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Thaks for the replies

MJay's picture
Posts: 132
Joined: Aug 2004

Thanks to all who replied to my previous message for rectal cancer survivors. Everyone's kind words and encouragement helped me to round the corner into acceptance. I have cancer. I need surgery. I don't want the surgery. It scares me. I don't want a colostomy. Actually... I don't want cancer either. So, it's off to surgery I go on the 14th.
Anyone with words of advice to make this go more smoothly... sure would love to hear them. MJ

Posts: 708
Joined: May 2004

Glad to hear you have reached the acceptance phase.

Here's my surgery advice:
Get comfortable pajamas that button down the front for easy on/off. Cheap ones you can throw away after surgery, very therapeutic.
Bring slippers and bathrobe for the hospital walks.
Bring essential bathroom items to hospital - shampoo, conditioner, makeup if you so care, etc. to make you feel more normal as your hospital stay progresses.
Get a removable shower head into your home shower. Makes bathing MUCH easier!!
Get cheap underwear one size too big.
Bring music and music player to hospital.
Buy a big wedge pillow for your home (can do 45 degrees with support). Sleeping flat after abd surgery is a problem.
Get neck pillows. Your neck may be sore after surgery because of the posture when intubated.
My hubbie brought all my get well cards to the hospital and put them on the wall. Made it soo hopeful. Bring pictures of family, etc.
Bring favorite pillow.
Have someone in the hospital with you at all times for first 36-48 hours. Just in case there are problems/questions. You will be drugged and will need help getting help.
Be ready to have drains after surgery. Just wouldn't want you to wake up not expecting them. They don't hurt. When they pull them out it feels VERY weird.
Make sure to get an epidural.... helps tremendously to get you up and at 'em quickly!!
Ask the anesthesiologist for anxiety meds the night before. I got them and was soooo grateful. Helped me sleep well.
Get ready for a slow recovery. The surgery does hurt, but it will pass. Try to stay as positive as possible. This is a procedure to get you one step closer toward cure!!!!!!!!!!

If I can remember anything further, I will let you know.

Take care. jana

MJay's picture
Posts: 132
Joined: Aug 2004

Thanks Jana.
One Question... did you get the epideral in lieu of being sedated? Or in addition to? If in addition to, can they do the epideral while you are sedated??? I had one when giving birth to my daughter and was desperate for relief... they hurt and I am horrible with pain. MJ

Posts: 708
Joined: May 2004

They gave me the epidural before they put me to sleep (you have to be sitting up) BUT they also gave me "happy" medicine and I don't remember a thing!!
My anesthesiologist told me I kept telling her I would remember, but I don't. Drugs these days are GREAT. It was all done in the OR, right before I went out.

Posts: 768
Joined: Aug 2004

Hi MJ. I got my epidural just as soon as I got in the operating room. Actually, they had me sit on the edge of the table and lean forward on the nurse, that's the last I knew of anything. You see, they must have shot some anethesia (sp) into my Iv right away. Off to la la land I went. I had the epidural for about 3 days. ( for pain managment ) I HIGHLY recommend it. I was up out of bed the next day and every day after that. Very little pain at all. And no groggy feeling that comes with Morphine. Go for the Epi !!!

I have to run and make supper, but I'll give you some pre and post surgical tips later tonight.

( I did a meditative study that I really think help my recovery.)


MJay's picture
Posts: 132
Joined: Aug 2004

Oh I hope that is how it goes for me. I will push for the epideral. Actually, these drs have been really cool about pain stuff. Offering it when I didn't even need it.

Three days of epi?? Holy Cow!! I can't even imagine that expense. When I had my daughter it ws $4,000 just for 8 hours. Thank goodness I have good insurance.

I look forward to hearing your tips. And more on that meditative study. MJay

jsabol's picture
Posts: 1156
Joined: Dec 2003

Hi MJ,
I can certainly sympathize with your pre-op anxiety. I found it hard to wait, and just wanted to get it over with. I did not require a colostomy, but I did want to jump in with my thoughts about pain control. I had my surgery last December, and am now done with chemo and back at work.
I also had an epidural put in before the general anesthesia; happy to say I didn't even feel it; I had already gotten some "relaxing" meds via IV. The epidural uaually means you need lighter general anesthesia. I was able to come out of the anesthesia pretty quickly, with no nausea and very little discomfort. They left mine in for 3 days, during which time I needed no other pain meds. I also requested no visitors during my hospital stay, and slept for long periods.
The suggestion about pillows is a good one. I missed the adjustable hospital bed, and would have been happy to sleep in a recliner, but I couldn't push to get ours to recline! I just surrounded myself with pillows in bed at home, particularly under my knees. I only needed pain meds for a few nights after I got home, then Tylenol did the trick.
Another suggestion....take up EVERYBODY on any offer of help....food, meals, errands, keeping you company. My friends took turns covering each day for the first week, and I swallowed all pride and let them help. It was great, and I think they actually felt better being able to do Something.
Be prepared to take it slowly, but you will feel better each day.
You're sure right about not wanting cancer or a colostomy, but if it means having a fighting chance, seems that the choice is nearly made. Good luck to you on the 14th; you're on my prayer list. Regards, Judy

Moesimo's picture
Posts: 1080
Joined: Aug 2003

I am also a rectal cancer survivor. I am catching up on last weeks post, as I was in the hospital with yet another bowel obstruction. I was 46 in 6/03 when I has surgery for stage 3 rectal cancer with temp. ileostomy which has been reversed. It has not been an easy year, but I survivored and you will too. I have been a nurse for over 25 years and nothing could have prepared me for the year that I had. Definitely take the epidural. It was wonderful. ask anesthesia about it on your preop visit. make sure that you also see the ostmy nurse. she will mark the site for your stoma. If I can help you with anything else, let me know. good luck.

Posts: 768
Joined: Aug 2004

Hey MJ. I'm back. My hospital has a holistic nurse (RN) that ran a course called " Prepare for Surgery, Heal Faster" A guide of Mind-Body Techniques.

Now, I study the martial arts and believe very much in the connection of mind and body. I figured,let me see what this was all about. The coures was just an hour and a half basically going over the material in a book titled the same as the course. ( author - Peggy Huddleston) There was also a cassette tape that had relaxation exercises on it.

It claims that using the techniques you will:
feel calmer before surgery
have less pain after surgery
use less pain meds
recover faster and
strengthen your immune system.

Now, that is a bunch of powerful statements. I have to say, other than my c-section with my 3rd child, I hadn't had major surgery. So I can't really compare it to anything. I did fantastic. No nausea, no problem urinating after they took the drain tube out ( yeah, you'll probably have that. But hey, who wants to get up and go pee after surgery anyway? HeHe ) I was really pretty alert. Everyone told me I looked great. I did stay the 8 days that I expected. Although, later, my surgeon said he expected me to be there for 10-12 days. Yeah, me!

Any Hoo, I took this cassette tape into surgery with me and it played over and over until the surgery was over. ( auto - reverse tape player). You are also supposed to fill out a "Healing Statement For Surgery". Which is basically 4 statements that are repeated to you by the anesthesiologist or nurse during the operation.

It states that following the operation you will feel comfortable and you will heal very well.

Your operation has gone very well.

Foloowing the operation, you will be hungry for ( you fill in your favorite food). You will be thirsty and you will urinate easily.

And the last statement is Following the operation ( then you fill in your surgeons recommendations for recovery)

I know this is a lot of info, but hopefully you get the general idea.

I thought it was really cool that I had the tape player going thru the whole operation ( or that's what they tell me)

Even if you can just play soothing music, it can block out any noise in the operating room and keep you from hearing things you may interpret incorrectly.

I can give you more info if you want to e-mail me.

Everyone suggestions are great. I had a picture of my family right at my bedside the entire time I was there.

Use that breathing tube thing ( with the ball that goes up when you breathe into it) often.

Cough, but only with a pillow on your belly. It is good for your lungs to cough.

Get up as early and as often as you can. I know it sounds scary, but it is the best thing you can do for yourself. ( when you are ready )

Have lots to read, music to listen to and games or puzzles. It gets pretty boring in there.

When they let you have real food again, have your family bring in some good wholesome foods. That hospital stuff will kill you. Not to mention it all tastes like dirt. ( my sister used to bring my Starbucks Frapps. Although, I know Emily wouldn't approve, They were to die for after endless days of ice chips and jello.

I hated anything that touched my incision. I actually cut my undies right down the front.

I lounged around the house in those mens pajama bottoms. Make sure they are really loose.

When you get home and even in the hospital...walk. Walk a lot. Then walk some more. It will speed up your recovery and make you feel good at the same time.

I'd better stop. I'll end up using up a couple of pages here.

E-mail me if you like. I's be happy to chat.

Best of luck. You will do great.


Posts: 708
Joined: May 2004

OK, just one more note. You can't even begin to imagine all the costs of cancer treaments.... try not to even think about it, just be thankful you have good insurance! Wait til after surgery! Keep all medical receipts, depending on your insurance coverage, you may get a tax deduction for medical expenses. I didn't come close, but spent a year of saving all of it. I think if you spend more than $2000 you get a break, but I could be wrong.

My epidural was in place at least 3 days, maybe longer.. I was in the hospital 7 days. I had major plastic surgery because of all the tissue that was removed, another story.

Pain control was great. The doctors are ready for it all. With an epidural, I was up and walking the day after surgery. I was told I would go to the ICU for a night, but didn't need it and went right to the floor. The nurses are wonderful, with a few exceptions... that's when you need people at the hospital to help.

I definately agree to let friends do things. I am a VERY strong and independent woman. I learned to accept it all. Neighbors I hadn't met bringing over dinner, etc. A close friend told me she felt she was actually helping by covering for me at work! Accept it ALL. Just make mental notes of all favors and put deposits in the favor bank. I try all the time to do things for others. It makes the world a better place. This is your time. Cancer sucks - no way around that. But with new treatments we can fight and WIN.

Visit us whenever you need a happy note.

MJay's picture
Posts: 132
Joined: Aug 2004

I am working on letting other people help. It isn't easy for us Little Red Hens. LAst night I had to call to make arrangements for my son to go play at his buddies house so I could go to a doctors appt. The mom was more than happy to watch him. When I hung up the phone I burst into tears. So silly. But so cathartic. MJ

nanuk's picture
Posts: 1362
Joined: Dec 2003

A few sites for you to explore RE Colostomy:

Posts: 1961
Joined: Aug 2003

Hi MJ,
I'll be thinking of you on the 14th. I don't have any new suggestions but I want to echo two that have been said already: (1) get out of bed as soon as you can and start walking. After I got home, I walked every day, and I believe it really helped my recovery. (2) accept offers of help. Maybe even have a list so that, when people call and say "what can I do to help", you can make a suggestion! Many of my friends said they felt so helpless - and actually wanted something concrete they could do.
Best wishes,

kangatoo's picture
Posts: 2115
Joined: Feb 2004

MJ--as usual kanga finds that our time diffrence has caught me napping--lol
All of the above and then some. Hey MJ --yu will be fine!!!!!
Normal protocol for surgery candidates is for kanga to send a "rainbow"--It's coming your way on the 14th MJ--just remember when you wake up to look for what is at the end of it--not gold---LOVE-from kanga n Jen in OZ.

BTW--kanga wore a caftan after surgery--looked wierd on me but VERRY comfy!

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