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Colostomy And Normal Life

Dear friends:

I had surgery for colorectal cancer on Aug 22 and have been recovering nicely since then. Since the tumor in my descending colon was too close to my rectum, the surgeon decided to remove my rectum and replace it with a colostomy. Prior to surgery I had full radiation treatment (23 sessions). Everything went well, the effects were temporary and I am left with 6 of the original 7 feet of my colon. I use a colostomy bag (which can be quite expensive, as you all know).

After two months I still feel pain in my abdomen and of course my behind was sealed and I guess a lot of this is a matter of adjustment. I have solid stool, and I consider myself lucky to be alive, etc. etc.

I recently heard about colostomy irrigiation and I am very interested. I talked to my surgeon and nurse about it. The main issue, they said, is that I am on a strict macrobiotic diet (and have been since Dec, 2005 and I attribute my strong immunity and perhaps my survival to it). They said that for a colostomy irrigation to work I would have to switch to a more normal diet so that I would only have one or two bowel movements a day instead of the frequent ones I have right now as a result of my macrobiotic diet (plus lots of white fish). Actually I eat two or three meals a day and each one is followed by a big bowel movement (sometimes in the form of two or more colostomy bags).

Is anyone on the forum on a macrobiotic diet or knows enough about it to answer my question? Should a macrobiotic diet prevent me from colostomy irrigation?

TI would very much appreciate it if you could share some of your experiences with me.

I am told repeatedly that a colostomite can live a normal life, even including swimming, hiking, etc. etc. And that’s with colostomy bags. Naturally, colostomy irrigation would make it even better.

It’s been 10 weeks since my operation. Fortunately, due to the excellent medical team at Knoxville’s Baptist Hospital, I survived everything as best as can be expected: no metastasis anywhere, local or distant, no lympth nodes. The surgery was preceded by radiation, which killed my rectum and the tumor inside and the multiple lymph nodes in it. All tests, including a PET scan showed that there was no trace of cancer in my body.

I attribute much of that also to my macrobiotic diet, which I have been following since Dec, 2005, when I was first diagnosed. It has given me a very strong immune system, and that is probably what protected me from metastasis until my operation. It also helped to protect my colon during the 5 weeks of radiation.

I have been making a lot of progress, and I thank God for that. I walk two miles every day (though with some difficulty since my thigh and arm muscles have lost their muscle tone — I lost 70 lb before surgery, down from 175 to 105). I am now gaining weight (I now weigh around 120).

My surgeon’s nurse says that if I walk 2 miles a day I will be getting my physical therapy and that my thighs and arms will fill out and return to normal strength but that it may take as along as a year. Others have said the same thing.

All of that is fine and good, but there are two issues that I am unclear about:

1) Because my rectum was removed, my behind was sewed up, that is, sealed. I feel constant low-grade pain when I try to sit or walk. My question: will my behind eventually stretch and adjust and feel completely normal?

2) I feel as if something is pulling me up front where my stoma is. My surgeon says that my stoma had to be surgically attached and that is why I feel that it’s pulling me inside. Again, I am wondering what your experiences have been? My surgeon says that the stoma has to adjust to my body and organs inside and vice-versa and that this will eventually happen.

From your experience, will it? It doesn’t matter if it takes a year. The question is: can I look forward to an end to the pain both in my behind and in my stoma? If so, then this will make a big difference and allow me to put up with the temporary situation.

Thank you all so very much and thank you for your moral support.


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Colostomy And Normal Life

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