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How long can you go without a bowel movement? Update 12/18/13

LindaK.
Posts: 496
Joined: Apr 2013

Hello all.  My husband was diagnosed just about 1 year ago with stage 2 colon cancer, large tumor caused complete obstruction, successful resection, 6 months of Folfox (oxaliplatin cut out after 5 treatments due to obstruction and hospitalization).  He had extreme constipation throughout treatment.  Last chemo in July, clear scans in August.  CEA in August was 3.2 and was 4.2 3 weeks ago.  The past 3 weeks he's been having pains in the lower abdomen which he says are similar to what he had before the cancer was diagnosed.  Saw oncologist Monday who has scheduled ct scan next week and he already had his 1 year colonoscopy scheduled on the 17th.  He told the dr. he was having constipation again.  He has been taking 1-2 doses/day of Miralax, Milk of Magnesia, Senna (not all at once, a variety) with only small outputs.  He's been eating pretty normally, trying to stay with mild food, and not vomiting (yet).  I am very worried, of course.  He thinks it is another tumor.  Of course, I'm hoping it's just another obstruction or problems with a new hernia he's developed.  The dr. did not seem to be too concerned, I wish he would have sent him that day for the scan.  We have been putting heat on his belly, hot drinks and even tried the Smooth Move tea last night.  He is not being very cooperative with simple things to try, like walking, drinking more water, etc.  I told him the minute he vomits we are going to the hospital because he has a history of "crashing" fast when he starts vomiting - his bp tanks and then he's in bad shape.  I hate to be a "b$&ch" but I asked him if he'd rather have another NG tube or take walk around the neighborhood - which is easier?  On top of all this, and not really that important, is I'm having a surprise party for him Friday night to celebrate his delayed birthday and the end of his treatment - great timing right?  I have a feeling that party will be cancelled.

I just can't believe he hasn't had massive diarrhea from the amount of laxatives he's taken, which makes me think now his bowels are irritated from all the stuff that is not passing and he'll be totally obstructed soon if he's not already.  Do you think an enema would help?  I have a feeling everything is stuck from the other side but I guess it couldn't hurt to try. 

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.  I know many of you have been through this and are going through tough times right now. I hate this disease and what it does to people.

Thanks, Linda

Trubrit's picture
Trubrit
Posts: 5226
Joined: Jan 2013

I didn't have a bowel movemnet for two weeks. When I went to the Doctor, he had me do an enema. Oh my word! I was in so much pain I thought I was gong to die. I did pass out at one point, fell off the loo and hit my head. My husband came home during this point and called the ambulence and off to the ER for me. 

I'd be talking to a Doctor before I did an enema if I were you.  I'm also surprised that a scan wasn't scheduled sooner, considering your husbands medical history. 

No, I'd think I'd be back at the Oncologists and pusing for a sooner scan. 

Good luck, and keep us informed. 

abrub's picture
abrub
Posts: 2132
Joined: Mar 2010

I didn't realize that I was impacted - I'd been going a little every day, but when I was in extreme pain, they found that after 2 weeks of itty bitty bms, I was backed up to the max.  An enema didn't work, but lactulose had me moving within hours.  (I thought that by virtue of the fact that I was going, it meant I wasn't constipated.  I learned I was wrong.)

Ask his dr about something else, or at least get an xray to find out if he is just FOS.  It could be that simple.  However, it is important to address sooner rather than later.

LindaK.
Posts: 496
Joined: Apr 2013

He has had several small "movements" the past few days but he did say yesterday morning, "Well, it's official, I am FOS"  Our daughter is a nurse and she said the lactulose would make his potassium crash and then he might need to go to the hospital with his other issues.    She just suggested magnesium citrate, which is something he has taken before for a colonoscopy prep.  He would not call the doctor and won't let me either.  His stomach is not distended like it was before the tumor was discovered and when he had an obstruction in March.  He is feeling better and I can't really make him do anything.  I thank all of you for sharing your concerns and suggestions.  I am concerned about this and I know how serious it can be.  Since I am now familiar to the symptoms when he's starting to crash, I will not hesitate to call 911 at the first sign. 

When he had the obstruction in March, it was 1 day after chemo so the vomiting was something we thought might happen - you know - just another side effect.  They did do a flat panel x-ray and saw something "dark".  They did a cat scan, but he had vomited most of the prep.  The NG tube was necessary to ease the belly pressure and then it cleared itself after a dose of Milk of Magnesia the following night.  We think it was a combination of prolonged constipation and the oxaliplatin along with adhesions and/or scar tissue.  Looks like the Miralax will now become part of his daily regiment.

annalexandria's picture
annalexandria
Posts: 2573
Joined: Oct 2011

You guys have to put up with so much trying to take care of us.  I know I've been a PITA at times about doing what is best for me (Idk about your husband, I just get sick of dealing with crap all the time), so I sympathize with both your husband and you.

Keep us updated on how he's doing, hopefully this can be resolved soon!

AA

abrub's picture
abrub
Posts: 2132
Joined: Mar 2010

for months.  Definitely during chemo, which constipated me terribly.  We had to keep things moving.  I hope that the Mag Citrate works well - it should.  That stuff is powerful.  Check with his dr, tho, because I've heard of problems with disruptions to chemical balances with the mag citrate as well.  Hadn't heard about the problems with the lactulose (but that is Rx in the US.)

marbleotis's picture
marbleotis
Posts: 706
Joined: Mar 2012

I never had this problem but I heard from other that some other meds caused sever constipation issues, especially anxiety meds.

The Onc may want to move his colonoscopy up since he is not feeling well - do not be afraid to ask.

Annabelle41415's picture
Annabelle41415
Posts: 6554
Joined: Feb 2009

It's terrible to go through all of this.  If he doesn't go you need to get him in.  It's frustrating but needs to be resolved.  Even though he he might be going peppbles and says he is FOS means that something needs to be addressed.  Please get something done.  If i"m not going at least once every other day I'm miserable.  Hope he finds relief soon.

Kim

LindaK.
Posts: 496
Joined: Apr 2013

He took about 3-4 oz. of the magnesium citrate last night.  Had some progress last night and again this morning.  Tried to get him to take another 3-4 oz. before I left for work - he wouldn't.  He has been having some cramping, which is mostly annoying and probably the meds trying to break down what's in his gut and intestines.  I totally understand everyone's concern and trying to get him in sooner - I agree, but I can't make him go.  My oldest sister has battled breast cancer and now her husband has bone cancer.  She told both of us it's easier being the patient than the caregiver and she should know, like some of you, being on both sides.  I hate to see him suffering, but he's his own worst enemy sometimes.  He has 'only' been on this journey 1 year next week and he's definitely tired of all the side effects like this.  Maybe the surprise party tonight will scare the crap right out of him!  Thanks again for everyone's advice.  Hopefully things will be better for him soon.

Linda

traci43's picture
traci43
Posts: 775
Joined: Jul 2007

Seriously, I too get tired of doing all the that I should do.  I think the best thing you can do is keep an eye on him and if he starts going south, get him to the ER!  Good luck to you both and celebrate his birthday in style!  Traci

herdizziness's picture
herdizziness
Posts: 3642
Joined: Apr 2010

I was having problems going, would just go very small bowel movements, very painful, but also had blood clots, turned out it was a tumor that had me 95% blocked! it has since been removed and my goodness life is good again.  im just wondering if he's been taking "go" medicine and not going if he's blocked by bowel "goodies" or tumor.  The colonoscopy will do a good job of finding out (that's how we found mine, it didn't show up on scans.

well, hoping the surprise party scares the crap out of him LOL.  

Winter Marie

LindaK.
Posts: 496
Joined: Apr 2013

Well, the surprise party was a big success, he perked right up and had a great evening just as I had hoped for.  He has been going small amounts several times a day, he's been taking small doses of the magnesium citrate.  He seems to have cramps after he eats, even if it's something mild like Rice Krispies and Almond Milk.  The scan is Wednesday and colonoscopy next Tuesday.  His tumor one year ago had him totally blocked which caused 2 visits to the ER within 24 hours (after they sent us home with the news "You have a mass, it's probably cancer, you can go home now and wait 4 days for your colonoscopy")  Wham, bam, thank you ma'am!  I have a feeling it's either his new hernia (at the belly button surgical site) giving him trouble or constipation obstruction.  I guess that's wishful thinking.  He had clear scans in August and was stage 2 and finished 12 rounds of Folfox in July.  I'm hoping he doesn't need surgery, but if that will fix him, he'll need to do it.  We'll see if the full prep doses do their magic next Monday.  Thank you all again, I'll keep you posted.

Linda

LindaK.
Posts: 496
Joined: Apr 2013

Hello again, just back from the oncologist appt.  Scans and x-rays same as in August - NED.  The report said something like "Massive amount of feces" so he literally is full of crap.  He's starting his prep for his colonoscopy tomorrow so hopefully that will flush out his colon.  Between that and not eating solids, I hope he's feeling better by this time tomorrow.  Oncologist said after he's cleaned out, he needs to stay on top of his constipation, which I am always after him to do.  He's just having uncomfortable cramping.  What a relief for both of us to hear it wasn't more cancer.  We'll have to call tomorrow to see what his CEA was today.

Thank you all for the advice and recommendations.  He's a tough patient to help. :-)

Linda

maglets's picture
maglets
Posts: 2596
Joined: Jun 2006

that is such triple whammie bammmie good news!!!! I am sure a lot of us have become impacted over the years fighting the good fight.....I know I have.  Hopefully the colonoscopy prep will clear him out......good luck and thanks for the really good news

mags

LindaK.
Posts: 496
Joined: Apr 2013

More good news after the colonoscopy yesterday - no obstruction and only 2 tiny polyps removed (and he said they didn't look cancerous)  Doesn't have to go back for 2 years.  Dr. said he probably has irritable bowel syndrome.  He wants him to take 5 fiber pills every night and drink 5 glasses of water throughout the day.  Stubborn man says he "hates" water so I asked him if he liked having those cramps?  He drank 3 bottles of water last night along with the 5 fiber pills.  He said he will probably be uncomfortable a few more days but he will have to do this for a very very very long time.  He will follow up with GI dr. in 1 month.  He also suggested continuing with the Activia.  So, overall good news with all tests.  I left him at home this morning with the heating pad and a liter of water. 

Thanks again for everyone's advice.  This anxiety over cancer returning stinks!

Linda

Annabelle41415's picture
Annabelle41415
Posts: 6554
Joined: Feb 2009

That is good news to hear.  Don't ever let constipation get out of control.  I'd rather have the runs than be blocked up.  Good luck with the colonoscopy tomorrow and hope he gets really cleaned out today.

Kim

Nana b's picture
Nana b
Posts: 3045
Joined: May 2009

Suppositories when backed up I used to use the child dose,  it worked Within 15 minutes. B

 

glad all is well 

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