ITEMS FOR THOSE UNDERGOING
a discussion thread on one of the Mailing Lists, this was the suggested list of
items to assemble prior to surgery for prostate cancer. The items marked with
an asterisk* were considered the most useful by one man. Printable
versions are available either as a Word.doc or in pdf
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") 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, which 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 the large drain bag.
A five-gallon plastic bucket is very useful at night as a receptacle for the large
night bag. 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.
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.
Polysporin and Erythromycin were used with no problem.
* 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.
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
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 bars!)
Use a plastic coat hanger stuck between the mattress and box spring to hang the
bag from or just place it in the bucket on the floor.
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
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
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.
- 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)
A raised seat to put over the toilet (as an alternative, or in addition to, grab
A grabber for picking things up if you drop them so you wouldn't have to bend
If you have the hardware, fill up a MP3 player with your favorite 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.
Drinking straws - you will want some for the first week.
Plastic cups - they're lighter than glass
Extra pillows - for sitting up in bed and as arm rests at night and for the couch.
Velcro Foley straps - the walking bag can slip down your leg and pull on the tube.
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.
-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.
To deal with the rash and itch consider getting tubes of Desitin and/or Butt Paste,
both containing zinc oxide.
Diet plan - coffee is bad for bladder, eat more fruit, less meat, no cheese &
bananas while on stool softeners. Diet and supplements are part of permanent recovery