After my operation back in March one of the tests to get out of hospital was to pass a ‘good motion’ via my new stiched-up colon. I lost the part of the colon which adds and subtracts water and juices so that i now need to eat sloppy food all the time, and avoid fibre, skins, seeds and raw food (which is challenging as i have always been a hard core muesli bean-eating girl). I was eating the ‘low residue’ diet supplied by the hospital but had not yet been officially told what i could and could not eat and Fran, Tom and my sister Mary were bringing me in food that later we found out was totally inappropriate!
I managed a ‘good stool’ in record time after walking the corridors with a zimmer at the doctor’s advice to ‘get your innards back in the right place and get the whole system moving’. We were so pleaed my sister took a photo of it lying in the hospital loo on her I-Phone and sent it to my three children and to me (I have it stored in my old nokia!) Kids were shocked! Mum’s poo in the loo! Doctors were impressed and i got out of hospital after a bit of haggling in record time.
I tell this story as day 3-4 of each cycle of life infusion, after anti-nausea pills and steroids before treatment, and then afterwards 3 times a day for first 3 days, plus the additional heavy chemo pills, I get in crippling constipation on the eve of the third day. This has happened to me erch cycle. They do warn you. For some patients the opposite happens and they cannot move far from a toilet at all.
I forgot and last middle of the night got stuck on the loo for hours. It reminded me of when Rachel was a baby and I was a doing my MPhil in Latin American Studies at Oxford (the first in my college to have a baby while doing it which certainly put the cat among the pigeons!). We had been lucky enough to get a large flat in the old part of Summertown House graduate students flats. I had acute tonsilititis and the pain killers made me constipated. The loo in our flat was not working for some reason and i left Rachel sleeping and nipped to the loo in another flat acorss the square that i had been given a key too and oh dear I got stuck there for ages and worried about Rachel waking in her cot and my not being there and wished I had a teaspoon to help the process…
Last night i took one then later another sachet of a fast acting anti-constipation powder, which took about 5 hours to work. Owch!! lots of cream folks. If this is too close for comfort i tell the story as it is one if the more painful side effects as i have a small haemaroid which must be getting bigger each cycle!
Colon and colo-rectal suyrgery is all about effective pooing and peeing which is like going back to childhood. After surgery ward you poo and pee in the ward loo into special eco boxes which the nurses take away weaing special coloured gloves to weight. They come back and congratulate you and write the ersults on your records! It is very humbling to be on one of those wards: the staff are excellent and friendly and never make you feel embarrassed: the opposite. There are many people there young and old who live with colostomy bags and inner bags that have been created for them out of parts of their innards, and who have have crisis from time to time and have to come in and hope to get it all sorted which can be very touch and go, very emotional and very painful. The camaraderie when i was there was heartening and certainly helped me through the shock of finding myself suddenly on a surgical ward.