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Countdown to Surgery...

BusterBrown's picture
Posts: 221
Joined: Mar 2005

I'm going in for surgery next Tuesday and will become the latest member of the semicolon club. I've been off the chemo now for 3 weeks, did 8 cycles of folfox, and I have to say I feel pretty good. Food is starting to taste better, energy level is up, and so too are my spirits. I'm several days away from my resection surgery and I'm a little nervous, not so much about the surgery, it's the healing part. So for those of you that have been through this let me know what your experiences were when you were on the mend. What kind of complications did you have, if any???

Posts: 484
Joined: Jan 2005

Oops...ignore my post to you on the previous posting. I thought you were back already. As for complications, while not strictly complications in the medical sense, be prepared to poop a lot. Also, pain at the incision site. Both got better for me. The incision pain lasted awhile and I still feel it slightly when doing sit-ups. Not too bad, though. It took awhile to eat a "normal" meal. While in the hospital you'll be on IV first, then clear liquid diet, then liquid diet (you'll get the difference), then soft foods. They discharged me as I started soft foods so was on that for a few weeks after coming home. Your body will tell you what you can eat and how much. Eventually you should be eating normally again. I was out of work for 5 or 6 weeks but had laprascopic surgery. Not sure how long recovery for open surgery. Good luck--you'll get through it. I've come to learn that while this is serious for us, the surgeons have a great deal of experience with this type of surgery and do it frequently.

Posts: 186
Joined: Nov 2004

Hey Buster...I can tell you what I know from helping my wife after her surgery back in October; they removed about 18" of colon, among other stuff. Considering the extent of the surgery, she healed pretty quick. Eleven or twelve days in the hospital total. She was up and walking around the hospital about day six I think.

She had the same routine that Howard had with the food part.

The initial healing stage was pretty uncomfortable, but once she got home, she improved pretty quick.

Good luck!!! Let us know how things go.


Posts: 106
Joined: Mar 2005

wow! from what i read from the other replies, mine was EASY!!! I had a third of my colon out-- normal incision-- longitudinally across the midline over the belly button. I was in the hospital for 1 week, 1 week recovery and back to work the following week. During my recovery week, I went on a long trip out of state, and to the beach several times. I would have been discharged sooner but there was no "passing gas" or BM to confirm to the dr that I was okay. They would not let me eat until I passed gas. I walked most of the time I was in the hospital. I was given an epidural during surgery and for the first 2-3 days!!! it was awesome because I did not feel the incision at all while on the epidural pump. Walking helps a lot!!! I lost a LOT of weight. Once I started eating, I too let my body tell me what toeat--- soups, sweet potatoes were my best meals. I had my resection BEFORE the chemo-- It may make a difference. Other secret weapons were: keep a pillow handy to press over your incision when you sneeze, cough, or laugh!!!! AND--- I found a "waist trimmer"-- kind of like a girdle but just around the waist-- like ACE bandage--- and kept it on all the time to keep my abdomen from being vulnerable to coughs, movements, etc.... I barely felt the pain. Of course, oxycodon, ibuprofen, and darvocets were my friends for a few days, also. You will be fine. You will be in my thoughts and prayers. blessings, NeelieC
ps. Thanks for your help in the anemia post-- low RBCs.

Posts: 1961
Joined: Aug 2003

Best of luck with the surgery. I agree with previous post (Neeliac) to keep a pillow handy to press firmly over the wound site if you feel you are about to laugh, sneeze or cough. My other advice would be to get out to bed as soon as possible after the surgery (they will probably make you do this!), and start walking. Walk around the hospital wards and, when you get home, walk every day if you are able. Third, insist on adequate pain relief. I think this greatly enhances recovery. Finally, take it a little easy -- give your body time to heal. They say complete recovery from major surgery can take to 3 months (although you may well be running around/working before then - I was). But be kind to yourself. We'll be thinking of you. Keep us posted.

jsabol's picture
Posts: 1156
Joined: Dec 2003

I would definitely endorse the epidural + general anesthesia option. I've had other abdominal surgeries for unrelated reasons, and having the epidural for 72 hrs post op felt like a miracle to me. I went home after 5 days in the hospital, took oxycodone for 2 nights, then just Tylenol.
Best of luck to you; listen to your body. I was pretty tuckered out, but back in the swing full time after 5 weeks. Judy

Posts: 118
Joined: Mar 2005

Hi Buster,
I'll be praying for you next Tuesday. I was fortunate enough to find a Laprascopic Surgeon for my colestomy. I had a 3" incision just above the pelvic area and 2 small puncture holes for the TV cameras and tools. No staples or outside stitches; just small pieces of tape(like masking tape) overlapped on the incision. It was Laprascopic Assisted so that's why I had the 3" incision. He did a bioposy of a cyst on my liver, another on a fibroid on my uterus; both came back benign, Thank God. Then he did the resection of my ascending colon and a small section of the small intestines. I was walking the next day. It was painful, due to my wierd body not getting relief from the morphine drip. I went in for surgery on Friday and was released on Sunday afternoon. Pain was relieved much more on Percocet by mouth. Only needed pain killers for 6 days; wanted to be able to drive. Was able to have a BM in about 4 days, ate soft foods for a couple weeks. I really feel blessed to have had minimal pain or problems. I really hope you have as easy of an experience. I really was anxiously dreading it and it turned out not that bad. Think positive and get up and walk as soon as possible!!! You will feel better sooner if you do. Hope all goes well for you.

Posts: 22
Joined: Apr 2004

My best advice would be to WALK WALK WALK...even if you don't feel like it. I didn't walk enough at first and as a result it was 8 days before I was able to pass gas. Another piece advice -- when I was given the go-ahead to eat whatever I wanted (after passing gas), the hospital cafeteria brought me beef stroganoff. I went from broth to beef stroganoff. Needless to say my stomach couldn't handle it. I wish I had asked a family member or friend to bring me something that I wanted to eat, rather than eat what the hospital brings you.

I also had the epidural and it helped a great deal. Good luck and I wish you a quick recovery!

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johnom's picture
Posts: 86
Joined: Jul 2004

Best of luck in your surgery. In a strange way, for me, it was the least problematic of the whole experience.
l.)Get an epidural if at all possible, it IS wonderfully effective.
2.) Walk, walk, walk, ASAP and as far as possible like everyone suggests.
3.) Pray they remove the NG tube as soon as they can, it's quite an experience.
4.) When home, eat small, small meals rather than big ones for awhile. I got no advice either, and you will be camping in the potty by the hour. You will need wipes and desitin because you will get the infamous ring of fire when you hit BM number 24 or 25 within an hour...we've all been there.
5.) Be prepared to take a lot of shallow baths to soak you aching bottom, too. At first you will be passing string bean size waste. The trick is to let the swelling and insult to the area subside over time and retrain your bowel to hold it in for periods of time. I recommend you keep a good supply of immodium handy, although for the first few weeks they want everything to keep moving inside of you. Also, as pointed out, the advice to "eat whatever you want" is misguided. I was only able to tolerate root beer and graham crackers for a couple of weeks for some strange reason. Everyone is different, but the main thing to remember is you will eventually reach a better situation than right after the surgery.

Take care.


Posts: 4
Joined: Apr 2005

Hi Buster,

I had my surgery March 16, so it's been about 9 weeks for me since the experience. I, like most others I'm sure, was scared to death, but honestly it wasn't bad at all. I was prepared for an ilestomy, but luckily didn't need one. I was in the hospital for 7 days - the first 5 were living off the IV (nothing allowed to pass by mouth), then 1 day of clear liquids, and on the last day I started eating real food. Since I handled it well, I was released.

I couldn't have an epidural due to my blood counts (I was only off chemo 1 week when I had my surgery), but I had a morphine like on demand drip, and was fine with that. Also, I had hand assisted laproscopic surgery, so my incisions are small. I took pain meds when needed for like three days after being discharged, and didn't even need tylenol or anything after that. I was up and walking around the hospital two days after the surgery.

The advice about desitin and wipes is right on. My rump was in so much pain when they removed the rectal tube and I actually started going to the bathroom on my own. It actually got to the point where I would sit on ice packs to numb the area because it was so painful. But with the cream and the ice packs, I felt better in a few days.

My BM experience seems to be a bit different than everyone else... I was like the others in that I had frequency and urgency and a few small accidents the first week or so after surgery. After that, I had the small string bean stool that others have spoken of, but all formed from that point on - no immodium or bulkers necessary. I'm still not regular and do still occassionally have the "razor blade" feeling as things pass through.

As for diet - I was given pretty strict orders to follow for a minimum of four weeks after the surgery. Essentially no fiber, spicey food, nuts, seeds, etc. Lots of soft, mushy things and I'm just starting to eat normally again. The doctor said to re-introduce things into my diet slowly and see what happens. As others mentioned, lots of small portions instead of three large meals is recommended.

I know I said a lot here, but I hope some of it helps. Since I recently went through what you will soon experience, if I can answer any other questions for you, please let me know!

Best of luck with the surgery. You will do great!

Skier03 :-)

kangatoo's picture
Posts: 2115
Joined: Feb 2004

Struth guys n gals..better send your surgeons over here!! Nah..I have to say my surgeon was brilliant, however there were some problems. I think I told you them before Buster so I won't elaborate. I was the 1 in 1,000 that the epidural did not fully work. Even tho I had some complications I spent 6 days in hospital and felt pretty good after about 12 day. The BM's were pretty much the same as already stated, however my surgery needed a incision from pubic bone to breast bone, mainly beause the sugeon neede to remove more than he hought to get clear margins. So....each is different Buster in a lot of ways. My doc always said, "after surgery do what you can when you can....listen to your own body ".You will be fine mate.....we will be thinking of yah.
Your friends, kanga n Jen

nanuk's picture
Posts: 1362
Joined: Dec 2003

not sure what type of resection youare doing, but in consideration of your surgeon, you might ask s/he what or what not to eat before..mine gave me the messy details after the fact..I had total mesorectal excision w/permanent colostomy, and was on a plane home in 8 days. Nanuk

taunya's picture
Posts: 392
Joined: Jul 2002

Hi Buster,
I hope your surgery goes well. I had some local pain but the thing that I noticed the most was how LONG it took to get back to my normal self. I lost a lot of strength and muscle tone. I left the hospital the next day and the surgery was uneventful (such as it can be) but it took me over a year to get myself back together. I finally started jogging and then the next year I started going to the gym. I was surprised and a little frightened by the whole thing.
Here's to a speedy recovery and many years NED.


spongebob's picture
Posts: 2599
Joined: Apr 2003

Buster -

You're going to do great tomorrow! No sit-ups for at least 4 hours after surgery. No basketball or football for at least a day. No lifting weights over 2 hundred pounds for two days.

Otherwise, you'll be back at it quickly.


- SpongeBob

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