Prostate Cancer – Brachytherapy – part 10

It is Sunday, five days after my brachytherapy procedure. I am now going to focus on what the patient should expect rather than on the doctors and medical establishment. The short version is that my body received a major intrusion and it’s not all sweetness and light afterward. But it is bearable. However, doctors continue to screw up. See Part 11 for more of that.

The first day or two were actually pretty easy. My perineum was tender, bruised, and swollen, but I could still sit comfortably with care. It had had sixteen large puncture wounds, so that’s not surprising. I had taken the generic Flomax on days 1 and 2 so I could manage to urinate reasonably well, although you should expect to have a small stream. The prostate is swollen. The penis also hurts, right at the tip. I don’t know if this is from the trauma of the catheter or perhaps even another instrument used in the urethra during the procedure. It still hurts now, five days later, although much less. I sat around in my recliner a lot and didn’t do much. I was able to sit on my office chair at the computer, too, but didn’t have a lot of energy. I think I only had to get up once each night.

Day three, Friday, things got worse. The penile pain was greater after having lessened over the preceding two days. I had felt some odd lightheadedness a couple of times in the preceding days which I suspected was due to the Flomax, so I decided to see if I could go without it. I did not have the lightheadedness, but my stream became much smaller, leading to more frequent urination and long bouts in the bathroom. That night I had to get up twice, and 1:00 AM and 4:00 AM and I was not able to get back to sleep after the second time. So when I finally dragged myself out of bed Saturday around 5:30 I was wiped out and I really wanted to be able to pee better, so I immediately took a Flomax. After another 10 minutes in the bathroom I got up to get dressed and have breakfast. Immediately I felt a wave of nausea and dizziness. I won’t go into detail, but the next miserable half hour was spent in the bathroom. I managed to keep the Flomax down, but it was nip and tuck. It was my fault for disregarding the instructions for the Flomax. You are supposed to take it on a full stomach – 30 – 120 minutes after a full meal. It’s powerful stuff and known side effects include nausea and dizziness. It’s important to take it with food so that it enters the bloodstream slowly. I never fully recovered yesterday. Thank heaven for college football. I could veg out in my recliner and watch something, even though I’m not much of a fan. I managed to eat and kept it down, but there was no way I could drive a car, for example. I was able to pee a lot better, though. The Flomax does work in that way.

Today I’m better. I ate a big breakfast and waited an hour before taking the Flomax. My urination is nearly painless and near normal. I took a short walk today. There is some discomfort in the perineal area from walking. I’m not as tender as I was, but I still have to sit carefully. I have yet to drive my car since the procedure. It’s boring sitting around so much and not being able to exercise, either at the gym or running. I am not feeling well enough to do anything creative like working on my latest novel. I left off writing that a week ago. I pulled out a big jigsaw puzzle so I would have something to keep my mind off my body. I am in recovery mode, there is no doubt.

Edit: It is now 17 days after the procedure. The radiation is less than a third of what it was at the beginning, but the cumulative effects on my innards have taken their toll. My ability to urinate has begun to approach normalcy finally, but only as of yesterday. It is still somewhat painful, but in a different way than before; if feels like excessive pressure inside – in the prostate area – until I’m finished. I still use Flomax. More troubling have been my bowel habits. If I don’t want to visit the bathroom every hour I have to take Imodium. There was one night the first week, around day five, that I slept through the night. Since that time I have had to get up to pee two or three times every night. Last night there was a stretch of almost five hours of continuous sleep. That’s the longest since that one night I slept through. I have been able to go out for walks and to the gym over the last week. I’ve taken it easy and stayed near a bathroom, but it is possible to exercise moderately without much discomfort. In fact, it has invigorated me and let me feel almost normal. I’ve had no trouble doing ordinary household chores like washing dishes, mowing the lawn (with an electric push mower), and taking the garbage cans out to the curb, but I have avoided any heavy lifting or jarring activity. I’ve been able to concentrate more and I actually worked on my novel over the last two days. About a week after the surgery my private parts turned a spectacular purple, which later turned to black. I also had a similar bruise on my arm where the IV was. Those places are now faded and should soon be back to normal. My cat has not tried to sit on my lap, despite the cold weather. My wife has gotten that privilege – the cat on her lap, I mean, not my wife on mine.

Edit: 27 days after the brachytherapy – I went running for the first time since the surgery. I had several problems, but the prostate was not among them, nor was the Achilles. The weather was really cold this morning, which is not surprising since it’s mid-December. I’m way out of shape. Not only have I been quite sedentary for the last month, I was pretty sedentary for the two months before that due to my Achilles tear. I was cold and sucking wind after only a slow one-mile jog. Then I realized I had to get to a bathroom. I barely made it back to the parking lot rest room in time. My frequent BMs continue to be a problem of sorts although other than frequency, they are normal. I am not taking any other drugs than the Flomax. I slept through the night last night for the first time since the first week after the brachy. My urination is close to normal most of the time, at least it was as of yesterday. Now that the weather is colder, the cat is sitting on my lap. The radiation is about 13% of the original strength now. With the Cesium-131 seeds I am supposed to be safe around pregnant women and everyone else after one month. With other isotopes, it’s longer due to their longer half-life.

Continued on Part 11.

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