By Pramod Daya

Adult incontinence is an unpleasant and often undiscussable side effect of prostate cancer treatment. It’s a frequent consequence of prostate cancer treatment and affects about 40% of all men going through radical prostatectomy surgery for up to a year and sometimes longer. It can feel like the flood you see in the photo. Here’s my story.

Gushing urine

I had been looking forward to removing the catheter that was inserted during my prostate cancer surgery described in part one of my story. The catheter was not fun – changing the bag for a night bag, emptying the bag into the toilet, the chafing on my penis from the rubber tube coming out of it – I couldn’t wait to get it out.

Six days later, I visited the surgeon’s room for the big day of catheter removal. I had a “man pad” ready to deal with the urine dribble that I thought would ensue. Getting home and lying down was great, without the catheter… and then I stood up to go to the bathroom, and had a huge gush of urine flooding into the pad. I barely made it to the bathroom before it spilled everywhere. That was distressing.

Nappies, pads and leaking into my pants

The first few days after the catheter removal were shocking – I was going through about 4 or 5 pads a day. Knowing what kind of pads to buy was also very confusing, my first inclination was to buy adult nappies, but luckily had been advised not to do so by my physiotherapist, as they are overkill.

The pads had different numbers of droplets as an indicator of their absorbent capability. There appeared to be no universal standard for this, some of them showing four drops out of eight, others showing 4 drops out of 6. I bought a couple of different sizes, as I didn’t know what was required.

The prospect of leaking into my pants and walking around with a stain was distressing. Needless to say, that did happen a few times. I was also really concerned that I would leak out of my pads onto my mattress, so bought some absorbent half sheets to stick on top of my mattress. That fear proved to be unfounded. The pads did quite a good job of absorbing the wee.

Infections and alarm

One unfortunate side effect of also having my penis constantly in a damp environment, was that I got fungal infections in that area. I found that baby bum creams were very helpful as they eliminated the itching, as well as dealing with the fungus. Over the counter anti fungal creams rubbed into my penis also helped a lot.

I was also alarmed by what would cause me to wee uncontrollably into a pad. Coughing was a nightmare – jets of pee would emerge with every cough. Any kind of physical exertion would cause me to spurt.

Adult incontinence – a social nightmare

I didn’t leave home very much for the first few weeks, I was uncomfortable with having to constantly change pads and worried that I would leak when in some public place. It was probably several weeks before I felt brave enough to venture out for a short drive, for a couple of hours. because the pads would get sodden, sometimes within hours. The prospect of changing pads in public bathrooms in the middle of the COVID pandemic was not welcome.

I remember friends coming to visit after a week. Sitting and chatting with them in my lounge was horrid – while sitting there, I could feel myself spurting out. When I stood up to go to the loo, another spurt would come out for good measure. I felt self conscious – of course only I knew what was going on, but being in a room full of people and feeling pee squirting into a pad is not a good feeling. Even though no-one else can see it – it’s just embarrassing to have what have been private bodily functions, like urinating, happening while you’re in a social setting.

Finding a way forward

I like measuring things, and this turned out to provide some way for me to track my progress over the last year. Look out for Part 3 of my story with lots of data.