This is part 4 in a series of articles dealing with prostate cancer and my first-hand experiences with receiving the diagnosis, pre-operative activities, the day of the surgery, and the post-operative recovery process.
I want others who have to deal with the reality of prostate cancer and ultimately prostate removal to understand what it entails. Hopefully these articles will make it easier and less mysterious to others who have to go through it.
Since my wife and I live about 2 hours from the hospital where the surgery (Robotic Prostatectomy) will take place, we rented a room for 2 nights at a motel close to the hospital. Yesterday, the day before the surgery, involved 2 appointments which were detailed in my previous article. After taking the Magnesium Citrate (which pretty much cleans you out), yesterday around 2:00PM it took about 2-3 hours to kick in. So after that, I was running to the bathroom almost every 30 – 60 minutes.
That pretty much lasted through the night until I woke up the next morning very early for the surgery. To be honest, I even went to the bathroom at the hospital after we arrived at 6AM. So, do not expect to get any real sleep the night before surgery but that’s OK, afterwards you will have plenty of time to rest.
In my pre-operative appointment the day before surgery I received a sheet detailing the steps I had to take in preparation of the surgery.
Robotic Prostatectomy Surgery Day Checklist
- Arrive at the hospital at 6AM for the 7:30AM surgery.
- Do not drink anything after midnight the night before.
- Take my daily blood pressure medicine and acid reflux medicine as usual with the smallest sip of water.
- Leave all jewelry, money, and anything of value at home.
- Please shower on the morning of surgery but do not apply anything like deodorant, lotions, hair gel, after shave, etc after the shower.
On that morning, I made sure my wife and I both had our cell phone alarms set to wake up at approximately 4:30AM. I showered per the checklist and didn't use any deodorant or hair gel after the shower. Since I was pretty weak from no real food the previous day and hardly any sleep, my wife drove me to the hospital even though I probably could have.
It was about 15 minutes from the motel and at that time of the morning there was essentially no real traffic. We got there about 5:45AM, checked in at the hospital front reception area and the receptionist directed us to the elevator to go up to the surgery reception area.
When we got to the surgery reception area I checked in and the receptionist in this area had me on her list, which was good, but she didn't have any of my wrist bands which they put on you at the beginning of the day. The wrist bands display your name, birth date, sex, age, hospital account number, and bar codes that are constantly scanned during the time you are in the hospital so that everything is tracked.
The fact that she didn't have my wrist bands was a little disconcerting to me but I sat down and waited for her to go find them in the back somewhere. She came out shortly with them so that made my wife and I feel a little better.
Shortly thereafter she directed my wife and I to a pre-surgery hospital room where I removed my clothes and put on a johnny or a hospital gown. I wore my pajama bottoms slippers, and a shirt to the hospital that day because I knew I would be wearing loose clothes when I exited the hospital due to the Foley catheter being in place after the operation.
Shortly thereafter a nurse came into the room and introduced herself and told me she would be shaving my belly as a number of incisions would be made in my belly for the robotic arms to do their work. Four incisions were actually made for the robot and one was for a drainage tube that extended down into the prostate area. So, at this point, I have 5 incisions that are healing after the operation (seen below).
My Robotic Prostatectomy Incisions
She used one of those small electric razors to shave my belly and there was no pain at all involved in this exercise. Soon after that an anesthesiologist came into the room and hooked me up with an IV solution and the intravenous started surging through my body. I was glad about this because at this point I was pretty dehydrated due to the lack of water since midnight the night before and the effects of the Magnesium Citrate that cleaned me out entirely.
Shortly after that my surgeon, Dr. John Munoz, who is a superstar in the area of robotic prostatectomy, came in and introduced himself to my wife as I had already met him about a month previously in an introductory meeting with him at his office. He pretty much gave us the lowdown of what would happen over the next few hours and after the operation.
I told him that my wife would be heading home since we had been away from home for a few days and he promised her that one of his nurses would give her a call during and after the procedure giving her updates. They kept their promise…
I didn't see any reason for my wife to wait around for me for many hours since I would be leaving the hospital the following day to go home anyway, assuming all went well. It worked out perfectly that my wife could go home since my in-laws are pretty much dependent on their children to help them out as they live nearby and need their help on a regular basis. My wife could also sleep in her own bed and wake up and pick me up at the hospital the next morning.
Soon afterwards my wife gave me a kiss and I was whisked away into the operating room. I hadn't realized that by now there were meds already entering my body to put me asleep so I don't remember a lot about what happened after that. One thing I do remember is looking to my left as they were moving me and saw my doctor putting on his mask getting ready for surgery. I waved to him but I don't think he noticed me as he was busy getting ready for about a 3 hour surgery.
In the Operating Room there were about 4 nurses in there getting ready for the surgery. I spoke to them briefly and then I noticed the robot directly in front of me and I asked one of the nurses “Is that the robot?“. She responded, “It sure is”. And that was the last thing I remember and I was off into LA LA Land…
Here are some images from a great article located here.
When I woke up I was in my hospital room. Supposedly I was in the post-operating room for a while but don't remember that. I only remember being in the hospital room that I ended up staying in for that day into the next morning.
I knew that before the operation, while I was asleep, they inserted a Foley catheter into my penis and I would have it inserted for about a week after the operation. I was really glad I wasn't awake when it was inserted so that's a plus! When I actually woke up and looked down I checked out the catheter since I was really curious about this as I never had to experience having one ever before in my past.
There wasn't much to it and it didn't hurt at all. There appeared to be a little bit of swelling in my penis area due to inserting the catheter and the actual operation but that was to be expected.
The rest of the day I wasn't able to eat anything solid as my meals consisted of coffee (which I did not drink as my doctor said I should refrain from caffeine), and hot water with a chicken bouillon powder packet which I also didn't consume. There were 2 different types of juice and a popsicle of some type which I did have. I drank a ton of ice water during the rest of the day as I was fairly parched after the operation.
I was also fairly nauseous (nothing major) as well which is why I just stuck with anything that I thought would stay down and they did. After a few hours the nausea abated and I was feeling pretty good. The most pain that I was feeling was from the incisions for the robot. I looked at them and I was told that they use sutures (which will disintegrate in time) in addition to some form of glue to close them.
So, the next time I write will be about my recovery in the days and weeks following my Robotic Prostatectomy surgery. I hope these articles help anyone going through this surgery.
Feel free to leave any questions or comments in the comment section below or contact me via my Contact Me page. I'd love to hear from anyone who has any questions or concerns. I know it's a big deal and I've been where you are so please feel free to lean on me for any questions you may have.
Don't miss the other parts in the series seen below:
Part 2: Awaiting Prostate Cancer Surgery
Here is a great resource and forum for anyone who wants any question answered about Prostate Cancer.