Things I Wish I Knew Before Surgery: Preparing for a Cystectomy
After you and your medical team have determined that a radical cystectomy (RC) and ileal conduit (IC) is your best bladder cancer treatment option, preparation is invaluable. Having a surgery such as this can, without question, be stressful. Rest assured that many of us have been through the same procedures and are living a normal, active life. While there is definitely value in researching your cancer and treatments, too much information can add to your stress.
Start walking before surgery
Recovery from major surgery takes time. You will have good days and other days where your energy is non-existent. Pushing too hard for a fast recovery may do just the opposite and set you back. Being in good physical condition is beneficial. If you are not a regular walker, it is never too late to start walking so your legs and body are prepared for recovery. Walking is essential during recovery and will help your energy return so start before surgery.
Preparing for your bladder removal
"Try on" a wafer and bag. If a stoma or wound care nurse is available in your area or someone you know who wears a bag, ask for a bag/wafer or 2 and try them out. Actually seeing what this looks like and how it may fit on your body and underclothing will prepare you for later on. Also, it assists with determining where you would like your stoma.
While the surgeon has the final say, your input for placement is important.
Outies are easier
Speak with your stoma nurse and surgeon about an "outie" stoma versus an "innie", just like your belly button. Innies or stomas that are either flush with your stomach or below can be a problem as the urine tends to go under the wafer versus directly into the bag. My stoma is about 1 inch long when it is emptying and 1/2 inch when not.
Trust me - this is something worth having a discussion about.
Have your views towards bladder removal changed since you were diagnosed?