Sunday, July 29, 2007

Time Pases

It is now more that 28 weeks since surgery. From a health standpoint I feel fine. I believe my body is still adjusting to the new situation and psychologically I am still a little fragile. Last week I had a good week, all week. I felt well, I had my episodes having bowel movements and that is aggravating, but I really felt good. Until Saturday. Saturday my wife and I had one of our daughters and her new "main man" over for dinner. I had felt uneasy all day, I was going a lot and had that discomfort associated with many BM's. However, it still was a good day. I had forgotten to take Citrucel Friday night so I took a dose Saturday morning.

After dinner and everyone had left with the exception of one granddaughter who was spending the night I took the regular dose of Citrucel. However, I had started feeling bloated about an hour before. I did eat a lot of tomatoes, pickles and drank a lot of coffee. Plus, I had not taken my usual three or four bottles of water during the day. After the granddaughter and my wife went over to the trailer I spent a little time playing solitaire on the computer and mentally letting the day come down. I started feeling worse, pain in my stomach area. Not down low in the bowel region but up higher just above my belly button. I thought it was gas so I took some baking soda in water and belched a few times. The pain got worse, it was really uncomfortable, but I thought once I lie down it'll be OK. Well it wasn't. To make a long story short I was up until 3:30 AM with stomach cramps. It was not the abdominal muscles that were cramping but the stomach. I started to think I hurt myself, a ulcer had eaten a hole in my stomach and caused a blood line to break, I don't know but when I am all alone at night my mind can get pretty dark.

At 3:30 AM I came downstairs, got on WEB MD and checked out the symptoms. Well hell, I had symptoms of about 20 ailments. I figured if the symptoms are so generalized then it probably isn't serious. I got a bottle of water, sipped it and played some more solitaire as I contemplated waking my wife up and suggesting she take me to the emergency room cause I was in trouble. Well, as I sipped the water the symptoms cleared up. I felt discomfort from the area for a while, but the symptoms left and I went to bed. Unfortunately Sunday has been lethargic. I feel like I've been drug through a knot hole, but the cramping is gone. Apparently I didn't drink enough water, maybe the extra load of Citrucel, and the acid in the food all conspired to give me a rough time. What ever the reason today I feel OK, just tired.

One of the problems I encounter when anything like that happens is I get melancholy. I realize how much my wife means to me, I know we are getting older and in the next ten years or so will enter the golden years of our lives. I guess because of her diabetes we both assume she will go first, yet I am older, by six years. I can't bear the thought of having to go through life without her. My wife is not what you would call a sentimental nurturing person, but she is fiercely loyal. She believes she can overcome and works hard around the house taking care of things. Everything is just better with her! Oh well, enough already. It was a good week capped by a troublesome few days. Next week has the opportunity of being better.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Strange Thoughts

I have a strange sense of humor, my friends tell me that, my children tell me that, my wife tells me that. I find humor in minor events and major events. Oh, not everything is humorous, I don't make light of cruel or tragic events or situations. Where if find my humor though is in strange places, I wonder about things a lot.

Now that I am fairly well along on the road to recovery from bowel resection my mind turns to the little niggly things that plague me still. For example, having a bowel movement is not the ho hum event it was seven months ago. My system is still rebelling at the incursion the surgeon made into my lower abdomen. As a result I end up sitting on the commode feeling like I have to go and not going. Sometimes if I strain mightily I will have some results but the surgeon has warned about herniating or rupturing the resection seam so I have to try an stop from doing that. Often if I strain the results are not very complete, I still have the feeling there is more to come, or I haven't finished the movement yet. I feel like an unsuccessful composer developing a symphony, I haven't finished all the movements yet. That is where I have come up with the idea of a bowel movement has turned into a symphony for me, it is made up of many movements.

I have discovered other things. The NST (No Seeum Turd) Apparently the stool is now so aerodynamically shaped that it shoots through the water goes down the trap and out of site so fast that if I life my behind to see if my contribution to the commode nary a ripple remains on the water. It was like I never went, yet I know I did, but where then are the results. NST's!

Often I have to sit on the stool a long time, waiting. This is not good for idle minds that are full of mischief as is my mind. Soon I start to contemplate, is the stool tapered on the front end or the back end? There is that old childhood joke of do you know why a turd is tapered? No, why? To keep your asshole from slamming shut. So I wonder, what kind of noise would that be? If the stool is crowding to get out, in other words, packing itself into position for its exit then it seems to me that the nose end would be blunt and the back end tapered as it hopefully eases away from the rectal area. So, if the stool has a jagged or broken off appearance does that mean that I had an incomplete movement and some remaining stool enjoys plaguing me with that unfinished feeling?

I recall years ago there was a fascination in the U.S. with "floaters" and "sinkers." I have heard some very humorous presentations on that topic. Supposedly if you have a "floater" you have a balanced diet and the digestive tract is working well. If you pass a "sinker" you have too much protein or something that causes it to sink. Hell, I have both, sometimes in the same symphony. However, I have noticed since recovery has been under way that the percentage of floaters to sinkers is improving. I guess that is a good sign.

Apparently there is a tensile strength issue too. Once and a while I have a stool that seems endless. I feel relief and would like to see such a prodigious effort. That is when I am frustrated by the NST syndrome, see above, and it is gone, Or, perhaps a tail lurks in the trap giving me a hint of length but not knowing is frustrating. Other times I have it break in the middle and obviously there is a compaction issue that reduces the tensile strength so that it cannot support it descent. This is OK. The ones that are frustrating are when they break and the rest will not come out. That is when you are left with the feeling of having to go, but cannot. I call this the "hang fire" problem. A "hang fire" in an artillery piece is when the primer does not fire and you are left wondering is there is some smoldering explosion waiting to blow up in your face should you open the breech. Well, its kind of the same thing, you feel incomplete, it hurts or aches, and you are left cleaning yourself, pulling up your britches and walking away with that feeling in your butt. Sometimes the feeling goes away and everything is OK for a while, other times you just get set to continue whatever other activity you were involved in when the rest of the stool says OK, NOW!

Well, that is what is on my mind this week. Humor is everywhere, you just have to look for it.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Six Months

It is now a little more than six months since surgery. Time passed quickly, although from day to day you were not aware of that passage. I have no pain from the surgery, and I haven't had for some time. However, my system is still adjusting to the new situation. I seem to go a little a lot in the case of a bowel movement. I still run into that feeling of having gone and not completed the transaction which leaves one with an urge to sit on the commode and go some more. I have learned to trust my body to some degree and ignore that urge and go one about my business, the old body will tell me if I really have to go some more.

I had a Dr.'s visit last week to finalize the six month check up. He was satisfied with everything, I described my on going saga of BM's and nothing I said alarmed him. The Doctor did make the suggestion that I take a glass of Citrucel once a day. I have started that new regime and it does seem to have had some impact already. I have a little more ease in going and the stool comes without the strain I was encountering.

I do feel a lot better. I have dropped about 50 pounds and my blood pressure is in the normal range, my glucose level seems to be under control so there are some real benefits because of the surgery. It is a shame that it takes such a catastrophic event to get us to change our ways. This is the best I've felt in probably 10 to 15 years.

I still get some pain in the lower muscles when I urinate or have a BM. I also find myself sitting on the commode when I simply have to pee, but that is because I have been surprised a couple of times and had to change my underwear. I find it safer to sit. I do not know if that will change, but I do know that if where I am at does not get any better I can live with the current situation.

When I eat I do seem to get gas right away and find myself in the position of having to raise my butt of the chair to release the gas. That makes it seem obvious and I don't like that. Plus, I do not have good control of when gas may be expelled so it can be a little embarrassing. It does remind me not to eat too much and try to keep the Southern wind down a little.

My stamina is not back where I would like it, and I do get tired at the end of the day. I have not been napping very often, occasionally I do, but for the most part I don't seem to require a nap in the afternoon. When I am working around the house I have to remind myself to slow down, stop and take a break on the porch and drink a bottle of water. I consider those things good however, and don't find the breaks objectionable. I also find myself debating whether the fatigue I feel in the evening is part of recovery or part of old age, I am 62. My mind says so what, my body seems to say "give it a rest."

If anyone is reading this blog, there is life after surgery. I do not expect a occurrence of the cancer. The Doctor and I talked about a follow-up colonoscopy in November of this year. At this point all signs point to good golden years. I pray for good results for every person who undergoes bowel resection surgery for whatever reason. I hope my thoughts have helped someone.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Get in contact

There were several persons who sent me an email in the last month asking for some more information or just comments. If anyone who had previously asked a question would care to resend their email I would appreciate it. I am unaccustomed to using MS Outlook as my mail tool, I've used Outlook Express for several years. In the process of reducing my email files I inadvertently delete some comments concerning this blog. I would be more than happy to share what information I can provide. I just don't know where to provide it.



Thursday, July 12, 2007

More on recovery

I keep struggling with writing this. My language tends to be somewhat profane and earthy, but writing about recovery from bowel resection just seems different. I have had one person respond to my earlier blog and seemed to appreciate the information. I guess I'll keep it up, there just does not seem to be much information out there about recovery outside of the hospital from bowel resection surgery.

It is now mid-July, I have passed six-months since surgery. I will have to say I am still recovering. My wife and I took a trip back to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, my home, which meant driving about 900 miles one way. It was tough and took quite a bit out of me. The constant pounding on the road caused me to feel like I had to have a bowel movement, for much of the trip. It wasn't real bad, obviously I tolerated it, but I've made that drive before without the fatigue and uncomfortable feeling. I found sitting on the seat I could not pass gas, I had to raise up and then sometimes I had the feeling that more than gas wanted to come out, even though I did not have any accidents.

When we stopped to eat I felt bloated when I climbed back into the van and was just uncomfortable. There wasn't any real pain, although I do find that when I begin to have a bowel movement I get this deep ache in my lower region. It is a signal that events are going to occur. When I actually do have a bowel movement the muscles must still be somewhat distressed. I will get some pain around the anal region and for a while after if I urinate that pain will surface. The surgeon characterized the pain as "exquisite" and it is pretty accurate.

Much of the days I still feel a little uncomfortable in my lower abdominal area. I would not characterize it as pain, it feels bloated and just a little off. Many times my stomach feels slightly upset, not nausea but I guess I would call it nervous. My dad used to have a word that may be fairly descriptive, he would sometime refer to his stomach is "ishy."

This week I have been back at work. We arrived back in AR from MI on Sunday, I was up at 4:00 AM to go to a client plant in a nearby city to conduct team training so I have not really had an opportunity to rest. My system has behaved, however yesterday at our business office I did have what I have come to call my "episode." This is where I have a bowel movement, but it is like a symphony, it has several movements. I will go, then a short period of time later I will feel that familiar ache and have to go some more. I even have the experience that when I have a BM and am cleaning myself the wiping action seems to stimulate the muscles and I will have another BM right then. This is all very abnormal for me and a little frustrating and disconcerting.

Progress is being realized though. Whenever I would go (BM) several times in a short period of time I would have some "exquisite" pain and even some bleeding from tissue being torn. The bleeding seems to have stopped, at least for about a month now, and I don't get that real "exquisite" pain. However, there are times that I feel like I have not completely voided and have that sensation of a "hang fire." In other words there is a stool hung up close to the trap door and wants to come out but can't. Not a really comfortable feeling when you are in a meeting with clients or conducting training.

I have also noticed that in general my system is more sensitive to fatigue. I used to associate being tired with yawning, now I get tired but not sleepy. One day in MI my daughters, grand-daughter, wife and I went on a picnic to this very beautiful beach on Lake Superior. I went swimming in the lake, we played around on the beach, then spent several delightful hours roasting hot dogs, eating chips and drinking beer (mine is non-alcoholic) and taking pictures of one and other. The next day I did not feel good, my stomach seemed upset, I was fatigued and had low energy. I really felt kind of ill. We napped in the afternoon and that feeling passed, so I guess I had just overdone it at the beach. I think that after six months I would have a higher level of stamina, however I have talked to some other people that have told me they thought it was over a year before they felt the had their old stamina back. The watchword is, "take it easy."

Well, that is all for now. I have knocked off about 50 pounds since surgery, I have almost been able to eliminate my diabetes medication and probably will get off it completely this month. I have reduced my blood pressure meds, and am getting the cholesterol medication in my sights to reduce that. I feel much more limber, I move better, I generally feel like I am in better health than I have been for the last ten to fifteen years. It is a shame it takes such a life changing event to shake us up, but we know we don't change unless we are driven to by some type of pain. There is a positive side to this, I am grateful the cancer was found as early as it was, I have an excellent prognosis, I have lost weight, and life is good. I still, mentally, have my anxious moments but they are lessening. I believe in a month I will have more good news to report. I go to see the surgeon next week for the final follow-up. I will describe the ongoing bowel episodes to him, but at this point I just think it is all related to recover.

Hope this helps.