- Diseases, Disorders & Conditions
Recovery After Bowel Surgery
After bowel surgery and when the effects of anesthesia wear off, you’ll notice there’s a heavy feeling around your abdomen. You will feel a great amount of pain, a feeling of tightness, and of course, you will feel extreme weakness.
You will be given pain relievers intravenously and this will help in reducing pain to the barest minimum.
You’ll discover later on (within 24 hours) that a bag is attached to your abdomen and its position is determined by the type of procedure you’ve had done . . . ascending, a transverse, or descending colostomy.
Depending on each patient’s condition; if bowel surgery was carried out due to trauma or in an emergency, the Doctor will carefully counsel by explaining the current situation and what to expect.
On the other hand, if the procedure is expected (due to illness for instance), the patient will be in the know before surgery.
What to Expect Immediately After Surgery
For the first few days, you won’t be able to stand up on your own so you can’t even take a shower. You’ll have to be towel-washed by the nurses in a supine position and you will have to contend with much discomfort at this time.
Initially, your stoma will not function and because you haven’t started to eat solid foods, you won’t pass out waste through the stoma. A post bowel surgery patient is not allowed to eat any food or drink anything until the stoma starts to function. When it starts to function varies from one patient to another but in my case, it took about a week.
Peristalsis must be confirmed through auscultation (listening to sounds with a stethoscope) of the patient's stomach for intestinal movements.
When intestinal movement is ascertained, your first ‘foods’ will be clear liquids. This diet of sorts will then progresses to softer foods like clear broths.
A couple of days after bowel surgery, if conditions are favourable, you will be encouraged to sit up in bed. But you will have to be lifted up as you can’t do this simple task on your own.
Soon after, depending on your strength and willpower, they will make you try to stand on your own and subsequently made to take a few steps, aided by a nurse.
Apparently, it is very important to start this early as it encourages early healing and faster recovery.
On the Road to Recovery - Part 1
How Long Does it Take to Recover?
It usually takes between two to six weeks to fully recover after bowel surgery but the exact time depends on the type of operation they performed on you.
It also depends on whether you have other medical conditions, your determination, and your 'attitude' on recovery, and whether or not you have post-surgery complications.
Post-Surgery Operatives and Monitoring
After surgery, you will be checked and observed constantly for any sign or symptom of complications. Patients are always closely monitored for signs of infection which may indicate an internal leak of waste into the abdomen.
Tests will also be carried out to ensure that your recovery is normal and acceptable. These tests will include Hgt and HGB blood levels and white blood cell counts.
There will be very frequent checks for vital signs too.
You will be encouraged to cough lightly without putting stress on your waist/abdomen, move around every so often (very important), and take deep breaths frequently. These activities help a long way in preventing complications from setting in.
There may be bleeding tendencies from your stoma which will be evident when you start to change your colostomy bag but it will be monitored. Any sign of increased bleeding will be investigated and promptly treated.
Most colostomy patients concern at this time is to know that their stoma is working. You will become just as anxious as the doctor and nurses to see waste moving out through your stoma. And once this hurdle has been crossed, it’s a great step towards your full recovery.
Now is the time you’ll be tutored concerning care and management of your ostomy.
On the Road to Recovery - Part 2
Recovering at Home after a Colostomy
For the first couple of weeks after your discharge from the hospital, you will get home visits from your Stoma Nurse who will always be there for you. He or she will dress your wounds; continue to tutor you on how to use your ostomy bags and other stoma supplies.
There will also be advice on how to live with a stoma whether your ostomy is temporary or permanently.
Accepting your condition is the first bold step towards your full recovery and it will help you better if you accept your condition as a challenge.
Millions of bowel surgery patients all over the world manage their stomas well and so can you. Think about it this way, with your recent surgery, you have been offered a new lease on life.
There is no reason why you can't live a wonderful fun filled life even with an ostomy. Once you have passed the acceptance stage and have become adept at stoma management, it is now a new beginning.
© 2010 AloBeDa