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Constipation after surgery

ac
Posts: 84
Joined: Aug 2008

Hi all,

I was recently diagnosed rectal sygmoidal cancer in August 2008, underwent neo-adjuvant radiation and chemotherapy and have was just discharged from hospital after a lower abdominal resection.

The incisional pain is now subsiding. But I am experiencing constipation everyday with very little bowel movement.

I am already relying on Colace and Metamucil. But it doesn't seem to be helping much. I've read about many instances of people having loose stools and diarrhea after colorectal surgery. But hardly the contrary. I was advised to go on a low residue diet initially so I'm not sure if it is advisable to up my fibre intake.

If you have any similar experience, what did you do to alleviate the symptoms and how long did it take for your body to go back to normal?

Thanks again for all your prayers and support.

Andrew

Buzzard's picture
Buzzard
Posts: 3073
Joined: Aug 2008

I use a benefiber tablet (actually 3 at a time) and it doesn't make anything rash but helps to get things normal again in a couple of days...They are a light orange color tablet about the size of the large tums but have an orange taste and work smoothly. I have slight constipation with chemo where others have dirherra. BENEFIBER does the trick for me.

chynabear's picture
chynabear
Posts: 483
Joined: Jul 2005

I had constipation after resection. Are you still on pain meds? Those tend to cause constipation as well.

When I started chemo, I would go from one extreme to the other. I would start out constipated... have chemo, and within a few days have very loose stool.

During chemo, I would just use a light stool softener that the nurses gave me and then would switch to immodium when it turned loose.

After I finished chemo, I would tend to be mostly constipated and the thing that helped me most was to keep my fruit and veggie intake high. I would drink a shake in the morning that was made of water, banana, apple, steel cut oats, flax seed, almonds, frozen berries, and melon. I would also juice veggies. This kept me normal. And lots of water!

Now, I am 4+ years out from surgery and I am "almost" back to normal. It took a long time, but now I can basically eat how I want and stay "normal". I still tend to be constipated slightly, but diet helps. I also notice that when I am stressed out or eat anything rich, I will have loose stool.

I'm not sure things ever go back to "normal" after cancer, surgery, and chemo... but it does get better.

KathiM's picture
KathiM
Posts: 7874
Joined: Aug 2005

And dried fruits....ALWAYS the winner for me...

Make sure to keep up your hydration, as well...I always got 'slow down' when I wasn't drinking enough...

Hugs, Kathi

BTW, welcome to the semi-colons...the best real-life experience you can find!!!

taraHK
Posts: 1961
Joined: Aug 2003

Welcome!

Sorry to hear about the constipation after surgery. I think that is pretty common -- I certainly remember it well. I remember having to be on a low fiber diet right after surgery -- it was quite a shock to my system as I am used to eating a lot of fruit and vegetables, and high-fiber foods. I think you might want to try reintroducing some of that.....probably ok now (can you check with your doctor/nurses?). Try: Drink lots of water. Moving around (walking, gentle stretching) can help -- if you feel up to that yet (ouch ouch ouch -- I know!). Prunes.

Good luck with your healing --
All the best
Tara

maglets's picture
maglets
Posts: 2397
Joined: Jun 2006

Andrew I have had constipation after all three abdominal surgeries. You have to be very careful about your interior healing so sometimes a tiny bit of a gently laxative like Milk of Magnesia will work. A stool softener helps and I use glycerine suppositories just to get things moving smoothly. Before surgery I used to have a cup of hot coffee in the morning so now I just take a cup of hot water and hope it sends the same....time to move....signal to the bowel:) Lots and lots of fluid for sure but that is a bore sometimes, isn't it? I also went to the health food store this time and got probiotic pills that contains the probiotics in yougurt....especially if you have had antibiotics in your surgery IV you will want all those good bugs back in your bowel.....I think they really helped. It took me about 2 weeks to get straightened round.

All very best hugs for healing.....
Mags

chynabear's picture
chynabear
Posts: 483
Joined: Jul 2005

I'm curious as to some people have said they couldn't have a high fiber diet after surgery... why is that? Were you told by the doctor to stay away from high fibers?

I was never told after surgery to stay away from fiber or lower my fiber.. in fact, my gastro told me the opposite... to make sure I was getting enough and to take a supplement on top of the natural fiber I got from food.

Just curious.

Joy1216's picture
Joy1216
Posts: 276
Joined: Mar 2006

I was put on a high fiber diet as soon as I was released from the hospital after my resection. They told me to eat 25 - 30 grams of fiber a day. It was a struggle to eat that much fiber when I was recuperating from surgery and wasn't hungry. Two years later I have no problem with constipation as long as I stay on a high fiber diet.
Joy

CherylHutch's picture
CherylHutch
Posts: 1399
Joined: Apr 2007

I was one of the ones who was told to nix the fiber after my colon resection surgery. I was given a list of foods that I could have and was shocked. For the previous two years, I had been on a low carb/high protein diet and all the foods listed that were allowed were high carb... and high white carbs at that (IE: white bread, not whole grain breads; white pasta, white rice, etc). Very little in the way of fruits and veggies.

When I asked, "WHY? I thought fiber would be the perfect thing for making sure the intestine and colon were working!" and it was explained to me, that that was exactly why they didn't want me eating fiber. They did NOT want the colon/intestine to be working hard while healing from the surgery. By eating these high carb, bland, low fiber foods, the intestine/colon does not have to work hard at all... they will churn them out very quickly without putting any stress on the intestine.

This was not to be a permanent diet, but to have it for about 6 weeks after surgery.

Hugggggs,

Cheryl

tootsie1's picture
tootsie1
Posts: 5001
Joined: Feb 2008

I didn't have to have chemo, but I'm still dealing with constipation a year after my colon resection. I already have the tendency before that, because of IBS. They've tried me on lots of different things. I'm still a work in progress! Good luck!

Gail

ac
Posts: 84
Joined: Aug 2008

I believe I was told to stay on a low residue diet so as not to irritate the region where anastomosis was. I saw my surgeon yesterday and got the staples removed. He told me that I can now resume my normal diet. So I'm gonna up my fibre intake and see how it goes.

I also just weaned myself off the pain meds a couple of days ago and I can feel that things are improving. Although I'm still constipating, at least the feeling of incomplete bowel movement seems to be going away. My wife thinks that I was anal retentive all along so not much difference there. But jokes aside, she and my family have been my pillar of strength during this ordeal.

I just got my staples removed and I can feel little improvements daily. I wish none of us could have been afflicted with this terrible condition. But I'm really grateful for your help. Thank you so much for your replies and good luck with your personal battles. I will continue to check in regularly.

Andrew

funnyguy
Posts: 90
Joined: Jan 2007

Crazy thing. After multiple surgeries, I found that hospital and presurgery anti biotics do a job on healthy bacteria --- basically killing them off and making things harder on your digestive tract. Eating yogurt while on a low fiber diet helped to get these restored and me back to more normal operating conditions.....:)

Buzzard's picture
Buzzard
Posts: 3073
Joined: Aug 2008

Well folks I have found the absolute cure for constipation......and it works quick so be ready.....A 2 liter bottle of Nestea with lemon flavor....it tastes great with the kind of tart that tastes good to us nauseated chemo dooers.....but ya better be on your game when it hits home cause things are gonna start happening ....and fast, if ya feel bloated just buy ya a 2 liter of it and I promise you won't be long..........

tootsie1's picture
tootsie1
Posts: 5001
Joined: Feb 2008

How much do you drink at one time? I hate lemon in tea, but it would be worth it, if it works for me.

Gail

Buzzard's picture
Buzzard
Posts: 3073
Joined: Aug 2008

I drank 2 16 oz glasses pretty quick.....

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