WAS THE J-POUCH SURGERY SUCCESSFUL?

Yes! Successful J-Pouch Surgery!

Matt & I are celebrating many things:

– Successful j-pouch surgery!

– Successful bowel movements!

– Shedding of all bags and tubes!

– Early discharge from the hospital!

I am outta here!

Good bye $500 per night room (which we got bumped to for free).

Good bye all-white hospital meals (which you look forward to when you’re hungry and weak).

Good bye lovely nurses who take vitals every 6 hours.

Good bye beds that heave and machines that go beep during the night.

Hospital-food-white

White hospital food

My blessings to all who continue to fight for their lives and are forever entrenched in the medical system. At the hospital I met and saw many, and am familiar with lonely and dreary days when you don’t know when you will go home.

Upon leaving the building, I will be on track to an active, low-stress lifestyle.

TWO BAGS DOWN, ONE TO GO

Two bags down:

Ileostomy bag – removed at surgery. Urine bag came with the surgery – removed this morning. One last bag, the IV, should be gone by Saturday. J-pouch (new rectum) – soon to come online.

I’m here at the hospital and recovering in peace and comfort. I was upgraded to a first class suite because the oncology ward was full. Nicer colors, nicer art, quiet and peaceful. The liquid diet so far is settling, and I should expect my lower bowels to be working by later today or tomorrow. The only question with that happening is if a blockage develops in the intestines at the new seam. So far, no sign. Yippee!

creamy_mush_liquid_diet

Creamy mush

Much better than last time, this procedure was far less invasive, only dealing with turning the ileostomy back in and reattaching it to the lower intestine, all done laparoscopically (through a little tiny hole in the abdomen). The whole procedure went smoothly. There were a few bouts of nausea and some pain until the medications were balanced, and now feel quite energetic. I’m on to “full liquids”, meaning creamy stuff and mush.

What do they put in this stuff? It’s not the creamy mush my mom used to make.

Back pain of the previous few days has subsided, yet turned into back discomfort from lying in bed for too long. I’ll take it, the discomfort is better than the pain was! Compression socks inflate around my legs every few seconds to keep my blood vessels from clotting, and I exercise my lungs with one of these:

spirometer_inhale_exercises

Spirometer

The incentive spirometer is assigned to exercise the lungs after a patient wakes up from anesthesia. The lungs have a tendency to fill with fluid, then develop bacteria which causes pneumonia if they are not exercised. I use this crazy-looking device every hour by inhaling air from the tube.

So, the update for the first day is: doing good!!!

Looking forward to shedding the last ‘bag’ (IV) and to using the new ‘j-pouch’ (new rectum)!

post_op_recovery

Hello everybody!

EXAM: J-POUCH FITNESS

Next test to pass: J-pouch Fitness

Matt & I left this morning for an imaging appointment at the hospital. Today we anticipated a test of the fitness of my j-pouch, ie, newly created rectum, over one month since surgery. Assuming all goes well, the surgery on Wednesday will reverse my ileostomy and reconnect my lower plumbing.

j-pouch-drawing

j-pouch, new rectum

I began fasting after dinner last night. I was a little frustrated at the tardy message on my cell phone this morning from the imaging office telling me that I must fast AND do a “prep kit” — was I told about any prep kit? No, no instruction on that! Fortunately, when I called the office they permitted the exam anyway. Thank goodness, because Matt & I had already driven half way there. (Later, I learned that this prep kit was only an at-home enema – and what’s that going to do? I haven’t been using that part of my body for six weeks. There’s nothing in there. Note: do your homework, people, when it comes to medical care some things asked of you are just unnecessary. And sometimes not enough, so a patient has to really be ‘on’.)

I digress… I checked in at the hospital for the the X ray. Results for this contrast exam will tell me how I healed from the last surgery, specifically how the j-pouch healed, whether there are leaks or breaches.

gastrografin-contrast-xray

Contrast X ray

This one is an enema of  gastrografin, a solution that gets injected into my rectum through a tube with a balloon at the end of it. The balloon keeps the tube in place, and the solution floods my GI system, and shows any leaks or breaches in the surgical seams.

The good news came as I was watching real-time my skeleton and intestines/colon on a TV screen. The imaging tech said, “Nope, no leaks. Everything looks fine”. The assistant tech, named Fabio (I kid you not) began undoing the tubes.

“Ok,” Fabio said, “Here are some fresh robes, a stack of towels and your clothes. When you get up, some people drip down their legs, so use these towels when you walk over to the restroom.” (I had my own private bathroom for an hour).

“How long does it take for this stuff to come out?” I asked, wondering how long I would be sitting on the toilet.

“Oh it varies for people,” he replied. Of course it does. “You can stay in the restroom if you want, or go into the dressing room”. Ok…

What he didn’t tell me, that I didn’t know, is that it doesn’t all come out right away. When it stops draining, there will be more. I got as much out as I thought I could, got dressed, and said goodbye to Fabio. I walked out to the lobby and called Matt to pick me up.

THEN the cramping started. I knew there was a restroom near the lobby. I ran in there, thank goodness no line!! Some more draining. I finished and moved back to the lobby. More cramping… back to the restroom, no line. Again, back to the lobby. Cramping, restroom – this time I couldn’t make it and leaked in my pants. I cursed Fabio the whole time for not educating me… Argh! By the time Matt got there with the car, I was crying from frustration, discomfort and concern that I would leak in the car. But the urgency had dissipated. Still I was evacuating liquid all day, although less and less.

With the news of the healed surgery, I will soon exchange a bag for a pouch, or an ostomy for a j-pouch.

And with that, a mix of relief and anxiety over how the j-pouch, ie. brand new rectum, will work for me.

fabio

Fabio

DAY 10 – HAPPY DISCHARGE DAY!

It’s Discharge Day!pain_scale_faces

Today is the day Matt & I make a break for freedom!

No tubes

No tags

No required measurements

No cancer

A happy stoma

It’s all about peace & quiet of the mountain in Malibu now. Back to routine, back to healing, back to cooking and eating and freedom.

We’ll be back here at the hospital (I’m sure they’ll have a name plaque on the wall for us by then, ha ha) in July for the ‘reversal’ where I will have the intestines reattached and everything put back together. Then we test the new J-pouch system the Dr. Childs created for me. This procedure will call for a few days in the hospital (trying not to think of Gilligan’s 3 hour tour).

Both Matt & I are in good spirits. We celebrated the final evening watching episodes of Portlandia and Jon Stewart, eating and drinking merrily and BS-ing with the nurses. They’ll miss us when we’re gone. For a few minutes.

cancer_pre_surgery

Before

eating_post_second_surgery

After

Matt is so impressed by my new stoma he wants to make a video and put it on YouTube. He’s a funny bastard, people.

If he does, we’ll post it here first!

10 DAY COUNTDOWN + ALTERNATIVE TREATMENT

1 1/2 weeks to surgery day, and I’ve found a new alternative treatment

Tomorrow morning Matt & I meet with the surgeon who will be performing my procedure, Dr. Childs. I will be examined to see how effective the preparation treatments were (ie. how fried that MF is), discuss surgical prep, and then we’ll discuss all Matt’s and my questions, like when can I start drinking again, will they provide enough painkillers to share with Matt, and so on.

Also today, I met by phone with a naturopathic medical doctor recommended to me regarding a brand new alternative therapy. Credentials seem to be good, as do her associates and alliances, and she is very excited about this therapy. This is taken as oral capsules and is derived from capsaicin (the hot element of chili peppers) and green tea. Many questions by both Matt & I were all answered. It is purported to be a stand-alone treatment. So I’m back to researching and questioning what I’ve already decided! Does it ever end!!!! No. It does not. The field is continually moving forward. Here is another example, a TED Talk video which Matt & I stumbled on last week.

Wednesday I will attend a webinar about managing colorectal cancer symptoms and treatments. Then next Wednesday, May 23rd is D Day, I go under the knife.

I often think to myself: “Thank goodness for a good, loving partner to be with me on this journey.”

Being ultra-aware of the 10 day countdown, I’m upping my diet of green tea, pepper, fresh veggies, and exercise.

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