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Recap

It's coming up on two months since my surgery. In some ways the time has flown by. In others it feels like I'm still in the hospital, except without the morphine which kind of sucks.

So much of the detail is already fading away. There are a few things I've learned I want to share for anyone who might be going through this before they slip away completely.

When you start the laxative routine the day before surgery, plan on staying close to your toilet for the next 8 hours or more. I'm sure it's different for different folks but it took maybe two hours for it to start working and I was expelling waste from 3pm until midnight and had two more trips to the bathroom Wednesday morning. There were probably snacks from the 70's I was getting rid of.

Drink a lot of liquids. The laxatives are dehydrating you like crazy, as do the antibiotics. I suspect that going into surgery hydrated helps everything afterward. Also, they don't give you coffee in the hospital. So if you're a big coffee drinker, you might start tapering ahead of the big day to ward off any caffeine withdrawal symptoms.

Follow the directions you've been given. You don't own this process. If you agree to treatment, you agree to have someone else drive the bus. You think you know best. You don't know best. You're not the first down this road. The doctors and nurses have treated dozens, hundreds before you. My surgeon had performed this procedure over 600 times before he worked on me. There was nothing I could do to improve my outcome except follow his instructions to the letter.

That said, before you agree to a treatment, understand fully what all the treatment options are and their respective merits and risks. Also take some time to seek out others who have been through this in your area. You'll find a wide range of treatment decisions and a wide range of satisfaction in the process. I didn't get a second opinion but was encouraged to do so by my primary urologist. What I did do was talk it up with friends. My wife did the same thing. We had friends call saying they were at cocktail parties and mentioned I was going through with surgery. People volunteered the name of my surgeon as the best in the area. My wife had a customer who had the procedure done by my doctor and spoke just as highly. An anesthesiologist who was a friend of a friend looked in on me following my surgery and talked to the doctor.

People who have been through this can be an excellent resource for setting some benchmarks for discomfort. They'll tell you when it hurt or went wrong for them. I was warned about the biopsy and nausea following anesthesia. We learned that some doctors in Salem didn't anesthetize before doing a biopsy. That's huge. I learned that my anesthesiologist would be giving me an anti-nauseant while I was out. Listening to other's experiences can help you determine if they brought it on themselves (infection or hernia following surgery) or if it was in process (the biopsy or digital exam). I can tell you from my experience, the digital exam was the most painful part of this experience. Everything else fell within the pain spectrum of needle wounds, tape pulling off body hair, and the general dull pain of recovering from surgery.

Take the pain meds. You'll heal faster if you don't hurt. If you follow the instructions on the bottle, addiction shouldn't be a problem. If you find you're buying more from sleazy websites in Mexico, then you know you've gone Rush Limbaugh and it's time to seek help.

Be grateful to your friends and family and include them in the process. It's tempting to not tell people because it's such a downer. I held of telling many of my coworkers, mostly because I needed them to continue to treat me normally as everyone shifted to care mode. In hindsight, I kind of regret that.

Find a sense of humor and keep it with you. I know that's hard when you're in pain. If you can't laugh at yourself as you go through it, the various moments of embarrassment and humiliation are going to really do a number on your self esteem. It's way better to leave your dignity at the door and pick it up on the way out.

I go back to the doctor's on the 28th for a follow-up exam. I'll let you know how that goes.

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