Reversed, Revisited

Yesterday was the final step in my treatment; reversing my ileostomy.

I was admitted to the Spire around 5:30pm, and after L. and I had seen my surgeon and talked through the surgery and it’s possible complications, and then seen the anesthetist, we were already “late” for the 6:30pm theatre appointment. So it was a matter of a quick change into my surgical gown, dressing gown and slippers, before a quick goodbye to L. and walking upstairs to the operating theatre. Once there we went through the usual name & date of birth identification routine, taped up my wedding ring, and I climbed up onto the table and let the anesthetist cannularise me. He then gave me a pre-med and some anti-emetics before putting me under.

Surgery started at 7:28pm, and ended with me being moved to the recovery room at 10:40pm where I came around in “my” bed. I vaguely remember talking to the anesthetist for a while, before being wheeled back to my room where L. was waiting for me. She’d already talked to my surgeon, and she passed on all the information to me, though I was so tired and light-headed that I’m not sure how much I actually took in. I do remember her leaving, but nothing else until I woke up at about 2am, feeling uncomfortable and wanting to get out of bed and move around.

One of the nurses helped me out of bed, and got me some painkillers to take the edge off my pain. By which time I was fully awake, so I ended up posting my last blog update, and reading for a couple of hours before going back to bed. Fortunately I woke up again early enough that I could call home and talk to my kids and let them know I was OK before they caught the bus into school.

Since then I’ve seen both my surgeon and anesthetist, who are both happy with my progress. The surgery took longer than expected because there were complications with the removal of the stoma; essentially it had healed more securely to the surrounding tissues than normal, and required a lot more dissection to remove it. As a result I’ve got an additional side incision away from the normal circular incision, which will leave me with something like a tennis racquet shaped scar. The ends of the bowel also needed to be cut back to remove the sections that had become congested with fluid before they could be rejoined. My hernia was also fixed at the same time, though not optimally. In an ideal world a hernia repair uses a surgical mesh to strengthen the abdomen wall, but unfortunately this was not possible because of the possibility of contamination of the wound from the bowel repair; that necessitated an open drain from the wound which the mesh would have prevented. So instead the hernia was repaired with more extensive stitching of the abdomen wall, but unfortunately in some 10% of cases these repairs re-herniate – which would be annoying.

Today has been spent slowly recovering, dozing between small meals of yoghurt and soup, allowing my colon to slowly restart. I also had my dressings changed for the first time, swapping the initial large pressure dressings that had been applied in the operating theatre with a single, smaller, more manageable dressing. This turned out to be really straightforward, except where one of the dressings appeared to have stuck to a stitch, and was excruciatingly painful to remove. Hopefully that will be a one-off experience, with future changes of dressing being painless.

So now it’s simply a matter of waiting for nature to take it’s course; my surgeon tells me that normally takes a couple of days, so hopefully I’m still on track to be discharged on Friday, or possibly Saturday.

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