I went in for surgery in early December of 2008 expecting what I was told by a gastroenterologist and the surgeon — that my sigmoid colon would be removed, my colon would be reattached, the hospital stay would be about 7 days, and then other than having to take it easy for several weeks, my body’s “waste processing facilities” would work as they should.
It didn’t turn out that way. My sigmoid colon was removed, the sections of colon were reattached – but nothing worked as it should. The first day or two after surgery, it seemed that everything would be OK. I was up and walking around on the second day, exceeding expectations (so I was told) for the ability to get up and around. The surgery was on a Monday. By Wednesday, though, my abdomen began to hurt more and more. It felt like excessive gas pain or like the ileus I once had after a different sort of abdominal surgery. It felt really horrible.
By Friday, the pain was nearly unbearable. In the middle of the night, I felt a sharp, intense, horrible, excruciating pain just below my belly button. I told the doctors and nurses about it, about how horrible it felt. And then I don’t remember anything until quite a few days later.
What I’ve been told is that I was left pretty much alone all weekend in the hospital. I later asked the surgeon why that was the case, and he told me that often such things will resolve themselves and he wanted to avoid a second surgery. Then on Monday (one week after the first surgery), I am told that I went for a CT scan and/or other tests. By Wednesday (9 days after the first surgery), I apparently signed consent forms for a second surgery. It turns out that I had a volvulus (this is a twist in the colon that rarely occurs in adults and that leads to necrosis of the sections of the colon that have twisted. It often leads to death). I have a redundant colon (about twice the length of a normal person’s colon) and more sections of it were removed during the second surgery. I still have a redundant colon, and if I ever decide to have the colostomy I now have reversed, the redundancy will be removed before the resection.
The short version of this is that I awakened with a colostomy. (In the page of this blog called “What it’s like to have a colostomy,” I make some comments about that.) At first, it really didn’t “register” with me, but when it did, I was convinced that my life was essentially over. The reason that it didn’t really dawn on me, or I didn’t really care much about the colostomy at first, is that after the second surgery, I couldn’t breathe well and was in intensive care for 5 days. I remember little snippets of things from the 4th day after the first surgery to the 5th day after the second surgery (so I lost about 2 weeks, in essence, of the nearly 3 weeks I spent in the hospital). But when I finally did come back to some significant awareness, I was not happy about the colostomy and yet I was still somewhat bewildered by it, I guess, and perhaps emboldened to some extent by the surgeon’s assurance that it was only temporary and that it could be reversed in the summer of 2009. (It is now the summer of 2009, and I have opted to wait to have it reversed and may decide not to do so at all. That, however, is a topic for another page.)
To be continued….