how soon can one return to work?

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Regular Member

Date Joined Oct 2010
Total Posts : 175
   Posted 11/10/2010 3:59 PM (GMT -6)   
I know that each person has a unique situation and story, but if I get 10 responses, then I can weigh them all and hopefully figure this out.

How soon after a robotic prostatectomy can a guy return to a corporate type job? How soon can one drive a stick shift?

I'd love to hear "a week or so", but I suspect that is entirely too optimistic.

52 yr old, newly diagnosed. PSA 3.5, Gleason 6 with 3 of 4 top nodes (0%;1%;10%;1%) cancerous. Bottom 2 floors are clean.
Da Vinci surgery scheduled for 12/30/10
Hoping that the robot does not become "self-aware" (we all are old enough to get this reference)

Regular Member

Date Joined May 2010
Total Posts : 129
   Posted 11/10/2010 4:03 PM (GMT -6)   
Had "open", but I was 2 weeks. Depends on what you do for a living, I guess...
50 Yrs. old. DX Feb, 2010 w/6.6 PSA.
Biopsy 04-24-10, Gleason 3+3=6
4 of 5 cores left side inv. 4 of 6 rt side
RRP 06-07-10....
16 days post-op, catheter out.
Gleason upgraded to 3+4
No involvement of lymph nodes & seminal vesicle.
Perineural invasion present :(
Totally continent @ 8 weeks post-op. (!!!)
1st post-op PSA @ 12 weeks - Less than 0.05

Elite Member

Date Joined Oct 2008
Total Posts : 25393
   Posted 11/10/2010 4:07 PM (GMT -6)   
had open also, and wasn't even allowed to drive for 30 days, let alone work
Age: 58, 56 dx, PSA: 7/07 5.8, 10/08 16.3
3rd Biopsy: 9/08 7 of 7 Positive, 40-90%, Gleason 4+3
open RP: 11/08, on catheters for 101 days
Path Rpt: Gleason 3+4, pT2c, 42g, 20% cancer, 1 pos marg
Incont & ED: None
Post Surgery PSA: 2/09 .05,5/09 .1, 6/09 .11. 8/09 .16
Post SRT PSA: 1/10 .12, 4/8 .04, 8/6 .06 11/10 Not taking it
Latest: 6 Corr Surgeries to Bladder Neck, SP Catheter since 10/1/9, SRT 39 Sess/72 gy ended 11/09, 21 Catheters, Ileal Conduit Surgery 9/23/10

Forum Moderator

Date Joined Jan 2010
Total Posts : 7082
   Posted 11/10/2010 4:24 PM (GMT -6)   
I did DaVinci. Officially returned to work the next week, but it was only a few hours a day, remote via computer. I was not able to go into the office for quite a while, as I was completely incontinent, and could not sit for any length of time at a desk.
The doctor had told me to plan to return no sooner than 5-7 weeks, but that turned out to be grossly optimistic.
For driving, it was just at a month (a few days less) before I was cleared, and there is no way I could carry a briefcase and laptop, much less deal with a stick shift. I drove a stick for years, and even with a dislocated shoulder, so it is a "real" comparison. 
I think that the problem would not so much be the arm movement of shifting, but using the clutch.

Post Edited (142) : 11/10/2010 2:27:15 PM (GMT-7)

Veteran Member

Date Joined Sep 2010
Total Posts : 2680
   Posted 11/10/2010 4:31 PM (GMT -6)   
You can't drive until the catheter is removed, that's for sure. After that, it's just a matter of how you feel. The stick shift shouldn't pose a problem.

I've known guys who've gone back to work to desk jobs after a couple of weeks, but that also depends on how the continence issue is working out for you. I could have returned to my desk job certainly at the 3 week mark.

If you need someone to exercise the GTO while you're not driving, please let me know. :)
Age 65
Dx in June 2010.
PSA gradually rising for 3 years to 6.2
Biopsy confirmed cancer in 6 of 12 cores, all on left side
Gleason 7 (3 + 4)
Bone scan, CT scan, rib x-rays all negative.
DaVinci surgery late August at Advocate Condell, Libertyville IL
Negative margins; negative seminal vesicles
Smooth recovery; 18 holes of golf at 4 weeks.
Continence OK after 7 weeks. ED continues

Veteran Member

Date Joined Sep 2009
Total Posts : 3172
   Posted 11/10/2010 4:35 PM (GMT -6)   
GTOdave said...

How soon after a robotic prostatectomy can a guy return to a corporate type job? How soon can one drive a stick shift?

Hi Dave, 
My experience after robotic-assisted surgery was that I had 4-week maximum allowed LOA (the duration is provided by the doctor directly to the company HR on the LOA paperwork).  I had mid-week surgery, so I ended up taking 3.5 weeks.  The doctor informed me in advance that the second half of that period is simply for what he called "social" be sure that the patients have time to become comfortable with wearing pad in public settings, since most patients need a number of months to become fully "dry." 
I could have come back to work sooner, and was working from home on my computer by the time the catheter came out (day 7).  In fact, on the morning I returned to the office from my LOA, I gave a big presentation on a project I wrapped up while at home.  I wore a pad for several months.
Regarding your question on driving a stick shift, after the catheter is out, you should be fine as long as you are off pain meds (which is likely if you have robotic operation).

Tim G
Veteran Member

Date Joined Jul 2006
Total Posts : 2361
   Posted 11/10/2010 4:39 PM (GMT -6)   
I had open surgery. The catheter was in 10 days (no driving, but plenty of walking) and I changed from Depends to light underwear liners for slight stress incontinence after 30 days. I returned to work (desk job) after a month.

Regular Member

Date Joined Jun 2010
Total Posts : 87
   Posted 11/10/2010 4:43 PM (GMT -6)   
2 weeks from the day of Davinci I went back to my office job.  Nobody ever told me not to drive other than 24hrs after surgery.  I could have went back a few days earlier but the weekend was there so I took it.  Good luck to you
Age 53
Pre OP PSA: 1/2008=5.9, 2/2010=6.0 (free=9%)
Biopsy, 4/10/2010 This was my 2nd Biopsy. The Uro put me out and took 36 samples. 3 samples positive 1%, 2%, 2% no evidence of perineural invasion. T1c

Dx April 2010
Gleason: 3+3=6
CT Scan: Neg
DaVinci: 8/11/10, Dr David Bryan, SSM DePaul-St Louis
Post Op Path:
Gleason 3+3=6
Tumor involves left lobe only
Tumor constitutes less than 5% of gland volume
No vascular or neural invasion detected
No capsular invasion detected
Distal urethral margin of resection free of tumor
Proximinal urethral margin of resection free of tumor
Radial margin of resection free of tumor
Seminal vesicles uninvolved by carcinoma
TM stage T2a (unilateral less than 1/2 of one side), NX, MX
ALL Margins uninvolved
Extra Prosatic extension: Absent
PSA: 9/10 <.1,

Forum Moderator

Date Joined Jan 2010
Total Posts : 7082
   Posted 11/10/2010 4:50 PM (GMT -6)   
As to when can you start driving - it depends. The doc will likely "advise" you not to drive for a certain time, and that will go in your file.
Considerations as pointed out by my surgeon:
- Can you handle an emergency swerve / brakes to the floor stop?
- You may be considered DUI if there is any narcotic pain killer in your system (my doc said there is enough residual in your blood for 12 hours to make you fail a blood test for my state). I was taking the meds as needed for a couple of weeks after surgery.
- If you had an accident, regardless of fault, and the "advice" in your file is found, you have potential liability issues.
I did not drive again until I was told that I could do so, and it was a challenge the first few trips out.

Regular Member

Date Joined Aug 2010
Total Posts : 121
   Posted 11/10/2010 4:54 PM (GMT -6)   
I was "cleared" to drive after the catheter was removed and I was off pain meds. about 8 days after surgery. Wouldn't want to drive cross country, but didn't have any issues.

I started working (tele-commute) from home, 10 days post surgery. I plan to go into the office, for at least partial days, next week, which would be 2 weeks post surgery. My doctor told me to plan on 6 weeks, take it easy and listen to my body.

A friend of mine returned to his building maintenance job 2-weeks post da Vinci with no adverse effects.

Ed C. (Old67)
Veteran Member

Date Joined Jan 2009
Total Posts : 2461
   Posted 11/10/2010 4:58 PM (GMT -6)   
I had Davinci surgery, I was walking 3 miles after 1 wek. I'm retired but I could have gone back to my office job in 2 weeks.
Age: 67 at Dx on 12/30/08 PSA 3.8
2 cores out of 12 were positive Gleason (4+4)
Davinci surgery 2/9/09 Gleason 4+4 EPE,
Margins clear, nerve bundles removed
Prostate weighed 57 grams 10-20% involved
all PSA tests since (2, 5, 8, 11, 15, 18 months) undetectable
Latest PSA test (21 months) .005

Regular Member

Date Joined Jan 2010
Total Posts : 55
   Posted 11/10/2010 5:06 PM (GMT -6)   
I teach at a College of Medicine, and had robotic surgery during the December break. I was back teaching (with pads) three weeks after the surgery. I was working from home remotely the day I returned home from the hospital (I was never in much pain, and didn't need the pain pills). The catheter was removed after 14 days (I failed the cystogram), and I was driving my stick shift the same day of catheter removal without a problem. I was tired for the first or so back to work, but that quickly resolved.
Diagnosed 9/4/09, age 59
PSA 3.5, up from 1.8 year before
Two biopsies showed 8/20 positive cores, Gleason 3+3, up to 40% involvement, T2a
RRP on 12/15/09, home 12/16
Biopsy all good news, still Gleason 6, margins clear all around
Catheter out on 12/29/10
Continent in six weeks, ED still present
PSAs undetectable (six weeks, six months)

Worried Guy
Veteran Member

Date Joined Jul 2009
Total Posts : 3741
   Posted 11/10/2010 5:54 PM (GMT -6)   
For the first 10 days I was walking with my catherter and pee bucket. For at least a week after that the floods were so bad I wished for the catheter again. It took me that long to get my fluid intake and what little control I had left to be contained with diapers and pee pads.
For the next few weeks my most important job was to regulate my pee. Great.
At 3 months I was able to do a full on 2 hour presentation without having one person even guess there was an issue.

Jeff (Still leaking 120 ml per day at 15 months).

Veteran Member

Date Joined May 2009
Total Posts : 2692
   Posted 11/10/2010 5:54 PM (GMT -6)   
I drove within a few days, catheter and all, no problem. I own a company, which offially makes me an office worker, however, I climb up on overhead cranes, down in manholes, etc. I was on my first crane in about 10 days. Just had to be careful with the catheter bag on my leg.

I think reasonableness is the key word. No heavy lifting, no jumping jacks, etc. Slow and easy, no sudden moves, no real awkward postions, allowing the incisions to heal correctly, and make sure the bladder connection heals well.

My doctor was the kind that basically said, your body will tell you. Many times we have post surgery instructions that have a lot liability protection built in to them.

I think 2 to 3 weeks is very reasonable for typical "office work". Be sure you understand the meaning of incontinence, and what it may mean for you. Pads, depends, clamps, however you may choose to cope with it. I know I really didn't comprehend how it would affect me for 8 months.
Age 58, PSA 4.47 Biopsy - 2/12 cores , Gleason 4 + 5 = 9
Da Vinci, Cleveland Clinic  4/14/09   Nerves spared, but carved up a little.
0/23 lymph nodes involved  pT3a NO MX
Catheter and 2 stints in ureters for 2 weeks .
Neg Margins, bladder neck negative
Living the Good Life, cancer free  6 week PSA  <.03
3 month PSA <.01 (different lab)
5 month PSA <.03 (undetectable)
6 Month PSA <.01
1 pad a day, no progress on ED.  Trimix injection
No pads, 1/1/10,  9 month PSA < .01
1 year psa (364 days) .01
15 month PSA <.01

howard l
Regular Member

Date Joined Aug 2010
Total Posts : 152
   Posted 11/10/2010 7:05 PM (GMT -6)   
I had robotic on a Thursday. The catherter was out the following Thursday. I was driving that Friday and back to work on Tuesday. SO iwas out about 10 worki9ng days.
DX age 58
PSA 5.4
Gleason 5+4 = 9
City of Hope Clinical Trial (punch protocol). 6 sessions textore every 3 weeks + lupron
PSA .1
RP Oct 2009. Seminal Invasion positive margins. Lymphnods clear.
1 month PSA post op undetectable.
4 month PSA undetectable.
7 month PSA .5
Bone scan and CT scan negative. Prosticint scan mild activity in prostate bed.
EBRT May 2010. 39 sessions 70gy. On number 37.

Veteran Member

Date Joined Sep 2009
Total Posts : 664
   Posted 11/10/2010 7:33 PM (GMT -6)   
My brother and I had robotic surgery by the same physician. Brother has a very strenuous job lots of heavy lifting. He took the full 4 or 5 weeks, (I think 5) I have an office job and like others I could have gone back after day 10 (cath removal). However I took off a few extra days off for deer hunting.


English Alf
Veteran Member

Date Joined Oct 2009
Total Posts : 2218
   Posted 11/11/2010 3:20 AM (GMT -6)   
Depends on how much physical effort your job involves. (I would not have been able to do my old job working for British Railways which was very physical. Now I work at home and basically I resumed a fairly normal pattern from a day or two after I came out of hospital)

How you manage with incontinence/pads etc is a real unknown till you experience it first hand. One person will find sitting difficult another will find standing a third will find walking is the problem etc. (Someone mentioned how they had never imagined that one day they would be delivering a lecture while calmly peeing in their pants/pads at the same time.)

Another factor is how your body is after surgery - any complications or extended stay in hospital (eg infection) could mean you take (much) longer to recover.

Driving needs a medical okay to be on the safe side for insurance aspect etc.
Additional driving related issues are:
- check what meds you are on: you must not drive when taking assorted meds
- wearing a seat belt may be uncomfortable across abdomen;
- normal driving may be okay but emergency brake application for instance or excessive clutch use in slow moving traffic may be problem (Someone reported a few months back that they went for a test drive down their street and had a nasty discovery when they could not put enough pressure on the brakes to stop their car and had to be helped by a neighbor who sprang in to action!)
- Twisting round to look over your shoulder to reverse/park may also not be easy.
- Getting in and out of a car can be harder than you'd think too, you may also have to do it in a different way to stop it causing leaks as moving your legs wide apart to get out can can make things open up (sounds stupid but you may have to move with your knees together like a lady in a short skirt who doesn't want to flash)
- if you get a flat tyre/tire it if very likely that you will not be able to change it yourself till quite a while after surgery.

The availability of WCs may also be a factor, both at work and on the journey to and from work. Even if you are using pads you will still have to be able to go somewhere to change them and dispose of them. If you have an leak you may also need somewhere where you can change your clothes too.

The above makes it sound like life after surgery is nothing but a bunch of problems, but it isn't really and it's surprising how quickly you find yourself adapting to the new restrictions.

To finish I'll add a comment that may make people in the US gasp, but here in Holland I was told that regarding sick-pay no employer will/can object to you not being back at work after an RP until three months after surgery. (ie docs will still sign a note for at least 3 months)


Good morning Dave - What are you doing? - Would you like to play chess?
Hey did I type that or was it .......!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Born Jun ‘60
Apr 09 PSA 8.6
DRE neg
Biop 2 of 12 pos
Gleason 3+3
29 Jul 09 DaVinci AVL-NKI Amsterdam
6 Aug 09 Cath out
PostOp Gleason 3+4 Bladder neck & Left SVI -T3b
No perin’l No vasc invasion Clear margins
Dry at night
21 Sep 09 No pads daytime
17 Nov 09 PSA 0.1
17 Mar 10 PSA 0.4 sent to RT
13 Apr 10 CT
28 Apr 10 start RT 66Gy
11 Jun 10 end RT
BMs weird
14 Sep 10 PSA <0.1
Erections OK

Steve n Dallas
Veteran Member

Date Joined Mar 2008
Total Posts : 4849
   Posted 11/11/2010 5:05 AM (GMT -6)   
I had robotic on a Wednesday. Took off the following week but could have gone to work sooner. Was driving on about day 5 after surgery.
Age 55 - 5'11" 215lbs
Overall Heath Condition - Good
PSA - July 2007 & Jan 2008 -> 1.3
Biopsy - 03/04/08 -> Gleason 6
06/25/08 - Da Vinci robotic laparoscopy
05/14/09 - 4th Quarter PSA -> less then .01
11/20/09 - 18 Month PSA -> less then .01
05/18/10 - 24 Month PSA -> less then .01
Surgeon - Keith A. Waguespack, M.D.
Growing old is mandatory; growing up is optional..

Regular Member

Date Joined Oct 2010
Total Posts : 175
   Posted 11/11/2010 7:37 AM (GMT -6)   
Good morning Dave - What are you doing? - Would you like to play chess?
Hey did I type that or was it .......!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Someone finally got it!

I was thinking more of "ahhnold", and having the OR nurse list me as "John Connor" to see if the robot decides to "terminate" me.

Thank you everybody, your answers have been very helpful.

Regular Member

Date Joined Apr 2010
Total Posts : 189
   Posted 11/11/2010 12:20 PM (GMT -6)   
If you are in the US file FMLA with work to cover yourself. I'm retired but could have gone back to work last week 3 weeks after surgery.
Age 68 weight 185 height 6'
Samples taken 4/19/2010 sent to Bostwick
3 out of 12 samples cancer
1) gleason score 3+3 involving 65%
2) gleason score 3+3 involving 65%
3) gleason score 3+3 involving 10%
PSA 3.5 Mar 19
PSA 2.5 Apr 4
Bone scan clean CT scan clean
Da Vinci 10/12/2010 DR Paul Kahn all nerves spared
Home 10/19/20
Cath out 10/22/2010
Prostate 56 gm. Gleason grade 3+4 = 7

Regular Member

Date Joined Jun 2009
Total Posts : 292
   Posted 11/11/2010 2:17 PM (GMT -6)   
I was free to drive once the catheter was removed. I was back at work full time at four weeks but went in for a hour or three on some days once I could drive.
PSA 8.7 Biopsy 1/7/09
4 of 6 cores +, one at 90%
Gleason 3+4=7 Neg scan 1/15/09
1 shot Lupron 1/27/09 Tax Season
RP 4/29/09
Neg nodes, + seminal vesicle, 1 + margin
Gleason 3+4=7 with tertiary 5 T3b
Catheter 2 weeks no nighttime leakage Pad free week 5
PSA 6/6/09 <0.1; 9/10/09 <0.1; 3/11/10 <0.1; 9/27/10=0.1

Regular Member

Date Joined Jun 2008
Total Posts : 407
   Posted 11/12/2010 10:59 AM (GMT -6)   
I had my prostate removed via the da Vinci procedure.  I have a desk job, but am required to move about the office throughout the day.  I returned to work 18-19 days post-op.  It was difficult to sit for a while and some of the post-op meds made me dizzy until my body acclimated and/or they were adjusted.  I probably should have taken a month off because I had the sick time built-up.  Driving is not recommended when wearing the catheter.  I think mine was in for 2-weeks.  After the catheter was out I was leaking like a sieve and driving would have been uncomfortable and maybe sometimes dangerous.  When riding in a car with friends, who were kind enough to ferry me around (I take public transportaton to work), we had to stop frequently so I could change pads - sometimes when standing on a street corner (not what was interesting!).  This is a major procedure and the body has to adjust significantly to the trauma you'll/it'll go through and I think we tend to rush things and not give our body and ourselves - psychologically - the time to adjust and recover.  Best wishes for a successful outcome.
Age: 61 (58 at diagnosis - June, 2008)
April '08 PSA 4.8 ("free PSA" 7.9), up from 3.5 year prior
June '08 had biopsy, 2 days later told results positive but in less than 1% of sample (Gleason's 3+3=6)
Developed sepsis 2 days post-biopsy, seriously ill in hospital for 3 days
Dr. recommended robotic removal using da Vinci; Surgery 9/10/08
Northwestern Memorial Hospital, Chicago, IL; Dr. Robert Nadler, Urologist/Surgeon
Post-Op Gleason's: 3+3, Tertiary 4; Margins: Free ; Bladder & Urethral: Free
Seminal vesicles: Not involved; Lymphatic/Vascular Invasion: Not involved
Tumor: T2c; location: Bilateral; Volume: 20%; Catheter: Removed 12-days after surgery
Incontinent: Yes (1 to 2 light (woman's style) pad per day)
ED: Combination of Cialis and MUSE (alprostadil) once weekly: started 9-27-08
Returned to work 9-29-08 (18-19 days post-op)
PSA test result, post-op, 10/08: 0.0; 12/08: 0.0; 4/09: 0.0; 9/09: 0.0; 3/10: 0.0; 9/10: 0.0
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