Preparing for TURBT Surgery – What You Need

Handy things to have on hand…

Having been through two of these TURBTs, I have compiled a list of what is helpful to have available and why.

1) The LARGE (2 liters plus) catheter bag
If you take hydration and flushing to heart, you will produce a liter of urine (the limit of the leg bag) every 30-40 minutes. Eventually a stray blood clot will cause the valve at the end of the bag to leak on you, on your sheets, into your couch or mattress, etc. – usually in the dark when you are asleep. Even if you only have the catheter for only a day or two, DON’T LEAVE THE HOSPITAL WITHOUT ONE OF THESE LARGER BAGS, or a prescription for one – a ridiculous requirement in the USA.

2) Loose, baggy, unlined gym shorts and long warmup pants
These can be found on Amazon or K-Mart, Wal-Mart and some sporting goods places. Probably won’t find them at Nordstrom, Macy’s or Neiman Marcus. They are cheap and therefore disposable, and most importantly they are loose, soft, and thick. These are what you wear instead of underwear as long as you have a catheter in, and they can also be your outerwear at home. Thick and absorbent, they will serve you better than boxer shorts should any leakage or drainage occur. I wore these at home along with a loose shirt and a lap blanket, and everything worked nicely – even receiving visitors. For going out in public (like leaving the hospital or fetching the mail/newspaper) these shorts can be covered with loose, baggy, warmup pants that are easy to put on and take off, and will cover your catheter leg bag. Fleece for cooler outside temperatures, light cotton for summer.

3) Water in small (16-20 oz) bottles
Put these everywhere – in each bathroom, on your nightstand, and near your pill-taking station. These will help you hydrate, ease the dry-mouth, and enable you to take pills. Use either pure water or add some (organic if possible) lemon juice, lime juice, or orange juice for flavor.  Avoid anything with sugar in it or artificial sweeteners – sweeten with stevia (natural leaf extract) if needed.  If you need to take some drugs such as Lortabs that require food, you should also put some food like crackers, cookies, or peanut butter or almond butter and a spoon, or a bowl of walnuts, or almonds at your pill-taking station. (Because sugar and starch cause glucose spikes in the bloodstream and glucose is cancer’s favorite food, I have revised the instructions to avoid things like crackers or cookies and added alternatives in bold)

4) Old towels
Put these on the floor around the toilet to catch any unplanned leakage.

5) Incontinence pads
These are large, thin, flat, disposable diapers and can be hard to find outside medical places, but we found a cheap package of 18 at our local Kroger. Use these under your sheets to protect your mattress, should you ever try to sleep in the bed with a leg bag. Not necessary if you followed my advice in #1 above!

6) Big pile of gauze pads and liquid, antibacterial hand soap
Keeping the visible part of the catheter clean 24/7, as well as the parts of you that touch or come near it, is a vital step in reducing discomfort – especially for men! Best method is a gauze pad, a drop or two of liquid hand soap, and water. Much less messy than the iodine solution the doctor used. Some scrubbing may be required for hardened stuff. Be persistent.

7) Box of XL rubber gloves
Required for handling the urine disposal and cleanup if you had chemotherapy after your TURBT. The hospital gave us a box. If they don’t, you’ll need to get some.

8) High fiber foods
Food or gas passing through the intestine will eventually put pressure on the back of your bladder, and it will hurt. AVOID DAIRY and any gas-causing foods (like beans). Oatmeal, whole grain toast, fruit preserves (with no sugar or pear juice added), steamed veggies, eggs, and soups will be best for the first 2-3 days. (Because sugar and starch cause glucose spikes in the bloodstream and glucose is cancer’s favorite food, I have revised the instructions to avoid things like regular preserves, crackers or pot pies)

9) Stool softening pills
Will be needed as an adjunct to all that fiber.

10) Milk of Magnesia
If you eat A LOT OF FIBER for two days before surgery, you shouldn’t need it. Otherwise, it’s the gentlest way to re-start the excretory system. Try at the end of day 2 if things don’t feel like they are moving. If they are – you will feel and hear it and the MOM is unnecessary!

11) Music (MP3 player, IPod, etc.) and reading material
Good for the waiting periods in the hospital, and at home, too – because daytime TV really sucks! Thankfully now there is Netflix, Amazon Prime, and other stuff to substitute for the soap operas and judge shows on regular TV and cable.