An update to my cancer fight.

I had surgery on November 9th, 2021, to remove the cancer from my rectum. The surgeon, Dr. Leonard Armstrong, with Sanford Hospital’s Roger Maris Cancer Center, was initially optimistic that he wouldn’t have to give me a permanent colostomy based off the latest scans taken. Unfortunately once he got in there and started removing tissue it seemed suspicious to him, and to the two other doctors he had examine the tissue. In the end he ended up removing all of my rectum and giving me a permanent colostomy bag.  He ended up having to flip me onto my stomach to get down far enough to remove everything. The incision on my backside is still painful.

You know the old saying, “Opinions are like assholes, everyone has one.” Well, I no longer have an asshole. It’s been sewn up tight and I poop into a bag attached to my abdomen.

 

My hospital stay was hell. The night of the 9th I slept maybe 10 minutes all night because of the severe pain I was in. The next morning Dr. Armstrong stopped in and was not happy that they hadn’t contacted him to authorize stronger pain medication. By noon on the 10th I was hooked up to a machine that had a continuous drip of pain meds plus I could push a button every 10 minutes for more. I took full advantage of that over the next couple of days. They took me off it by Friday, but ended up putting me back on it by Sunday as I started puking from the pain again Saturday evening. I ended up spending two full weeks in the hospital. Most of that was because my bowels decided to play Punxsutawney Phil and go back to sleep for a couple of days. They took numerous x-rays of my abdomen over that time to see how stuff going through my bowels was progressing. The one day they gave me a solution to drink to make it easier for them to see on the x-ray. I got the first glass down, but after two sips from the second glass it all came back up. Subsequent attempts at getting any more of that solution (it’s tasted horrible and had the consistency of buttermilk even though it was clear like water) resulted in my puking everything up. By the end of the day I had nothing in my stomach as each time I threw up it was at least one liter, even though the solution downed as maybe 10 ml. Most of the days just kind of ran together.

 

Once my bowels woke up again the pain started diminishing and I spent more time sitting up and walking around. They were willing to discharge me on the Tuesday night before Thanksgiving even though my pulse was still in the 100-120 range. Even today it’s still around 100 when I’m just sitting on the couch resting.

It’s a new way of life that is going to take some time to adjust to fully. I’ve gotten pretty good at emptying my bag, as I have to do it several times a day. Replacing the bag requires the assistance of my wife, and still takes us over half an hour. Sleeping on my side has been somewhat problematic because of where the bag is located on my abdomen and that my stoma (where my colon exits my body and is surgically attached to my abdomen) is still swollen. I started with a two piece pouch that had a ring that sealed the pouch to the part stuck on my body. This caused a pressure point when I rolled over onto my side to sleep. I’m now trying a one piece pouch. This has helped with the sleeping, but makes it more difficult to release my farts (as I fart the bag bloats with the gas and pushes my shirt out noticeably). I’m not sure which I will end up liking better overall. Also, I have no control over my farts or when I defecate. I generally don’t even know when I’m doing it. Other than a couple of seconds before let rip with a loud fart I can feel some pressure inside my abdomen near the stoma, I don’t feel anything when gas or fecal matter are expelled.

 

But, I’m alive. I’m home. And each day the pain gets slightly better. I’m hoping next week to start driving again.