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  • Rectal Cancer Survivor, resection July 2004; bowel symptoms today

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    Old 01-18-2008, 12:16 AM   #1
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    Question Rectal Cancer Survivor, resection July 2004; bowel symptoms today

    Hi to everyone here on the "disorder" board!

    I am 46 yo female and a returning poster from the Cancer: Colon board back in '04 when I was going through cancer treatment, surgery, etc. I found the board to be extremely helpful because I was wanting to talk to others and could not find any kind of support group in my medical community.

    So, now....... I'm experiencing some bowel issues that I'm not sure are 'fixable' or 'common' and I wonder if an anyone else out there can relate to any of my issues. I'm thinking that you all might have some thoughts or experiences to share with me. Here's some more background.....

    My cancer treatment for rectal cancer consisted of radiation and chemo in an initial 4-week intense treatment that included radiation every day and I wore a chemo fanny pack of 5FU via a direct line to my mediport. Intention being that reducing the cancer growth prior to any surgery would lessen the margins and of course, shrink the nastiness and hopefully result in the need to have less colon tissue removed. I had a surgery that included a colon resection, fully hysterectomy and an appendectomy. My surgeon was excellent and his specialty is the colon and he teaches and gives seminars worldwide about laproscopic surgeries. However, I needed the full open type surgery with all the parts that were removed. Just wanted to communicate to those reading that the surgeon had all my respect due to his experience. No colostomy.... just the remaining parts in the upheaval post surgery state.

    I spent 5 days in the hospital following the surgery, came home for nearly a week and developed an internal abcess. Went back into the hospital and was there a full 7 days and came home to TPN and complete bowel rest with a drain line that they drilled access for through the right cheek of my *ss--right through those glueteous muscles some of us work hard to keep toned --- yoweee!. (I swore they used an oil drill!!!) Was on the TPN (surgeon called it steak and potatoes in a bag!) for 3 weeks.

    So, I assume the normal things happened. I finally got the drain removed and was able to begin eating, etc. Freaked out about diet, was directed to follow low residue and eventually given the go-ahead for more fiber to be included.

    All things have been going along "fine". I guess fine anyhow - I'm not sure what fine wouldn't be. I'm alive and I know the alternative is much worse. 6 feet under. In April of 06, to check the status of possible recurrence of the ca, I had a abdomen/pelvic CT Scan and the pre-test cocktail blazed through me and I nearly turned my colon inside out passing the stuff.......... Almost immediately after drinking it! Being a newly-divorced woman, home alone, that night I drove myself to the emergency room with a major bleeding issue from my rectum. I would call it hemorraging. The ER doc thought I was making more of it than it was, they tried to give me some pill and send me on my way. The didn't understand how much I was bleeding, so b4 I left the ER, I used the bathroom and pulled the cord for the nurse.............. no answer! ha! I opened the door and asked the nurse to ask the doctor to come to the lavatory -- I'd lined up blood soaked toilet tissue on the sink top. I told him "I think you need to see this." He said ok, you're staying here tonite. I was very scared and desperate so I was glad I'd finally got his attention. The blood was blubbing out my rectum.

    They called it collitis..... maybe ulcerative collitis. I call it bad reaction to the CT cocktail!!! It kind of took care of itself and the bleeding subsided. Not quite sure how, but it did -- at least I think it did.

    Oncologist says........ no need to have that test again for a whole year! Well the next April '07 I said - "forget it!" I wanted to enjoy the summer and delayed the test. My colon was just beginning to behave and I was feeling pretty good most days. In September I thought I should go ahead and have the "annual" CT scan (5 months later than the oncologist prescribed). The cocktail was somewhat easier to handle and they told me that it was a new formula since so many people had problems. Well I had the test, and immediately following the test, all "you know what" broke loose again. No hemmoraging or collitis (or whatever term I should be using) recurred.

    I am having issues now that I am having trouble with and I wonder if anyone can offer me some suggestions or if anyone thinks that any of these symptoms can be helped or addressed in some way.

    Symptoms: My stools are often sticky and difficult to pass. It sometimes feels like I am pooping around a corner. I read someone else mentioning toilet acrobatics. That has happened! Other times, it feels as if my stools come to a dead end like in a pac-man game and there is no way to say "hey - turn the corner!!" When my stools are more formed (15% of the time), they are a slightly plumped ribbon shape with one edge being wider than the other. Otherwise, stools are clumps of this sticky consistency, and they don't even fall into the bowl on their own. I'm constantly watching my diet in an effort to produce an acceptable stool. I very often have the feeling that the stool is at the rectum door but it just doesn't come out. Like in the shoot waiting for the gate to lift. There is alot of pressure when this happens. Just holding stool in your anus because it doesn't come out can be very uncomfortable. When it does come out, it requires extra pushing and at times I have pressed on the outer vicinity of the anus to encourage a release. I'm very sensitive to acidic foods..... citrus, vinegar, white wine, cometimes coffee. These kinds of foods give me diarrhea and it is often times without warning and can produce water just passing through the rectum-even seems to by-pass the stoo all togetherl. I carry a spare pair of undies for peace of mind - and yes, I've had to use them! I've modified my diet to the best of my ability to combat things. For instance, I don't eat pork, red meat, soda pop, artificial sweetners. I'm constantly listening to the news and heeding this weeks advice on nutrition dangers. I frequently have gas which can be not only audible, but fragrantly offensive to both myself and those around me. It happens no matter what I eat. I've tried taking digestive enzymes, probiotics, even BeanO to aid in the digestion process. I sometimes wonder if I have a recurring sort of abcess inside somewhere. Like maybe I have a tendency or am prone to it since I've had one before. The majority of the time my behind feels like I've tried to pass ground glass or it feels as if I've got a knife stuck in my rectum. Warm baths are a gift of relief. Similar to your cotton squares, I often have to place a couple sheets of toilet tissue between my cheeks for leakage. The chaffing can be downright painful. I use an ointment sometimes with lidocaine when the pain is over the top and I can't take it anymore. I don't take pain relievers in pill form and I try my best not to ingest chemicals if at all possible. My preference when possible is to use natural remedies. I eat cereal with fortified flax in the morning in an attempt to keep things moving along. The rest of my diet I try to vary, within my trial and error experience and attempt to be normal. Most times the described above situation is chronic in one way or another. Further, I don't believe my colon is capable of removing the correct amount of liquid or moisture for the proper balance necessary to produce a comfortable BM. I'd love to know how to correct this, if it's possible.

    I've heard some believe CT Scan preparations themselves can be the actual cause for cancer. I could believe it and it frankly scares the hell outta me. I'm not running for one of those for a good long time.

    Well, I know Im babbling and fall into that TMI category. I don't know what else to say, but I am wondering if anyone out there can identify with any of what I describe and has any suggestion or comment.

    Thanks in advance for any responses.

    Best wishes to all readers and posters,


    Last edited by Julesss; 01-18-2008 at 12:33 AM. Reason: typo, rewording, editing

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    Old 01-18-2008, 02:40 PM   #2
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    Re: Rectal Cancer Survivor, resection July 2004; bowel symptoms today

    . I'm constantly watching my diet in an effort to produce an acceptable stool. LOL This made me laugh! I wonder how many of us are out there that look into the toilet to "rate" our stool. Sorry I have no advice for you, but thanks for making me smile.

    Old 01-20-2008, 06:48 AM   #3
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    Exclamation Re: Rectal Cancer Survivor, resection July 2004; bowel symptoms today

    Thanks for your thoughts froggy. Honestly, I don't care much what it looks like once it gets to the bowl........... its the passage that concerns me. Anyhow, we need to find humor in life and life experiences, so I'm glad you found some humor in my post.

    For anyone else out there reading, I'd be interested in hearing about any similar experience you may have had similar to mine. Which wouldn't necessarily include someone finding humor in an otherwise real and serious issue.

    Best to all,

    Old 02-21-2008, 11:21 PM   #4
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    Re: Rectal Cancer Survivor, resection July 2004; bowel symptoms today

    Hi...have they done an internal check, both vaginal and rectal to see if you have a prolapse? That can cause stools to get stuck, and cause alot of pressure.

    Also, for the discomfort rectally, try "witch hazel" on gauze packs. It is cooling, healing and feels amazing. Hope it helps. You can get this at a local drugstore.

    I'm curious...what were your symptoms prior to your diagnosis of cancer? It seems that with anything abdominal it mimics so many things for women that it is confusing to know "what" exactly is going on. Did you have any blood in stools? Pain on evacuation?

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