Foley catheter bag, but feeling better than yesterday.

I had visitors all day, and then it was a more restful night on Day 2.

Surgery Day + 2 days

Going home day – doctor says to take it real easy for the next week, no lifting
weights, NO STRADDLING – and limit time spent sitting at the computer, etc.

Doctor said I should make an appointment next week to remove catheter.
This equates to having the catheter in about 7 days after discharge from the
hospital or 9 days after da Vinci surgery.

I had heard that if you have open or traditional surgery on the prostate, you
could have the catheter in for as long as 2 -3 weeks after surgery.

At home, you can’t get
around too well, and you drop things and can’t pick them up. You’re basically
walking around like a one-armed paper hanger, because you’re holding a
catheter collection bag in one hand. So the message here is that you are
by no means independent again after only 2 days.

I checked my temperature while recuperating at home to rule out infection.
No problems here.

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