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Colon Resection after colon ruptured from Diverticulitis

Posted 12-08-2010 12:49 PM by geme

My intent is to keep a journal over time about my Colon Resection and recovery process. I am hoping that anyone who may be looking at going in for a colon resection may find this blog helpful.

A little about myself, I am a 33 year old male who has, up until recently, been in relatively good shape. I started having abdominal cramps and difficulty when using the bathroom, so after a lot of procrastination, insisting that this would go away with time and basic hard-headedness; I finally gave into the pain during a prolonged attack of Diverticulitis.
The first GI specialist that I went to actually missed the fact that I had ruptured my colon and simply sent me home with antibiotics to treat the infection. After about 8 weeks of not having any relief and coming to the realization that I was not back to where I should be, I insisted on having more tests. My GI specialist didn’t seem to be all that concerned and told me to take more antibiotics and call him if I was still having issues. He scheduled a Colonoscopy and some labs at my request, but once the labs came back normal, he cancelled the colonoscopy!!!???

I finally decided to find another GI specialist and that has been the best decision that I have made so far. I had a consultation with the 2nd GI specialist and his plan was to conduct not only a Colonoscopy, but also an endoscopy too along with every lab test that would help him determine my condition.
Unfortunately, I had another severe attack of Diverticulitis immediately following my visit with my doctor and he asked me to come directly to the Emergency Room at the hospital where he worked. They performed a CT Scan with Contrast and immediately identified that the contrast solution was outside of my colon (meaning that my colon had ruptured or perforated).

Probably the coolest part of my ER visit was after 5PM when most doctors would go home after a long day of seeing patients, my doctor came down to the ER to check me out himself. They admitted me into the hospital and treated me with Zosyn (Antibiotics via IV) and kept me for about 5 days.

I was introduced to a surgeon who let me know the game plan was to wait approx 6 weeks for my colon to heal as much as possible and then he would perform a Colon Resection. The surgeon and my doctor checked on me twice a day while in the hospital constantly evaluating whether they should just give me a colostomy or wait it out. Luckily, I was able to wait it out.

Today, they performed the Colonoscopy in the Operating Room just in case I ruptured, giving them the best chance of sorting me out if we had issues. The Colonoscopy went well and I am now in a room waiting to have my surgery tomorrow.

One of the things that I would like to share is about the Prep for the colonoscopy – I was prescribed Movi-Prep, a bowel prep that is the equivalent of swallowing a couple blocks of TNT and then yelling “Fire in the Hole!” It was awful. At first, I had a hard time even swallowing the solution because it was so salty and tasted horrible. At one point, some of it came up. I have drank many things, including cow’s blood with fermented milk in Africa and water from sources that its best not knowing in the Middle East; but this stuff was just nasty.

I found that by drinking through a high volume straw (HSV - McDonald’s Straws are larger than your standard daily straw, hence being a High Volume Straw) I was able to pass the solution past my tongue without having to taste it. Also, the best thing I found to chase it with was a Non-Alcoholic Jamaican Ginger Beer. The pungent aroma of the Ginger cut through the bad taste of the solution that I was chasing,; so again, I didn’t even taste it. I really hope this helps someone, I can’t imagine anyone asking for seconds with that stuff.

Of course, they say the prep is worse than the colonoscopy and they are so right. I got into the OR and they asked me to lay on my side. Once I did that, it was lights out and the next thing I knew, I waking up in recovery. Awesome! I really didn’t want to have memories about that.

The colonoscopy did allow them to take a closer look from the inside and they can use that as a roadmap for tomorrow. The procedure that is planned for tomorrow is a Laparoscopic Colon Resection. I am excited about having my surgeon because I know some people who have had surgery with him and he is great!

Laparoscopic surgery will require four 10mm portholes and an incision approximately 3-4 inches long. That sounds so much better than splitting me open end to end. The expected recovery time in the hospital is 3-5 days with a gradual increase in food intake progressing from clear liquids, full liquids, soft foods and maybe in 6 months I can have a steak again (REAL FOOD).

Of course, with any procedure of this nature, once they get inside, things can change. I will update my blog once surgery is complete and make at least a weekly post to track the progress that I make in recovery.
Tomorrow, I get a “Semi-Colon.”
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  1. Old Comment
    Day 6
    I was released from the hospital yesterday. It’s good to be home.
    The day of surgery, I was prepped and ready by 7am. I slept comfortably through the procedure which ended up lasting about 4.5 hours. They found a large abcess with about 50cc of nastiness inside. They removed that along with about 8 inches of my colon and then reconnected the remaining Colon sections. They then performed the ileostomy and attached a very stylish ostomy bag.
    Upon waking up from surgery, I was so blitzed on pain medication that I could not even tell you what time of day it was. I had a relatively high amount of pain anytime I was required to move, cough or hiccup; plus, I was struggling with abdominal cramps that lasted from 5 to 10 minutes at a time.
    The first night, the physical therapy staff required me to get out of bed and sit upright in a chair for about an hour and a half. Getting out of bed was very difficult, but once I was in the chair, I was ok. Of course, getting out of the chair and returning to the bed was the same painful ordeal. I felt like my belly was going to split open, but it did not.
    The first couple of days after surgery were pretty miserable, I had a bag that needed to be emptied at least 6 times a day and I had to use a urinal in bed. The staff was very good about getting me out of bed to walk/shuffle around three times a day. Everytime that I got up to walk, I was in pain and felt very uncomfortable, but the longer I walked, the better I felt. Walking also helped reduce the cramping.
    The action of walking helpsrelieve pressure from gas. As you move around, it allows gas in your system more freedom; a symphony of sound that is not for mixed company, but it feels much better when it’s out.
    I am now 6 days post-op and I eating mashed potatoes with cheese, turkey sandwiches and pork fried rice. I am still having a lot of tenderness in my abdomen, but I have been assured that this is normal. My pain management seems to be doing a pretty good job, I am taking Vicodin (10mg) every four hours.
    Posted 12-15-2010 at 01:08 PM by geme geme is offline
  2. Old Comment
    Day 9
    It has been a long week. Yesterday, I was feeling pretty well and I went for a long walk. I even felt as if my pain was greatly diminished and I was able to take a full stride for the first time since surgery. (I have been doing the zombie shuffle since the day of surgery).
    Today, I woke up feeling like I had taken two steps forward yesterday and today I am taking two steps back. Apparently, I overextended myself yesterday and today I am paying up for it.
    All of that set aside, I am still getting used to crapping in a bag. The ostomy is taking quite a bit of getting used to. I realized for the first time in my life, I can pee and crap while standing up… Maybe that is just one way to make light of the situation, but you have to keep a good attitude about things.
    I have been looking for ideas of how to mask the sound of my crap bag. I had gas two days ago and with every other step, it sounded like I was trying to jumpstart a weed-eater. The hardest part is not knowing when I am going to pass gas or poo into my bag. This is going to be something that I will have to work through. I can’t be the first person who is self-conscious about the sounds coming from my ostomy.
    Posted 12-18-2010 at 06:35 PM by geme geme is offline
  3. Old Comment
    Day 11
    I had my first post-op appointment with my surgeon since I got out of the hospital. I felt great today. I had some mild pain, but nothing horribly bad.
    My surgeon told me that he sees great improvement and that I am doing as well as could be expected from a patient who recently had colon resection and an ileostomy.
    one of my incisions started to oooze today, but my surgeon did not seem overly concerned about it. As long as it does not begin to swell and get infected, he said this was somewhat normal.
    I went out to eat today after being at the doctor's office and it was just so nice to be able to treat my lovely girlfriend to dinner. I had soup and some bread, so I didn't challenge my body at dinner. Regardless, it was nice to be able to repay her in some small way for all of the care that she has given me before and after surgery.
    I have felt so helpless for the past week and a half and i am just not used to that. I spent 5 days wearing a dress because I hurt to much to care.
    Anywho, I have a positive outlook on tomorrow and the next day. I think taking anything day by day is the best strategy in order not to get overwhelmed.
    I visited with my friend's 17 year old cousin who has been fighting Ewing's Sarcoma for the past 2 years. She is finally in remission and after watching her go through all of the treatment and struggles, I feel like I am in the Pee-wee league, so I can't even complain I guess it has everything to do with how you see things.
    Posted 12-21-2010 at 01:47 AM by geme geme is offline
  4. Old Comment
    Day 14
    Today, I went back to see my surgeon. I called yesterday after my main incision started weeping more yesterday. To add to my concern, I had 2 BMs yesterday…. How could I have a BM when I have an ileostomy?
    When I saw my surgeon today, he was thrilled that I had 2 BMs. Apparently, I was passing anything that might be left in my colon and an active colon produces mucus which will continue to be excreted if my colon stays healthy. So that was good news.
    The weeping that I have been having is also normal. The redness has continued to disappear and that also is good news.
    Today, I took my girlfriend out to the Olive Garden and I ate normal food. That was maybe the best part of the day. It felt so good to get out of the house and have some time with her. I even went shopping for some Christmas gifts.
    I am still experiencing some pain, but the level of pain I am in now is nowhere near what it was last week.
    Posted 12-23-2010 at 08:20 PM by geme geme is offline
  5. Old Comment
    Day 19
    I had a setback Christmas Day, while changing my Ileostomy bag, I ripped some of my stoma open. Long story short, I had gotten Stomahesive (the glue that helps hold your bag on) on my stoma and when I pulled to remove the bag, it ripped the top layer of flesh off of the piece of the intestine that is sewn my outer skin. Did I mention that it hurt like hell?
    That being said, I still have pain coming from my Stoma and it is bleeding a little bit.
    For Christmas, I went to my brother's house and I spent an entire day outside of the house. It felt so good to have the energy to get out and do something for a while. It's the most i have done since before surgery.
    I go to see my surgeon on Thursday for a checkup, so we'll see what he says. My main incision is still weeping and that may be cause for concern.
    Posted 12-28-2010 at 05:24 PM by geme geme is offline
  6. Old Comment
    One Month later
    It has been a long road, but I have learned a lot. The biggest lesson that I have learned is that if my Stoma is not happy, nobody is happy. I started getting irritated skin around the stoma and I thought that if I cut my appliance larger to accommodate the irritated skin, it would allow the irritated skin to heal… I was so wrong. The irritation just spread. I finally came to the conclusion that I must apply my appliance on top of the irritated skin regardless of the fact that I would be placing an adhesive on raw flesh. It hurt, but within a few days, the irritation was under control and I feel so much better.
    Yesterday, I felt so well, that I went shopping with my girlfriend just to get out. I ended up buying a bunch of stuff at Hobby Lobby and constructing a belt to help support the weight of my ostomy appliance. I couldn’t find anything that fit what I was looking for, so I built my own. After hours of sewing last night, the finished product is done. It is awesome! Once I got it adjusted to the width of my body, I found that the ostomy belt supports my appliance very well.
    One of the main issues that I have had is that I found the 2 piece ostomy appliances uncomfortable, so I prefer the one piece ostomy devices. The only drawback that I have found is that the one piece ostomy device that I have has no means of securing it with a belt. Problem solved.
    I am looking forward to going to church tomorrow. I haven’t been to church since my surgery a month ago and it will be great to see everyone. Of course, I am concerned about being in a quiet room with the gastric sounds emitting from my ostomy, but maybe I can get by without anyone noticing. I am still very self-conscious about crapping into a bag while around people, it is just not a normal feeling. We’ll see how it goes.
    Posted 01-08-2011 at 04:38 PM by geme geme is offline
  7. Old Comment
    I understand what you are going though.I have had my ostamy for several years. What help the skin irritation is that you use a liquid skin barrier. They look like alcohol wipes. i get them from the pharmacy. You still get the skin irritation from time to time but it really helps. I felt really selfconscious at first but it gets better. I love the freedom of an ostamy. I could only go to places with public bathrooms and I always had to be aware of where they were. Now I can take long car trips and go anywhere I want.Good luck.
    Posted 04-30-2011 at 10:27 AM by green43050 green43050 is offline

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