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.

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