Man walking but his torso showing his bladder is being left behind

Changes Post-Operation with a Neobladder

You came through surgery okay. Your recovery has been smooth, no major complications. You’re back to your daily routine, working, teaching, taking care of the kids or enjoying your retirement. But it feels different. That’s only natural. Your bladder has been removed, your prostate is history, and a portion of your colon has been requisitioned to fill a different role. Don’t forget that your new bladder still thinks it’s a colon.

Drinking water to reduce mucus

The colon produces mucus to break down your waste. You’ll see an abundance of the stuff (it looks like phlegm) when you urinate. There are a number of ways to reduce the amount you produce. The best way is to drink water, lots of it. I probably go through 6-7 liters a day. To make it more pleasant, I use a soda stream to carbonate the H2O, but that’s my preference. I researched any side effects of carbonated water and there aren’t any, but you can check with your doctor. You can also use a supplement, NAC, which I use daily. The one I take is called PharmaNAC, made in Switzerland. I take it every morning. It dissolves like Alka-Seltzer and has a blackberry taste. It’s actually great. It reduces mucous drastically. There are other less expensive supplements available as well; I just find Pharmanac works for me.

Leaking at night

You’ll have to sleep with a diaper as once you’re out, you’re totally incontinent; your bladder will drain on its own. Buy a mattress cover to protect your bed. You’ll learn how to control your bladder because you won’t have the same sensation as before. The feeling will come back, but it takes a while, and you’ll be prone to leakage because you don’t have the same natural ability to “hold it.”

Self-catheterization to empty the neobladder

Self-catheterization sounds scary, but it isn’t. It’s painless, I do it every night before bed. Your doctor will tell you what size catheter you’ll need, and a nurse will give you a lesson. It’s easy. You may see blood in your urine, but as long as it isn’t clotting or a steady stream, it’s probably normal.

Frozen shoulder

It’s not unusual to develop “frozen shoulder;” it happens with people who have had bladder cancer. I hope you don’t get it, it’s painful as hell. You can’t lift your arms over your shoulders, and any sudden movement is agonizing. Exercise can help and the best remedy is to stay active.

Blood clots

I’ve had two blood clots since being diagnosed, and it’s not unusual for cancer patients to experience them. The first was in my right calf. Sore as hell, it was diagnosed early, and a prescription on blood thinners took care of it. The second was much worse. It was in my left calf. I thought it was a muscle pull from cycling and ignored it. While cycling, my heart rate went crazy, and I thought I was having a heart attack. Turned out, the deep vein thrombosis spread to both my lungs, and they were completely clogged. I spent the night in the hospital and was put on injections for 90 days. A needle to my stomach twice a day, followed by oral medication! If you feel any kind of pain below the knees, see your doctor. If you feel the pain in your thighs, it could be very serious; see your doctor or get to the hospital immediately.

Making sure to eat fiber

My diet hasn’t changed at all. I love junk food like I always did before. I just make sure I have more fiber in my diet, salads, broccoli and stuff like that. I still eat red meat occasionally; I love a good steak, but lean more towards fish and chicken.

Stay strong, stay positive; we’ve been given a second chance, don’t waste it!

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