Preparing for a Cystectomy: The Practical Piece
Last updated: February 2023
If you are reading this article and you are going to be having a cystectomy surgery or have the surgery already scheduled, I hope the article will help you to prepare for the surgery in a practical way.
In Part 1, we looked at the emotional side of preparing for a radical cystectomy.
If you are currently being treated with alternative methods for Bladder Cancer, please note that many people are successfully treated without the need for this surgery.
Once you have emotionally prepared yourself the best you can for the upcoming surgery, there are some practical things you can do to prepare for the surgery.
Preparing practically gives the mind something else to focus on. It helps in taking some steps which will assist you after surgery.
Here are some of my suggestions that I hope will help in various aspects of your life to prepare for surgery.
As soon as you know the surgery is going ahead, provide your employer with the dates of the operation and the expected recovery period. Your doctor can give you an estimation of the expected period required away from work to recover.
Updating family and friends
You will probably have a primary caregiver or supporter helping you with all aspects of your journey. It could be a partner, family member, or friend.
They may also advocate for you, ensuring your best interests are always at the forefront. They are also probably very emotionally involved and are busy keeping everything together.
I would suggest picking a second close person as the primary point-person for relaying updates to those you want to be informed about when you cannot do it yourself.
A group chat is a good idea for keeping everyone looped in throughout your process.
Preparing for your hospital stay
Take an eye mask with you. Hospital rooms are often very brightly lit late at night or early in the morning, allowing you to block the light and sleep better.
Take a pen and a notebook; you can use this to record things that you might be told or to jot down questions that you want to ask the doctor the next time they come to see you.
Take an extra long phone charging cable; often, the plug is far from your bed.
Bring a small cushion or blanket from home. It provides comfort to have something familiar.
Take any of your regular medication with you and pack loose-fitting clothes to wear after surgery. Audiobooks are also a good option. You may not want to read or have the energy to hold a book or e-book reader right after surgery, but having an audiobook allows you to have something to listen to
Things that can help you recover once home
A grabber/pick-up tool. It is like the tool sometimes used by garbage collectors in the street - search for "pick-up tool." This allows you to pick up things without bending down. I recommend two. A spare one in case you drop the first one!
A pregnancy pillow - this is a full body length cushion in a "U" shape. It can be used in bed in various positions and helps provide support while resting and sleeping once home in the initial period after surgery.
A washable incontinence mat. This can be placed on top of your normal sheet, absorbing any liquid and saving you from changing your whole bed. This can also be useful later when you are staying away from home. Many people do not have leaks, but it is possible, especially in the initial period post-surgery, that this might happen until you get the hang of your new gear.
Preparing for a cystectomy
Remember, while everyone's journey is slightly different, shared experiences will help to make you feel less alone. We are here to support you during this time. Good luck with the surgery.
You have got this!
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