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Cancer: Colon Message Board

Cancer: Colon Board Index


A month ago I was a newbie to this board but today I feel like a veteran! :) Three weeks ago today I was being operated on for a tumor in my colon. Today I am at home recovering and feeling better everyday. I started my day this morning with a mile and a half walk!

I wanted to share my experience with those of you that may be facing this type of surgery. A little background; initially it was thought that I had diverticulitis and I was treated for that with antibiotics. When I didn't feel any relief, I demanded a CT Scan that showed intussusception of my colon which then prompted a full colonoscopy that revealed my tumor. (My advice here: Trust your body and your instincts. My doctor wasn't listening and I made him listen.)

The tumor was about 3cm in size and my surgeon advised me that I would have to have a resection. I have never had major surgery before and I was very scared! I spent the weeks leading up to surgery doing guided imagery and affirmations which really helped my stress level.

I remember very little after being wheeled in the operating room. Literally, it seems as if I went to sleep as soon as I was in! My surgery took a little over an hour and I was in my hospital room recovering by noon. The tumor and about a foot of my colon was removed.

The first day was a bit of a blur as I had a PCA morphine pump for the pain. I slept and tried to get comfortable on my back since I'm not used to sleeping in that position. I had a catheter for the first couple of days but I hardly noticed it since I tried to sleep as much as possible. My pain was very manageable with the PCA pump. The day after surgery I was sitting up and talking, emailing, and trying to get used to the incision in my belly. I was able to have the surgery done laparoscopically; one incision about 2 inches long above my waist and two other small incisions below.

Within the next couple days, I tried to walk as much as possible (and the nurses aides will try to make you walk). This was the best thing for me even though I didn't feel like it. It felt strange to walk with the incision and dragging an IV. I felt like I was stooped over and it was hard to stand straight. I was weak but I made myself do it. It is important to your recovery to walk! I was told the sooner I walked, the faster the plumbing would start to work and the sooner I could go home.

I received all my fluids and nutrients via IV until the last day I was in the hospital when I had a little broth and jello. I didn't miss food in the least! Maybe it was the morphine but being hungry was certainly not an issue. What was an issue the last few days was that I had to get up and go to the bathroom about every hour since the fluids seemed be going right through me and I no longer had the catheter. In hindsight, this might have been good since it made me walk even more.

My biggest complaint in the hospital was interruption of sleep! My hospital didn't have private rooms so I had a parade of roommates (four total) and their visitors over the course of five days. My advice - get earplugs or headphones! I had one roommate that watched TV all night and refused to turn the volume down or off! Thank goodness I had headphones and she was moved the next morning! If I heard one more episode of Judge Judy - I think I would have gone crazy! ;)

The nurses will also come in and check your vitals every few hours so that also alters your sleep. Soon enough though, you'll get into the routine. I soon discovered my favorite nurses and aides and they were wonderful answering my questions, helping me walk, and easing any discomfort I might have. God bless all the nurses and aids out there!

I was discharged on a Friday afternoon but had the option to stay another day or two if I wanted. I choose to go home because I felt that I had good care there (my husband) and I really wanted to sleep! I was sent home with pain pills that I took every four hours that really managed the pain, too. I slept hard for the first few days and was uncomfortable but glad to be home. I stayed mostly in the bedroom but walked around the house for exercise. The first week home was the hardest. Learning to get in and out of bed; waking up to take pain meds and learning to eat again. I really restricted my activity and stayed mostly in bed or in a chair.

I had no diet restrictions but found out quickly that I could only eat very low residual foods and only small amounts. I felt very bloated and sore. I ate mostly broth, jello, and bland foods. Mini-meals every few hours seem to work best. It was only the beginning of week #3 that I started introducing more food and fiber and I'm doing it very slowly. I'm also drinking lots of water. The 'plumbing' is working just fine and the bloating has decreased alot.

My incision is healing well and although I was afraid to look at it at first, I'm amazed at how my body is coming back together. Sometimes I feel a twinge of discomfort in my side but there is no pain.

I remember thinking when I was in the hospital that I just wished it was 3 weeks in the future. Well, here it is 3 weeks later and I wanted everyone to know there is a light at the end of this tunnel. You will feel better and you will heal. There will be days that it doesn't feel that way but it takes time. Just be good to yourself! Don't push it!

My story tumor was malignant and a very, very rare cancer and I will have a PT Scan this week to see if there are any other tumors. I haven't given up hope yet and continue to pray, meditate and use my guided imagery. At the moment pending the PT Scan, I don't need chemo or radiation. I'm trying to build my strength back up and enjoy the blessing of each day.

More than anything, I wanted to write this to let others know what to expect when they are facing colon resection. Please know that you are not alone in this type of surgery. Follow the doctor's orders and as soon as you can, get up and walk - you won't feel like it but everyday you will feel better and better. Each week you will get stronger and stronger. Try some guided imagery and affirmations. They truly helped my stress level and brought me much comfort.

I wish you all well on your healing journey!


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