We are Josal and have been members for a little over a year, ever since my husband was diagnosed. Although we haven't posted in quite some time, we are regular readers and after reading posts from chas036 and loupdemer regarding incontinence issues, and being the Thanksgiving holiday, I am compelled to share the continuing saga of our experience with PC, and our thankfulness at how things have progressed a year later.
My husband too, had the robotic surgery with Dr. Jean Joseph in Rochester, NY, in October 2006. His incontinence following cath removal was quite severe - he was using 8-10 daily of the thickest pads you can buy for the first 3 months. The doctor had forewarned us that his incontinence might be greater and take longer to get under control because he is a robust man, and gravity works against you. Even though his PC was caught very early and his prognosis was excellent, Thanksgiving and Xmas last year were quite dismal due to his being depressed because of the incontinence.
He was off work for 6 weeks post surgery and was OK while at home - it was safe here and the bathroom was only a few steps away. He did do his kegels and went for short walks around the neighborhood just to keep moving, but was not a fitness buff by any means. He went back to work Thanksgiving week last year (he is a heavy machine mechanic in a factory) and his first day back, found he could not do his job because the pee was just pouring out. He ended up being put on light duty work for several weeks.
My brother said it best about kegels - you have these muscles that have been dormant all these years, and now they are called front and center to do a job they have never had to do. It does take time to strengthen and tone these muscles. However, after his first 3 month checkup In January 2007, he started making steady progress. First, the number of heavy pads being used decreased, then each package bought were the smaller and smaller pads. When we went back to Dr. Joseph for 6 month checkup in April, he was just using thin shields by then, mainly for confidence purposes. Dr. Joseph took a folded up paper towel and had my husband stand up and cough hard...no pee. Right after that, he stopped wearing the shields and has been fully continent. He may leak a drop or two if he waits too long to empty his bladder and is in a contorted position trying to perform machine repair. But by and large, he knows that the key to avoiding that is to empty every 2-1/2 - 3 hours. He also sleeps thru the night and wakes up dry.
He is able to perform all his job duties, as well as maintain our home, yard, and vehicles, and stays fully dry. After reading some of the recent posts the past few days, I said to him, "you know, you were these guys this time last year". Even though we are 3 hours from Rochester, he chooses to continue to go there because Dr. Joseph's staff is wonderfully supportive. Mary (the physician assistant) keeps telling him he's normal in his recovery (both continence and sexual). Although my husband is normally a very patient man, when it comes to this type of recovery and the fact that he is a man, no, he was not patient. But he has learned patience. We continue on our journey...this PC and its recovery has tested our marriage. But we are strong together. Sometimes I wish I could write a book about our saga, both the physical and emotional aspects. I hope this post gives at least one person some encouragement.