Reversal recovery (part viii)

It’s been just over 6 weeks since I had my ileostomy takedown operation, and progress continues to be mixed.

On the one hand, the surgical side of things has gone extremely well, with the wound where my stoma used to be healing staggeringly well. The wound has completely closed, filled in with new skin and scar tissue, and scabbed over. I no longer need to dress it; I suspect it will be completely healed within another week or so, though clearly the scar will continue to improve (fade) over time.

On the other hand, the adaptation of my bowel to its new configuration is progressing much more slowly. To be fair both my surgeon, and colleagues who have been through this, warned me not to expect too much too quickly. But I still went in with pretty high expectations. And if I’m brutally honest, I’d say that at the moment I’m at a stage where living with the ileostomy would have been easier than what I’m currently coping with – which is slightly depressing. However, the adaptation should continue fairly rapidly for a few more months yet, and then much more slowly for up to another year or two after that – so there is plenty of time for things to get a lot better yet.

My main concern at the moment is how long it will take to get me to the point where I can realistically return to work – at the moment I’d really struggle (at best). So here’s hoping for some rapid progress now we’re into the new year!

4 thoughts on “Reversal recovery (part viii)

  1. Yes indeed, here’s hoping for a btter year! Keep positive however hard that seems at times, negative thoughts really don’t achieve anything unless they are part of a constructive analysis to turn things around.

    • Absolutely agree; I’m convinced that having a positive outlook makes a huge difference.

      Really looking forward to 2010 too … I have some major milestones to achieve – get back to work, build up my fitness again, spend some quality time with my family, and give back something to the cancer care community that have helped me so much over the last year.

  2. Of course everyone is different, but I don’t think things really started to look brighter for me until at least 3 months post ileostomy closure (but I didn’t keep a diary so can’t be certain of dates). After a year things were definitely much better and continued to improve slowly even in the year or two following that.

    Like you, at first I was thinking “I wonder whether they’ll give me my ileostomy back if I asked?”.

    All I can do is assure you that I now have a normal life with only very occasional problems. Things will never be quite the same as they were pre-cancer, but however bleak things look now, the outlook is good.

    • Thanks for this Harry. Having some idea of the time that’s likely to be involved is really helpful, especially as my surgeon is extremely loathe to give me any estimates.

      He has told me that it’s very early days still. He also mentioned that this period tends to be more severe for lower resections (and my resection is about as low as it’s possible to go) and that most of his patients wonder about going back to the ileostomy at some point in this process.

      However, he also said that so far he hasn’t actually put any of his patients back onto an ileostomy; they’ve all made it to the point where they choose to stay with the closure – which I found very reassuring.

      Still, I’ve just entered my 9th week post-closure, and I can see improvements; good days are better (actually, quite a lot better!) and bad days aren’t quite as horrendous as they used to be. I just have far too many bad days still.

      But hopefully that will improve rapidly over the next few weeks and months.

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