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Surgery post op symptoms

Posts: 39
Joined: Oct 2007

hello, I am new to this forum. I am a 41 yr old female. I am 5 weeks post op from resection surgery do to rectal cancer. Since my surgery I have been experiencing the need to use the bathroom frequently, but I don't always go, and I have the feeling of incomplete evacuation which is quite uncomfortable. My tummy is still distended but soft (I've always had a flat abdomen)how long does the swelling take to go down? Has anyone experienced any of these symptoms after surgery and if so are they temporary?

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jenalynet's picture
Posts: 363
Joined: Nov 2005

I also had surgery for rectal cancer. It took some time for me to get adjusted after surgery, I had the same urges also but as time passed, it got better. My normal now is about 3 times a day I need to use the bathroom. I found out from the beginning at least for me, no greasy foods at all because it's like taking a laxitive for me. I think a lot has to do with what we eat. I think you will improve with healing time. Wishing you well, Audrey.

Posts: 266
Joined: Jun 2007

Hello and Welcome,
I too had rectal cancer and experienced the same things. My surgeon explained it to me like this, "I have removed half of your rectum which is your storage tank, now the storage tank will fill up faster so you will have to go more and sometimes with hast. Within a year or maybe sooner your colon will expand to make more storage however things may never be exactly the same. No greasy foods or raw vegies for a while, introduce to your diet slowly."
Hope this helps, Robin

Posts: 39
Joined: Oct 2007

Hello again,

Thanks to all for your input.

Babs211, I agree with you, I was told all about the procedure itself but nothing about what to expect after. I guess that is part my fault for not asking more questions,I just assumed the surgery would make things better for me.

I will definately have to experiment with food. The Thanksgiving holiday was miserable, we were at a house full of people. I spent the majority of time in the bathroom and we ended up leaving early. I'm so glad that I have an understanding family. I feel so guilty having these pity parties, when I should be rejoicing that I'm alive. Its just so hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel when you are going through this.


Posts: 17
Joined: Nov 2007

Hello, I too had colorectal surgery and am experiencing many of the same symptoms.Part of my colon was removed and about 75%of my rectum. I found an article on MDANDERSONS web site that addressed these problems.It was titled Quality Of Life After Colorectal Surgery written by Annette Bisanz.I thought the article was good and printed it for future reference.Best wishes.haar

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83popsong's picture
Posts: 28
Joined: Apr 2006

I really want to second what Babs211 says, and also express my happiness that you refer to your family as understanding. Please don't think of your outreach as a pity party. Like all of us, you are experiencing a form of post-traumatic stress. For many, it isn't even completely post. I had a colon resection (Sigmoid, second in 14 months) on the 24th of October, and am experiencing some symptoms like yours. It is fantastic to get feedback that what's happening is relatively normal. I have a great family (and extended family) as well. They all agreed to watch me carefully, looking for signs. As my colon has been downsized twice, I must be less full of crap!

Happy Holidays to you. Congratulations on a successful surgery.


Posts: 39
Joined: Oct 2007

Love the feedback, thank you. Yes, we definately need colon re-hab!

Just curious, has anyone tried any herbal remedies. A friend said my symptoms sound like those of someone suffering from IBS/IBD (I'm not real familiar with either, as I've never had problems until cancer). Anyway, she says a relative of hers suffers from almost the same symptoms as I, and has started taking Colon Helper $6.00 from Better Living website, and has had much success. I'm pretty desperate, any input?

Haarberg - I'm definately going to look up that article, Thx.

Posts: 405
Joined: Mar 2007

Hello and Welcome!
This is a great place to come for answers and support, so while I'm sorry for what you're going through, you've found a good group of people! My husband also had rectal cancer and had his last surgery in June. We were told that it could take a year or more to recover, and that he would never be back to "normal" Don't let that discourage you. It has been 5 months and although he gets discouraged at times, we feel very fortunate!! He is able to live a normal life. Recently he started following the article from MD Anderson that Haarberg mentioned. It is working very well---we would highly recommend that.

Try to stay positive. It hasn't been too long since your surgery---I am sure you will see a lot of improvement ahead.


Posts: 12
Joined: Nov 2007

I too have had a resection recently (7 weeks from ileostomy reversersal) for the original anastomosis done in August. I have a similar situation regarding evacuation. Mine starts out as constipation and then proceeds through soft stool ending in diarrehia over the course of several hours. I find it necessary to play the colase/imodium game although I have not had to use colase in the last few weeks. The follow up chemo for rectal cancer is also playing havoc too. No two days are the same. My swelling has gone down considerably since the original surgery and so has the swelling from the reversal. It will take at least six months to begin to see what the outcome will be. The best thing I have found is try not to focus on the swelling and try only to take a good look every so often. Then you will notice the progress. Good luck and as we all know it is a very long journey.

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