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getting back to physical activity after rectum removal

Posts: 1
Joined: Feb 2005

My rectal surgery is March 4, less than two weeks away. It is major surgery: they will take out the rectum so my "butt" will be stiched up. I am looking for advice on how and when I can return to physical activity. Specifically, I need to get on my recumbent exercise bicycle as soon as possible in order to strengthen my weak left knee (I can barely walk right now). And I am looking for any ideas for using pillows, etc, to be able to sit up and use a laptop computer shortly after surgery. Any thoughts will be greatly appreciated.

johnom's picture
Posts: 86
Joined: Jul 2004

Hi, there. I had half my rectum removed last May, so I feel your pain. First, I strongly recommend you get an epidural block if they are offering you one. You will be very glad you did, since it hangs in there for about 4 days or so, and they are the worst of the days usually. You could certainly use a laptop with the block going on because you can't feel anything in the surgical area. Unfortunately, you will also no doubt have an NG tube until your bowels can start moving again. It is tough but there is an end to it, and it comes out in a matter of two seconds when they get ready to remove it.
At Wal-Mart or your drugstore they sell an inflatable cushion near the pharmacy where the canes and ace bandages are sold. I bought one and it was extremely helpful. In my case I don't think it was any better than the non-inflatable donut I was given as a present to sit on at work. With some pain meds and the donuts to sit on, you are probably able to ride the bike in a month or so. You will be sore though. Maybe they could do some phys. therapy on your knee while you are in the hospital laid up, also.
I hope it all goes well, as I am sure it will.
Let us all know what happens.


johnom's picture
Posts: 86
Joined: Jul 2004

P.S.....I suspect you will get enough excercise running to the bathroom for a few months when you leave the hospital. Maybe you won't need to use the bicycle as much?

Posts: 1961
Joined: Aug 2003

Hi. This sounds like the same procedure I had, almost 2 years ago. You should be able to return to physical activity quite soon. The nurses had me out of bed "walking" 24 hrs after surgery (ouch!). I was encouraged to walk a lot after the surgery, and I did - I think this helped my recovery. I was in hosp for about a week, but walking in the hospital as well when I came out. Pillow is a good idea for sitting. I was advised NOT to use a "donut" pillow, as some believe it can pull on the stitches. The only thing I would say is that sitting can be uncomfortable for quite a while after this surgery (standing, walking, lying down all OK). So, I'm not sure about bike. But, you can see. Please keep in touch and all best wishes.

aspaysia's picture
Posts: 257
Joined: Nov 2003

I used a donut after my first surgery and started coming apart at the seams. After a second tumour was discovered they did a muscle flap at the same time. Through some gross mis-management of my recovery, a pysiotherapist showed up at my door to lead me through exercises designed to put me back on my feet. Bad idea! I spent the next year in wound mangement -- including another muscle flap. I am one of those radiation sensitive patients. I do not heal easily but too much activity too soon contributed to my problem.
Try to avoid friction and pressure in that area. You want to avoid adhesions but don't push it or you may end up like me; bedridden for weeks on a special air mattress that sang to me. It sounded like the theme from "Close Encounters"
Fortunately, I love to read in bed.

nanuk's picture
Posts: 1363
Joined: Dec 2003

you won't want to get on the bike for a while..walking was the first thing I could do comfortably..they gave me a sponge rubber cushion, which I used a lot..it might help on the recumbant. I use a back support on my recumbant, but believe it or not, the upright stationary bike
is less stressful on my rear. If you have the right seat, the two pelvic bones will be supported
and minimize friction, but you won't be doing much
on the bike right away. Nanuk

Posts: 835
Joined: Apr 2004

Good advise above- you will need to take a very patient graded approach to exercise after the op. Start just by walking again. They advise no strenuous exercise and in particular liftin for around 6 weeks. Be guided by how youfeel though and also by any post op treatment you are having eg post op chemo. I found after my resection I could walk for up to an hoour within a month but running was out of the questoin til at least two to three months. It is a greater physical up heaval than I have ever experienced previously and took a long time to psychologically adjust to being less physically robust- hard when the worst illness you have ever had previously is a touch of flu!
Be patient, give yourself time to theal and doon't over do it- the last thiing you want is to burst any stitches or slow your wounds healing- esp those in 'sensitive' areas!

shmurciakova's picture
Posts: 910
Joined: Dec 2002

I would just say to voice these concerns to your doctors. Ask for physical therapy for your knee and let them know you are worried about it. I did not have rectal surgery - mine was in the Sigmoid colon - so I do not have any experience w/ the stiches in the "butt" per se. But I would just express to the docs that you are worried about your knee deteriorating and see what they advise.
Good luck! Susan.

MJay's picture
Posts: 132
Joined: Aug 2004

I had my surgery 9/04 and I am still not fully mobile. Of course, my healing was suspended by chemo. Once off chemo I noticed a huge difference in my healing rate. But still to this day... 2 months off chemo and 5 months out of surgery, the idea of sitting on a bike hurts just to think about it.

I think the suggestion about getting alternative methods of physical therapy for your knee is a good one and very appropriate.

Patience.... one day at a time... and baby steps.

Posts: 719
Joined: Feb 2005

I use a pillow in my care to boost me in the seat when I drive which has a hole in the middle - where your incision might be. It might have been from a back store, and it was about $60.00 a few years ago; you might even be able to just put it on the recumbent seat - at first - to lessen pressure on the area.

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