Surviving a Turp

UPDATE: I am now 70 years old. Last night I slept 8 hours straight. I cannot tell you how sleep had changed my life. It truly is healing for the body and mind. It makes it easier to maintain a good weight as well. Below is my story.

A TURP is the acronym for a Trans-Urethral Resection of the Prostate.  The prostate is a small, walnut sized organ that plays a key role in the reproductive process.  The problem is that the prostate, like the human ear and human nose keeps growing with age.   Half of all American men over age fifty and 80% of those over age 80, experience enlarged prostate.

Here’s what it means.  An enlarged prostate constricts the urethra, the narrow passageway that allows urine to be emptied from the bladder.  It means more “potty breaks” which in itself is only an inconvenience if there is a lavatory nearby.  But it can eventually impair health.  That’s why we see all of those Joe Theisman commercials on television.  For one thing it can mess with your sleep which in turn can affect other things.  And secondly, while the prostate grows very slowly and there is no need to rush into a procedure, the urethra can eventually become totally blocked and one would be forced to have an operation to open it up anyway.

I travel a lot internationally and can report that waking up in the middle of the night in Singapore, when it is only the afternoon back home, can make it harder to get back to sleep and sleep deprivation translates into a lower immune system and increased odds of a virus, flu and infection.

My struggle with BPH (benign prostatic hyperplasia) or enlarged prostate, has been ongoing since my late thirties.  The question was, do I gamble that I will die before I need such an operation?  Or should I take care of it now rather than risk such an operation in my 80’s when it might be necessary anyway and could result in a heart attack on the operating table?

I lost a brother at 46 of a brain aneurysm and another at age 47 of a heart attack.  I am now 67 and am being treated for heart disease.  Taking the stairs can be a chore.  I was agnostic about nutritional solutions for BPH until desperation forced me to try saw palmetto.  It worked.  Nocturnal bathroom breaks were reduced from five to two but only when i could guarantee a regular routine of meals and sleep and a double the recommended dosage of saw palmetto.

Having just lost 20 pounds on an Isagenix diet and deciding that my heart disease and my BPH would only become more chronic with time, I decided to do the TURP now.  Yes, it is uncomfortable, yes there was some risk but there was also some risk in delay.  The advantage could be my first uninterrupted 8 hour sleep in 40 years.  That had to be worth something for my health.

Here is my list for surviving a TURP.

1.) Get ready.  I Googled everything and learned what I could.  There are even videos of the operation itself.  I made repeated visits to my cardiologist to make sure I was  as fit as possible.  This involved walking the dog 3 miles a day and a diet of Isagenix, vegan, non dairy shakes .  I visited Merdod Ghaffouri,  my cardiologist, and had a stress test EKG.  My last bloodwork showed my cholesterol had bottomed out at 120.  It was the lowest ever measured in my life and a far cry from the 324 registered at age 35.

2.) Get the best doctor for the procedure.  I chose Dr. Ali Sajadi.  He came with great recommendations from other doctors.  Ghaffouri said, “I know him, he will not recommend a procedure unless it is absolutely necessary.”  Those words are golden among doctors.  Sajadi was young but experienced.  You can’t beat that combination.   You want someone who knows the latest and if you are going to get a TURP you want someone who has done so many he can do it in his sleep.  This is key.   The surgery itself involves carving out a larger channel for the urethra, making it easier for the bladder to empty.  But the process of cutting away at prostate tissue and enlarging that channel involves inflammation, possible infection, bleeding and other complications. Don’t be shy, don’t be afraid to back out.  Your choice of doctor is crucial to what happens next.

3.) I had full anesthetic and was knocked out last Thursday at noon.   By 1 PM the operation was done.

4.) The purge.  Groggy and drugged, I was wheeled into a waiting hospital room where for me, the real work began.  With a tube inserted all the way up into my bladder, a saline solution was pumped through my system for 24 hours.  The nurse had to empty a bucket of my blood and urine every 90 minutes.  This was incredibly uncomfortable and I watched the clock on the wall as it slowly crawled its way into the evening and throughout the night.  There was no turning back now.  My father had experienced his first heart attack at age 48 after a long weekend without sleep.  So I tried to get get some rest but it was way too uncomfortable for sleep, not painful, but uncomfortable.  I managed only 30 minutes of shut eye.

5.) By morning the color of the urine in my bucket had turned from a deep red wine to a pink lemonade and the doctor pronounced himself satisfied.  The tube was withdrawn and I was sent home.  This was my goal from the beginning, to get that tube out before leaving the hospital.  I stated as much to Sajadi at the beginning.  I had read about patients lugging that tube and a bladder bag home for days.  My wife’s nurse friends had tales to tell.  But Sajadi understood what I wanted and while it could not be guaranteed he knew how it could likely be achieved and sought to make it work.

At home there was no pain, no bladder spasms, no irritation.  Not even Tylenol was needed.  The next morning my wife and I walked the dog for a mile and a half.  I had to force myself to take it easy.  It will be one week tomorrow and my sleep is already deep and restful.  My urinary stream is back.  From what I read it will take my body several weeks to adjust to this procedure and for me to fully heal and get back to normal.  No, I take that back.  I will not be getting back to normal, I will be turning back the clock 30 years to something long missed, something that was normal at age 35 but will now be empowering.

Bottom line?  Much time and pain can be saved by having a good plan.  Make sure you need it.  Make sure you get a good doctor.  Make sure you take time to rest.

Published by Doug Wead

Doug Wead is a New York Times bestselling author whose latest book, Game of Thorns, is about the Trump-Clinton 2016 election. He served as an adviser to two American presidents and was a special assistant to the president in the George H.W. Bush White House.

10 thoughts on “Surviving a Turp

  1. Wow, Doug Wead.
    I am glad it went well for you and wish you improved health for years to come. That should probably include not allowing silly people to post on your blogsite, but I would leave that up to you.

    Am only surprised i am the first person to post here!
    Warmest regards..

  2. Doug, I am glad that this procedure was successful. Now your getting the proper rest needed which will affect your body in powerful way, especially improving your heart health. You are on your way to living longer, because your living stronger. Brian

  3. I’am happy for you.
    Congratulations to the doctors!
    Investing in general health and immune system previous to any operation makes the doctors work very easy and untroubled.
    God Bless

  4. My procedure was much like yours except I have experienced only minimal pain after awakening and some burning when urinating. Otherwise I feel fine now at day 2 and I’m up and about. The irrigation did not hurt nor really did the catheter removal. At this point I have very little blood when urinating and the flow is mostly clear. BPH symptoms have already improved and I anticipate more progress after healing.

  5. Hi, Doug I was interested in reading your blog about “surviving a turp” but disappointed it stopped at that. I was expecting/hoping that there would be more of your experience of post surgery, such as did you suffer any incontinence issues even for a short time? Did you suffer any ED issues? What is your experience of intercourse post surgery? Maybe at 67 this wasn’t part of your lifestyle.
    Thank you for what you have written anyway.

    1. Hahaha. Good news all around. I am now 69 and still very happy with what happened. No side effects. Everything has improved. Everything. (Yes, that too.) I can only compare it to cataract surgery. After a day or so of healing the results are instantaneous. Hardly a day goes by that I don’t smile about what happened. Now, I know that this would not apply to everybody in every situation. But it was the perfect solution for me.

  6. Hi, I am curious if I might be having a problem after my TURP, a Bi-polar TURP of just the Median lobe (with the hopes of preserving normal ejaculation- yes, at 70 I still enjoy sex!). Immediately after the surgery, I peed like a racehorse- whoosh, amazing! After the catheter was removed the next day and I got home, it was still great, but that night I suddenly couldn’t pee at all, called the doc, fearful I had to return to the hospital and be re-catheterized. Fortunately I did manage to pee a little and went back to sleep. Since then, my stream has been good, certainly better than before the surgery, but not nearly as dramatic. I asked my doctor what to expect, and he said “it should jump right back. Well, it remains decent, but hasn;t jumped tight back. My question is- is this normal and what I got is what I got now and that’s it, or can I expect, with time/healing that my flow will get back to how great it was initially? Is there possibly a concern (blood clot/who knows) that I should get immediate attention for? My doc of course is now away for XMAS. I’d appreciate any advice/comments/commiseration. Thank you!

  7. Hi anybody knows what happened with Nancy Dornan,I have a gift for her to give,and I can’t found her anywhere!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: