I am scheduled for rectal surgery soon (tumor is too low to save anything, so colostomy will be required). I'm a 56-yr. old woman, and would like to know if I'll be able to go up the stairs of our two-story condo. Seems like a silly question to me, but I just don't want to assume I'll be able to do that as soon as I get home from the hospital. Also, about how long before they let you drive? Will I require care during the day, or can I get up and down as needed? I realize every case is unique, but I am just hoping for some ballpark info.
Are you sure the tumor is too low to save anything? My rectal tumor was 2-3 cm from the anal verge... EXTREMELY low. They had to do a modified colo-anal pull thru operation, where they resected my rectum, stripped the mucosa in my rectum to the sphincter and stripped the mucosa on the colon and sewed together with a cuff to save my sphincters (we think)... They also removed my lymph nodes, etc. I have a TEMPORARY Ileostomy while the rectum is healing which will be reversed later this week. I am 31 with 2 kids so they told me that they really wanted to try to save my rectum if at all possible. If there were any signs of cancer spread into the sphincters, I authorized an Abdominoperineal Resection (removal of my entire rectum). PLEASE make sure you get the opinion of a colo-rectal surgeon (someone who specializes in colorectal surgeries), or consult with one of the big gun cancer institutions, Memorial Sloan Kettering, etc.
I had an excellent colo-rectal surgeon-- I know many surgeons and their abilities because of my profession in surgical sales--- who painstakingly removed the tumor with a 1.5cm margin on the distal (bottom) side. If they could get that low on me, a male, a good colo-rectal surgeon can definitely get in there for you, a female-- men have more narrow pelvises than females which make rectal surgeries difficult.
Pathology reports were good for tumor margins, but unfortunately I had 6/10 positive lymph nodes post op, even with chemo and radiation pre-op to shrink the tumor. I did Oxiliplatin/5FU/Leucovorin and five weeks of radiation to shrink the tumor pre-op and must do 6 more months of chemo post-op. I was diagnosed as a T3N2 (Stage IIIC).
A colostomy bag is not the worst thing in the world if you have to have it, but please make sure you consider all your options.
I wish you the best of luck. Please keep me posted.
I am not sure whether the colostomy should make too much of a difference to your recovery other than leaning how to cope with it.
My husband and mother had bowel surgery last year and I get the impression that the surgeons always prepare you in advance to expect a colostomy, but it is not always performed. Both mum and husband did not need it.
Recovery differs from one to another i know but my mum who was 77 at time of op was up and about within 2 weeks. She had a slight complication with MRSA so had to stay another couple of weeks so when she did go home she was that much more physically stronger anyway. When she got home she had the nurse come and see her every day for a week and then she was ok. I kept a closer eye on her than i usually do. She lives in a bungalow so did not have steps to contend with.
Husband was 44 at time of op. He was home on 14th day. His stay was slightly extended as the tumour had brown into bladder and so his catheter had to stay in a little longer.
In both cases they were helped out of bed the day after op so they could have a quick wash. Difficult with the tubes. Pain relief was by self administered morphine. The nurses got them both to walk a little more each day and each day it became easier as it seemed a diferent tube was removed.
By day 5 husband was walking to end of hospital ward and back several times a day. Each day after that he walked up and down the stairs. An extra floor each time. He took it steady.
Driving was discouraged for 6 weeks after the op. Care during the day was really minimal and not much more that he would normally get from anyway. I just used to make sure he was up, showered and dressed before I went out to work. His parents live only 10 mins drive away so help was always at hand but he didn't need it.
His wound healed well. Most of his staples were taken out at hospital. The remaining ones were done by the local district nurse. He had a couple of different pain killers but all he needed was paracetamol only occassionally.
Hope the above helps. Good luck with your op and speedy recovery.