here's a list - it's not mine originally, but I've added a few items/comments.
The Useful Items List:
There are other useful things that you might consider having or knowing about in case you might want to do/have them. The following is courtesy of Joe Price, another Canadian PCa prostatectomy patient who lives in western Canada and is a fellow member in many of the Internet support groups I belong to (used with permission).
He states the following: (My comments are inserted in blue)
I compiled this shopping list of paraphernalia that would be good to have
on hand when you get back from surgery. I started the list in September
2001 before my own operation based on responses I got to a request for
suggestions. Thanks to all those who helped put this list together way back then.
Since then I have re-posted it periodically to make it available to the
newly diagnosed. Occasionally, additional items are suggested and I try to
remember to add them next time I post this message.
One thing I would like to make clear up front - the list is exhaustive
because I have included almost everything everyone has ever suggested. This
does NOT mean you should run out and buy everything on this list. Some of
these items are in the "luxury - nice to have" category and others are
specific remedies some individuals found they needed for complaints that may
have been specific to them.
Read through the list and at least think about what is here and what its
purpose is. Get creative in thinking how you might adapt something you
already have around the house to function in the place of some of these
Certain activities, not strictly hardware items, were recommended
frequently. I've included those activities as well.
I am not a doctor and this is NOT medical advice! (Likewise for me!)
- A pair of oversized basketball type warm-up pants with snaps or zipper up
the leg (to allow discreet access to the catheter and bag). Get a pair that
is large enough to accommodate the large (night) bags and smaller (walking)
bags - that will be provided by the hospital. A dark colour will be less
likely to show wetness from any accidental leakage compared with a light
colour. Fast drying material ("parachute material" or the new ‘wicking-type’) is recommended if possible. This is not essential.
- I have found convertible hiking pants (pants whose lower leg can be
zippered off to create a pair of shorts) to work wonderfully well while
wearing a catheter. This type of pant also has a side zipper on the lower
leg that makes leg bag access a breeze. You can open the upper zipper (the
one that runs around the leg) part way to switch bags and let out the hose
to drain the large bag.
- A five-gallon plastic bucket is very useful at night as a receptacle for
the large night bag. (If in bed you can also stick a hanger between the mattress and box spring with a section partially sticking out. The bag can be hung on this.) The bucket may become your constant companion around the house. Get a square one if you don't already have something else.
- "Invalid" cushion (looks like an inner tube)
- Antibiotic ointment/lubricant (Polysporin, for example) for where catheter
exits (some had this supplied by their hospital). Some recommend a
water-based lubricant such as KY Jelly but that tends to dry out quickly.
Get gauze 4X4 pads to apply ointment. There has been some debate about the best fluid to use. You want something slick, long lasting and certain not to damage the tube. It would be nice if it were also antibacterial. I used Polysporin and Erythromycin with no
problem. Polyfax ointment is a name to look for if you live outside North
America. (I had a very hard time with the catheter both in the hospital and at home. The pain at times was unbearable. Try the Polysporin.)
- Alcohol swabs to clean the catheter at the tip of the penis (single use
wipes designed for cleaning the skin before an injection).
- A pair of slippers or sandals or loafers.
- Over-the-counter stool softener - Get a haircut and trim your toenails before surgery
- Several people recommended buying, borrowing or otherwise acquiring the
use of a reclining chair. ( I found my reclining chair better than the bed. It was more comfortable for me and much easier to get up. I also was up a lot during the night. I used a plastic-lined sheet under a beach towel to protect the chair against any ‘accidents’.)
- Place a chair by the bed with the back facing the bed. Use the chair as a
bedrail to help you get up. Use the seat as a bedside table to hold some of
the things you want to keep handy. I would STRONGLY suggest you test this
out BEFORE you go to hospital to be certain it can take your weight as a
handrail before you rely on it post-surgery!
- A pillow to hug early on to ease pain in laughing etc.
- A pillow to put between your knees while sleeping on your side.
- Grab bars in the area of the commode (don't use towel racks for grab
- Nice baggy, soft sweat pants or warm-ups - oversize with drawstring if the
weather is warm inside the house or out of doors
- A soft bathrobe belt to make a shoulder strap to suspended the big bag if
you prefer it to the "walking" bag.
-. Silk/nylon/rayon boxer shorts for the period you have the catheter
- Some readers have recommended "boxer briefs" for the combination of
support and their ability to hold the catheter and prevent tugging
- A plastic sheet to go under the bed sheets and protect the mattress once
the catheter comes out. A large plastic garbage bag might work in a pinch.
- Have enough easy to prepare food on hand for 2-3 weeks
- Book(s) you've been intending to read
- Fresh batteries for your TV remote
- A cordless phone and up-to-date phone list
- Some big baggy mesh shorts (in summer)
- Suspenders may be helpful, in place of a belt
- Two dozen inexpensive white washcloths (in a big bundle)
- Some of the little plastic, stick-on hooks to put in the shower etc., for
a place to hang the bag or simply the pail, placed outside the tub.
- To help stave off possible urinary tract infection, either Ural (seems to
be an Australia/New Zealand over-the-counter drug) or a supply of cranberry
juice. They work in different ways to achieve the same thing.
- A watch or interval timer to remind you not to stay sitting too long. The
small kitchen timers would work for this and to prompt you to get up
periodically at night if you need to do so.
- An electronic thermometer (about $10) for keeping track of your
temperature for a couple weeks postoperatively.
- A walking stick may prove to be helpful.
- A safety bench (maybe a plastic lawn chair?) for the shower (sometimes
you're a little light-headed when you first come home and it's nice to have
something to sit on) (I used the chair when I first got home and did not have anyone to help me in the shower. The plastic chair works great. Also put a rubber bath mat in the tub – it helps to keep you from slipping. I would also recommend purchasing a soap-on-a-rope if you can find one. I started off without one and kept dropping the soap – couldn’t bend to get it without losing my balance. After I got one – no problem! An alternative might be pump soap IF it has a rack to go on so you don’t have to bend all the time. I also tried to shower as much as possible with my wife or son at home so that someone could do my back. For some reason I had a terrible time with a back-brush… balance was off.)
- A raised seat to put over the toilet (as an alternative, or in addition
to, grab bars)
- A grabber for picking things up if you drop them so you wouldn't have to
- If you have the hardware, fill up a MP3 player with your favourite tunes &
use headphones to help "drown-out" the hospital noise.
- A "toilet seat lifter". I would be inclined to bend a coat hanger into a
hook that I could work under the lip and lift, but there are probably
commercial step-on type mechanical devices akin to garbage can lid lifters
out there. Just use a stick or bend at the knees, keeping the back straight.
Heck, just leave the lid up for a few days.
- One person indicated his hospital made him wear a pair of anti-embolism
stockings the whole time he was there. He bought another pair when he went
home and suggests considering doing the same. (to prevent clots – this is what the stockings are for.)
- Drinking straws - you will want some for the first week.
- Plastic cups - they're lighter than glass (I used plastic travel coffee mugs with the snap-on lids for all liquid beverages– worked great. I never lost much liquid even when I dropped it or knocked it over.)
- Extra pillows - for sitting up in bed and as arm rests at night and for
- Velcro Foley straps - the walking bag can slip down your leg and pull on
the tube. (Velcro works very well!)
- A current phone list - one of contact people who must know, one of friends
to come visit you, walk, and meals, shop for you. Spread the burden.
- A few woman's (not a few women's- get them from one woman) menstrual
pads - don't be shy, the big ones, they're smaller, cheaper than
incontinence pads and can be added to the diaper and
changed more often. (Good idea – I used menstrual pads only when I moved on from the diaper type.)
-Travel bag - like a baby changing bag for when you go out or the keep
women's pads in your pocket.
- Viva paper towels - to help when wet - they're soft.
- Toilet wipes - the first few times they're nice, along with baby wipes for
everything. (The wipes are very useful, especially when your urine tends to get all over your scrotum when using the Depends (Guards) and later the same when you are only losing a few drops. For traveling, I took my pad change into the washroom in a plastic bag. I used the bag to dispose of the soiled pull-up.)
- To deal with the rash and itch consider getting tubes of Desitin and/or
Butt Paste, both containing zinc oxide. (I used baby powder or corn starch (better) to keep my genitals as dry as possible (but not on the catheter). I didn’t have much problem with rash. When I did I used a cream often used for baby diaper rash.)
- Diet plan - coffee is bad for bladder (yes but I love the stuff so I put up with it), eat more fruit, less meat, no cheese & bananas while on stool softeners. Diet and supplements are part of permanent recovery plan. (Diet is important – you don’t want to get constipated!)
- Look into a cancer society group such as "Man to Man" that meets monthly
and go to a meeting before surgery.
- Learn to roll sideways out of bed (rather than sit on the edge trying to
stand upright). Practice before going to the hospital. (Works but you DO need to practice the method.)
- Walking is the best way to get your body ready and also to recover later.
- Wait to see how bad your incontinence is BEFORE purchasing a lot of pads
etc. but do buy a package of men's guards to bring to the appointment when
the catheter is removed. Have a look around at what is available and
compare costs before hand. (I took two to the catheter appointment. The nurse put down an absorbent pad on the bed before removing the catheter but I still needed two pull-us before I actually got home. I also put a plastic garbage bag on the car seat in case of accident.)
- Kegel, pre-operation and post-catheter removal (not with catheter in)
- Remember, what you are going through is TEMPORARY; in a few weeks you
won't even remember the discomfort of some of this stuff!
Diagnosed: August 05 T1c 1 of 10 cores positive 5% vol no palpable on DRE Gleason 3+4 or 7
Surgury: RRP Dec 05
Pathology: Jan 06 PT3 20% PCa total volume bilateral 4 positive margins Gleason 3+4 seminal vesicles clear LN not checked extraprostatic extension positive right base and right central anterior no perineural invasion HG PIN present both nerve bundles saved
PSA: Mar 06 0.87 referred to radiation oncologist
PSA: May 06 1.1 June 06 Began 36 treatments EBRT 64 Gy ending July 06
HT: 2 weeks casodex 50 mg, then Lupron Depot 7.5 monthly for 18 to 24 months - monotherapy
PSA: Sept 06 <0.1 (lowest reading on assay) Testosterone (T) <0.4 (lowest on assay)
PSA: Mar 07 <0.1 T <0.4 PSA: July 07 <0.1 T <0.4 :) :)