Recovery from Surgery

Comic of woman sitting with her dog watching TV in dirty clothes with a catheter and bag

Illustrations by Lucius Wisniewski for this comic done in partnership with his wife, Sarah Watts.

Surprises during my bladder cancer journey

There were many things that surprised me about my journey with bladder cancer. Maybe one of the most surprising things about the entire journey was my recovery from the surgery that removed my tumors, called a TURBT.

The surgery is usually an outpatient one, where the doctor inserts the resectoscope through the urethra and moves it upward to the bladder, much like a cystoscopy. In this way, the surgeon removes the tumor (or tumors, in my case) without making an incision. After, an indwelling catheter is placed in the bladder to help it heal.

I assumed recovery would be a breeze

Because the surgery was outpatient, because they could remove my tumors without opening me up, I assumed the recovery from the surgery would be a breeze – but I was wrong. Between painful bladder spasms, fatigue, and relentless anxiety, it took a week or two before I felt somewhat like myself again. It was a solid three weeks before doctors could remove my catheter, so in addition to the fatigue and bladder spasms, I was also figuring out how to live with a catheter full of pee attached to my leg. There's not much to it – you open a valve, the pee pours out, and you close it up after it drains – but for some reason, I couldn't stop dripping urine all over my clothes.

I now know what to expect

I spent the better part of three weeks lying on the couch, binge-watching Grey's Anatomy, napping, and trying to figure out how to drain my catheter bag without spraying myself with pee. It wasn't a difficult recovery, but it wasn't as easy as I'd assumed. If I ever need to have a TURBT next time, I now know what to expect.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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