I had a colectomy in Dec. 2002 after a lifetime of abdominal problems. My surgeon told me that I would go from constipation, pain, and colonic inertia to having 6-8 movements a day. This is exactly what happened. At the beginning, stool was at least formed but now it is almost always like water. I still have control of the movements, but the constant diareahha is becoming more than a little "troublesome".
I have been modifying my diet: I eat no raw fruit or vegetables, spicy foods, anything made with tomatoe sauce, nothing highly processed, nothing highly preserved, highly-grained bread or crackers; I drink no soda, milk, juice, or sugar drinks; I try to limit the amount of sugar-sweetened or salted snacks; I only drink 1-2 cups of regular coffee a day.
I do eat and drink: soymilk, plain yogurt & cottage cheese, potato or buttermilk bread, plain saltines, white rice, oatmeal & other hot cereals (not the sugar-sweetened kind), fresh sweet potatoes & white potatoes, applesauce, tapioca.
I tried Metamucil wafers once - for a week - but maybe I didn't trial it long enough. Has anyone found anything else to eat or drink that helps the consistency of the stool with a colectomy (without a colon) or am I stuck with this type of bowel movement? My surgeon told me I could take Imodium AD, as much as I want, for the rest of my life - but it seemed to only slow down the process, not change the consistency of the stool.
I have heard a lot of good things about taking a calcium supplement. Apparently the Caltrate brand in the purple box (Caltrate D plus Minerals) is the correct type of calcium to take for diarrhea. Only 40% of the calcium is absorbed into your system and the rest goes straight into the intestines, soaking up the excess liquid. It has really helped so many people with dabilitating diarrhea. I use it when my IBS acts up and it works like a charm. A little too good sometimes. It can actually make you constipated it works so good. I have heard to start out with 1/2 a pill with every meal. If after a day or two this does not change your situation, you can increase the dose to 1 pill with each meal.
There is also a prescription medication that does the same thing called Questran. It soaks up the excess liquid in the intestines. The only drawback is that you need a RX making it a little less convenient than the calcium.
You are right about the Immodium. With bad diarrhea, it just slows down the innevitable. You need something to soak up the extra liquid, making the BM more formed. You might also want to try soluable fiber supplements as well or even in addition to the calcium/questran treatment. Start at a low dose and work your way up to as much as 3 times a day at the full doseage (whatever it states on the container) as it may cause excess gas at first. A good one is Metamucil. There is also a soluable fiber supplement called Equalactin. It has polycarbophyl in it as the main ingredient. This ingredient is an absorbant as well.
Calcium with each meal (or Questran by RX)
Soluable fiber supplement up to 3 times a day.
I had a temporary, so didn't encounter your situation . . . but have you checked out the American Ostomy Association (or something like that, it will show up in a search)? You might get more ideas there.
Thank you very much for your response. It is so frustrating when you feel like you have to live with an almost unbearable situation. I will be going out today to pick up the products you mentioned. I will try the calcium product first and then add the other if the first doesn't work on it's own. This might sound weird, but I am actually looking forward to it. To finally find something that works would be a Godsend. Thanks again. Shirley
I'm considering having this surgery myself. I've suffered with colon inertia my whole life (50) and I've relied on laxatives forever. I was told 20 years ago that I would most likely need surgery, and my constipation has gotten worse over the years. I'm very nervous about taking such a huge step, but living the way I have the last couple years isn't much fun either. Laxatives don't work like they used to, and I end up with terrible stomach pains and just alot of discomfort until I take more laxatives and eventually they work. Any words of wisdom? Are you glad you had the surgery, even though you're still having problems? Thanks!
I had suffered the same as you, all my life I had constipation, popping laxatives, going to my GP to get enemas etc.... I finally got referred to a surgeon that took me seriously about how bad it was. And after 28 years of suffering I had a collectomy with ileorectal anastomosis (no bag) last September. I am now over 3 months post op and would never want to be the way I used to be. I have bad days, but they are outnumbered by the good now. It does take a while for you work out what your body "likes", but your body is very good at telling you when it doesnt! I eat nearly everything I used to apart from salad, spicy food, carbonated drinks and nuts and seeds. When my bms get a bit watery I take regulan (UK equivalent of metamucil) and Immodium to slow things up a bit. The one big thing I have had to change is my toilet paper - have to buy the softest now!!!
I am still glad I had the Colectomy done after all these years. I had suffered my entire life (54) with pain, constipation and colonic inertia. I would never want to experience the drop-to-your-knees excruitating pain episodes I experienced before I had the Colectomy again. One year after the Colectomy, I had a blockage - with that surgery, it was discovered I had a multitude of hernias (external) running up and down the small bowel, which also contributed to the extreme pain I had all my life. So these were "scraped off" during the blockage repair. I have been fine ever since.
For the 2 1/2 years after the Colectomy, I had little trouble with bm's and for the first time ever "went" regularly with soft-formed stool. It's only been in the last 6 months or so that I've had problems with no-form or runny stool. But I still have "gone" regularly and have complete control. Even with this happening, I am still glad I had the Colectomy. I would not go back to how it was with my colon.
My best advice is expect a big change in your life and expect that it might continue to change later. Initially, until I started eating solid food, and was used to my system - I stayed home. I was afraid of "accidents" - but it never happened. My small intestine was directly connected to my rectum, and I still had control over those muscles. That is what my surgeon was concerned about doing the proceedure - whether I'd have control of my bowels. And I do. That's what matters, because you still feel you can do normal daily activities.
Thank you both for your answers. I'm in the process of more testing. I came home in shock when the Colon and Rectal Doctor suggested this surgery. As I said, my own doctors feel this is extreme, but only someone who has lived with constipation their whole life can understand. The doctors say "drink water, exercise, more fiber". I drink lots of water and am very active. Fiber, in fact, makes things worse.
I do have a couple other questions, and I'm sure I'll have plenty more if and when I decide to go through with the surgery. How long do you think I would be home from work? I work in a building where the bathroom is NOT convenient to my office--I'd have to run down the hall, up some stairs and around a corner! Also, we're pretty active socially. How long do you think I'd have to "stay close to home?" Also, how much weight should I expect to lose? I could afford to lose a few pounds, but I have visions of looking anorexic!! LOL
Again, thanks for your answers and if you can think of anything I should be asking my doctors, I'd appreciate it.
Most people I have came across have been off work 2 - 3 months depending on job. I havent been back at work yet - only because I have another condition (not related) giving me problems at the moment. I wouldnt worry too much about the toilet, I had a 4 hour car journey at the weekend and we only stopped once for a "visit!" You gain control quite quickly, I have had the rare accident (I now carry spare underwear just incase, more for reassurance than anything else) But everyone is different. In the 9 days I was in hospital I lost 18 pounds, but I have put the majority of it back on again.
My own doctor was saying the same to me as well, I had work colleagues trying to get me to change my mind (I work in a hospital), but as you say if you havent been in our position it is difficult to understand how awful life can get. I got to the stage that I had to take a day off sick every 2 weeks to try and "sort" my bowel out!!
You will be recovered from your surgery in the normal amount of time, like most surgeries; but for your body to be adjusted to your new bowel system, I'd say give yourself 6 weeks to 3 months. I don't know if you would have to stay home the entire time that your body adjusts to your new bowel system - that would be up to you. Though I never had any accidents, I worried that I would, so I wore small absorbent panty liners (like Kotex) all the time. The proximity of the restroom won't be a problem for you, as you will have control of your bowels. You will have more pressure from the gas, but this you can control also. But your boss and colleagues would have to know that you will be 'going' more frequently from then on.
I lost 12 lbs. while in the hospital and another 8 lbs. at home. A suggestion: if you eat mini-meals every few hours, you will have comfortable small bowel movements. If I eat the normal three large meals a day, I have larger more forceful bm's. I have had to cut out certain foods that do not digest, or they just go right through my system quickly - and you might have to do this also. Mine are raw vegies and fruit (except bananas), whole-grain crackers & breads, tomato-based sauce dishes.
You make adjustments with your new system - but it is worth it if having your colon was absolutely unbearable. Shirley
I think my doctor said I should be in the hospital approximately 7 days if everything went "perfect" in recovery and recuperation. It didn't go that way for me - and please don't let this frighten you - but I developed a blockage as soon as they started me on a little solid food. (An area in the small intestine wasn't working yet, so food just stopped and backed up right there.) I vomited about 1/2 a day, slept for about 18 hours straight, and then was fine. I didn't require any additional surgery - my system just wasn't ready yet. I went home 1 1/2 days later and didn't have any more problems with food. But I must tell you, my own system is very, very slow at recuperation. Whenever I've had any kind of surgery, recovery has always, and I mean always, taken longer than the normal person. Other people I have talked to have gone home in 5 days, so it just depends on your own body. Good luck. Shirley