a man enjoys playing pickleball

Staying Active During Recovery

In May 2018, I was diagnosed with T2C prostate cancer with a Gleason score of 7 (3+4) and opted for da Vinci robotic surgery to remove my prostate. To start my recovery I spent a week with a Suprapubic Catheter, six incisions sealed by glue and the knowledge that two of the main muscles down below were gone. I prayed the remaining sphincter muscle will work correctly once the catheter is removed.

Leaving surgery optimistic

The good news is that the nurses had me on my feet the evening after my surgery and the next morning. My recovery was underway. I was discharged with the catheter bag strapped to my leg, and a list of don’ts and dos for the next eight weeks. I headed home optimistic.

The recovery begins

I quickly learned that sitting for long periods of time (30-45 minutes) increased my need to pee. The answer for the first week was to stay on my feet, walk around the house. Once the catheter was removed, I then started walking around the block. Each week I increased the distance, aware of my bladder adjusting to a new normal.

As the eight week recovery period ended, the next challenge was jump-starting my golf and Pickleball game. Lifting heavier items around the house caused some anxious moments. I started with the vacuum cleaner, emptying the trash, and pushing/pulling the trash carts to the street.

Getting back to pickleball, bicycling, and golf

I started Pickleball slow. One hour the first day, added thirty minutes the second, and could hardly move the third day as my joints hurt. I limited play to an hour per day for a week, drank lots of water which thankfully didn’t exit my bladder before its time. No runs, no leaks, no errors on the court. Finally, three months later, I was able to abandon the light pad as I had control over my bladder. I got used to driving my golf cart to the courts a half mile away. It dawned on me that I should walk to the courts. Of course, the walk home was a long one after a hard few hours on the court.

Then it hit me. I have a bicycle which is gathering dust in the garage. I started riding and it helped my leg muscles. Also, the ride home was a great cool down. This incremental improvement sped my recovery. I would achieve 6,000-10,000 steps per day and ride for a mile which cleared my brain for writing my book. Exercise clears the brain for thought leadership and led to becoming an author writing articles and publishing a book.

My golf game required patience as I started with my pitching wedge and practiced putting for a couple of weeks. At twelve weeks, I played my first round of golf. The hour drive to meet a friend at the course was worrisome, but I had no incontinence issues.

Meeting the challenges head-on

My surgeon mandated dietary changes were. My wife and I increased the amount of plant-based foods, high in protein: quinoa, hummus, vegetables (instead of crackers) for dipping, and salads daily.

The key to my successful recovery was to meet the challenges head-on, but cautiously at first. I learned from other survivors that setting goals was essential. This is not the time to throw a pity party. Who would want to show up to that?

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