Home Health Care

Readers, please notice the dates on all entries. Part I of My Bladder Cancer Showdown took place in 2018 and 2019. Part II, titled Long-term Recovery, took place through most of 2019 into early 2020. These new entries in my blog include monthly summaries of my experience. Last week’s blog ended with my discharge from the hospital.

February, 2019: I was still very weak when we got home. I spent most of my time in bed the first two weeks. The home health care team was helpful, but the brunt of my care fell on Carol.
The nurse came twice a week to check on me and take care of my supra-pubic port and catheter. The catheter drained into a large plastic bag at the side of my bed. She showed us how to drain the bag and measure my output every few hours.
The physical therapist also came twice a week. He taught me how best to get out of bed and use my walker. He also began teaching me simple chair-based exercises and a few step-away exercises, always staying close to help in case I lost my balance.
My balance was a real problem for the first few weeks. Carol removed anything such as throw rugs that might increase my risk of falling. Even so, I had many falls, suffering bruises from them, but no major injuries. Fortunately, I have good strong bones!
Guided by home health, we had work done in the bathroom to make it safer and easier for me to use. A handyman installed several permanent grab-bars. He also installed a new shower head with a flexible shower arm that I could use while sitting in the shower chair.
The occupational therapist taught me how to manage my port, catheter, and drainage bag while taking my shower. By the end of February I was ready to graduate from bedside sponge baths to using my new shower equipment, even though I was slow and a bit unsteady.
March, 2019: Unfortunately, my urinary symptoms flared up in March. My home health nurse took a urine specimen to the lab for culture and Dr. G put me on an antibiotic for one week. It seemed effective, but after it was gone, my symptoms flared up again.
Dr. G’s office worked me in to see him. My supra-pubic port area was all inflamed. After taking a culture and cleaning the inflamed area, the nurse changed the catheter and I was started on another antibiotic.
My appointment with Dr. C, the urology specialist surgeon, was moved up from mid-April to March 28. When we saw him, Dr. C said it was time to correct my urethral stricture and remove the supra-pubic port. I agreed, so he scheduled me for surgery in early April.
After all the complications I had experienced, I hoped that this surgery would speed up my recovery and resolve my problems.
[Blog to be continued next week.]