practical advise before surgery

Princey Member Posts: 17

I'm the caregiver to my husband who was diagnosed last June with rectal cancer.  Over the past year we've completed chemo and radiation.  Just yesterday we finally received the surgery date.  June 13th.  I'd love some practical advise/suggestions on how to prepare.  He will have a temporary bag.  We live in a three story house, so lots of steps.  Should i get a plastic cover for the mattress in case of leaks or spills?  extra pillows?  Will he be able to navigate stairs?  will we get some kind of disposal system for bags?    He's 53 in in otherwise good health and is active now.  I know everyone is different, but just some practical housekeeping advice so I can prepare as much as possible before hand.  We have three very active teenagers, so for a time, I will be the only available parent.  Thanks.


  • ThomasH
    ThomasH Member Posts: 106 Member
    Everyone is different, but

    Everyone is different, but when I got my Ostomy, my recovery time was not too bad. I was 48 when I had mine, so fairly similar age. I had my ostomy for about a year, and during that time I had the seal on the bag fail 2 or 3 times. I'm not sure what type of bag your husband will have, but mine was just one I emptied during the day. I kept the same bag on for about 5 days, at which time I changed out the whole thing. For me, there was the stoma (part of the intestine that sticks out of the stomach) over which is placed an adhesive ring. The ring fits fairly snugly around the stoma and seals against the skin. The type I used had a clip that attached the bag to the collar on the ring so that you COULD take the bag off if you wanted or needed, but I didn't personally have a need to do so.

    I don't know anyone with an ostomy who has NOT had it leak at some point. I used to carry around a GO bag that had everything I needed to change the bag, and a spare set of clothes just in case I had a catastrophic failure. That only happened once, but it was pretty spectactular. LOL

    One of the bigger adjustments for me was learning to sleep on my back, rolling over on a partially filled bag can have a bad effect on the adhesive seal. Even if it doesn't cause the seal to fail entirely, the contents of the bag are pretty harsh on the skin. Think diaper rash, but on your belly.

    Recovery for the surgery itself wasn't too bad. I was in the hospital for a couple weeks, but once I got out I was able to manage stairs and moving around without too much difficulty. Moving around is actually highly recommended. It helps the healing process, and you don't want to slow down your circulation if you can manage it. Move around yes, but there will also be quite  a bit of sleeping and recovery. DO NOT OVERDO ANYTHING!! 

    For pain management, as usual, it is easier to maintain your level of meds. By this, I mean that he should make sure he takes them when he is supposed to. I had a couple occasions when I tested if I needed to be taking as much of my meds (which isn't a bad idea, you don't want to be taking more than you need) but if I let it go too much, it was tougher to bring it under control again than it was to just maintain. 

    My total recovery was probably about 6 weeks before I was mostly OK. I wasn't bedridden or anything, but I certainly had varying limitations throughout. Expect some lingering abdominal discomfort. I'm a couple years post surgery and I still find some once in a while. It generally does not limit what I can do in any meaningful way, but it is there.

    I've had to modify my diet somewhat. For me, raw veggies or things like popcorn are definitely out. I can feel where my resections are and I still get some days where food can be uncomfortable. With an ostomy, food will certainly be something you will have to experiment with. Having gas with an ostomy bag can be a real issue if you aren't somewhere you can conveniently deal with it, or if you are asleep at night.

    Those are all the highlights I can think of at the moment. I hope your husband's surgery goes smoothly, and that his recovery is quick and easy.

    Have an excellent day!


  • Trubrit
    Trubrit Member Posts: 5,800 Member
    Welcome to the forum

    I am sorry you need to be here, but now you are, you will surely find it useful. 

     I have used Chucks on the bed instead of a full mattress cover and because I slept between two body pillows, I found they kept in place really well. 

    As for preparing for surgery, I would just suggest allot of healthy eating, exercise & lots of water. 

    After surgery, the sooner he is up and walking, the better. Walk, walk, walk. It gets the bowel moving and the blood flowing and out of the hospital quicker. 

    I didn’t have a bag, so cannot advise on that point. 

    I am sat in the waiting room of a medical facility and there is an exceptionally grumpy man a few feet away.  In my opinion grumpy inhibits recovery. There is nothing better than a positive attitude and sunny disposition. 

    Wishing hubby all the best and we look forward to getting to know you better, and helping in any way we can 


  • Kazenmax
    Kazenmax Member Posts: 463 Member

    it takes a while for your system to start back up. I was advised to drink plenty of water. My husband became the water police and made sure I was drinking regularly. That will help. For me, I was 3 weeks in and out of the hospital because my bowels just would not wake up. I ended up with an NG tube which is not fun. Finally drank some magnesium citrate and that got things going.

    good luck! Sending love and strength for you both!


  • JanJan63
    JanJan63 Member Posts: 2,478 Member
    The three flights of stairs

    The three flights of stairs my be tough depending on how strong he is. But as far as housekeeping, I've had my bag leak a few times in the night but I've had it for over 5 years. When it does I've aways cought it before it's done more than get my nightie wet. I find that it will start to seep out from onder the adhesive and because it's got a lot of stomach acid in it I can feel it on my akin under there, kind of a tickly feeling. I sleep in whatever position I want exceopt fully flat on my front, which I never did anyway. Fpr the first couple of years I always had an emergency kit with me in case of an accident but haven't bothered for years now.

    If there is an accident rinse out whatever the stuff is on as soon as possible. It does stain.


  • Lovekitties
    Lovekitties Member Posts: 3,364 Member
    edited May 2019 #6
    From my experience

    Is hubby getting a temp iliostomy or colostomy?  The reason I ask is because output of ilio is more watery and may lead to higher possibility of leaking.  You may be experimenting with various types and manufactuers products in the beginning, so plastic sheeting might be worth it for the beginning while getting used to it all.  

    The stairs will be a question for the doctor...initially ---maybe up to 6 weeks---those many stairs may be too much for anyone with abdominal surgery.

    I found that sleeping in a recliner helped even just the cats jumping on the bed was a also kept me in a good position...can't do much tossing and turnng in a  Having a body pillow or extra pillows is a personal preference.  I used them until fully healed just to keep me on my side.  Since then I am a tummy sleeper and have no problems...just make sure bag not full at bedtime.

    As far as bag disposal, I use the store brand of a small trash can liner.  Works well and is easier on the pocketbook than specialized bags.

    My nurse said to eat protien rich foods to help speed the healing process.  I got Boost with protien and had a juice size glass of it several times a day.

    From the internet you can get the names of manufactures of the supplies...they will all be glad to send you samples based on your you can find what works best for him.  Depending on where you live you may not be able to get supplies locally.  I order mine over the internet.  There are several supplies, but each will want a prescription from his doctor...they will normally make the contact to get it.

    Wishing you and hubby the best,

    Marie who loves kitties