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Recovery From Bowel Obstruction--Advice?

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Recovery From Bowel Obstruction--Advice?

Postby brigita » Fri Sep 02, 2011 12:26 am

Hey fellow clubbers! I got to experience my first ever small bowel obstruction this past Monday--good times! After suffering pain that would roll from a 4 to an 8 for 4.5h, I finally admitted that this new pain was not getting better and drove myself to the ER at 3am.

Anyhow, I was discharged on Wednesday and feel like I have lost all of the poop progress that I've fought for over the last three years. In that vein, I'm hoping to get some advice from those who've been there:

* How long did it take you to return to a normal poop schedule after resolving your obstruction?
* How long did you stay on the clear/full liquids diet? Did you eat a low residue diet before returning to your regular eating habits or did you just jump right in?
* How were you or your doctor sure the obstruction had resolved itself? Did anyone have another blockage shortly after the first one?

Thanks in advance!
:)
brigita

PS: NG tubes are the pits!
Stage III rectal @ 33, 4.5mo postpartum
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Re: Recovery From Bowel Obstruction--Advice?

Postby NWgirl » Fri Sep 02, 2011 12:34 am

I've only had one bowel obstruction - also in my small bowel and also requiring a middle of the night run to the ER - no fun!

My obstruction resolved on its own (it still bought me 2 1/2 days in the hospital to make sure I was okay). I went on a low residue diet for a few days then pretty much resumed eating as I normally did. I didn't have any problems in adjusting back to my 'normal' bowel routine, although my 'normal' routine was a complete mess, so it couldn't have gotten much worse anyway! :)

My midnight run to the ER took place back in February or March of 2011 and I haven't had a problem since. It's the only time I've had a problem in the almost 4 years I've been dealing with my cancer diagnosis. For me I think it was a combination of things that led to the obstruction - too many pain meds, chemo and not drinking enough fluids. I sort of created a perfect storm. I've dealt with all the factors that I THINK contributed to the obstruction - and again, no problems since. But then I hear a lot of times it's caused by adhesions - so I could be totally wrong.

And yeah - NG tubes are no fun! I refused one - though I thought I might have to arm wrestle the ER doc over that one.
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Re: Recovery From Bowel Obstruction--Advice?

Postby Twinsmom » Fri Sep 02, 2011 6:43 am

I had 5 obstructions caused by adhesions last year. The 5th one put me I'm the hospital for 8 days and required surgery. I think you are safe staying on a soft diet for a day or 2 and then gradually add back normal foods. In my experience it tok several days for bowel patterns to return to normal. Remember that the intestines and colon are very long organs and it takes time to refill them after you have emptied them. I generally went 2 or 3 days without pooping.

Try to remember what you ate before you became obstructed to see if you can determine the cause. Be careful to chew your food well and avoid too many hard, crunchy foods at one time. At least 2 people on this board became obstructed from baby carrots and roast carrots were a factor for me in one episode. Since my surgery I have not had another problem but there have been a couple of times that I've felt backed up with a little indigestion and so I've put myself on a liquid diet for a day or so until I've returned to normal.
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Re: Recovery From Bowel Obstruction--Advice?

Postby beth568 » Fri Sep 02, 2011 7:46 am

I had a nasty ordeal with an obstruction that was probably caused by adhesions a couple of months ago, and a smaller ordeal a few weeks later. Both times I'd eaten something before hand that most likely didn't help - in one case, a lot of popcorn, and in the other, a big bowl of crunchy brown rice.

I do think you should be feeling more or less back to "normal" within a few days. Yes, eat a soft low residue diet for a bit, and then gradually introduce new stuff. I haven't had any more issues since these, though for the time being I'm avoiding very high fiber foods (which makes me sad, because it's all the stuff that's good for me, but oh well).

Hope you don't have a repeat experience. That pain is awful!
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Re: Recovery From Bowel Obstruction--Advice?

Postby brigita » Fri Sep 02, 2011 1:12 pm

I'm pretty sure that my blockage was caused in part by my having eaten 2 Lara bars (mainly dates & nuts) without drinking any water. I'm sure the salmon jerky, walnuts, and baby carrots I ate in the following days didn't help things, either.

It's a good reminder that blockages can happen pretty much any time and that chewing my food isn't just a way to savor my food--it's a way to stay out of the hospital!

Thanks for all of your advice--I'm hoping that the days of hot, yellow "output" (sorry for the TMI, but then this whole board is kinda TMI, right?) are numbered. :)
Stage III rectal @ 33, 4.5mo postpartum
Ovary transpo: 12/07
33 tx rad+Xeloda: 2/08
Lap LAR 0/11 +nodes: 3/08
8 FOLFOX tx: 8/08
Ileo reversal: 9/08
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Normal uterus + lame ovaries = infertile
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Re: Recovery From Bowel Obstruction--Advice?

Postby mm66ny » Fri Sep 02, 2011 3:50 pm

I had a small bowel obstruction last December--only days after having a clean PET Scan! Did the whole NG tube thing, tests, etc., but it resolved on its own. Then, I had a few more incidents that felt pretty close to an obstruction in the ensuing months. In April I ended up having emergency surgery because of (what I think was) the same part of the small bowel being obstructed. They kept me on a wait and see for too long, and I went septic before they operated. My recovery was very slow.

After both times, it took a while to get regular (for lack of a better term) again, especially after the surgery. The first time, I might have been taking too much citrucel and immodium--I don't know, and even after it resolved it still took a good week before I wasn't feeling like throwing up after every time I ate. By then I had cut out the immodium and reduced the citrucel, green leafy stuff and some veggies--all the good stuff!

Just something we have to live with. And I also chew my food well because of it.
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Re: Recovery From Bowel Obstruction--Advice?

Postby mm66ny » Fri Sep 02, 2011 3:51 pm

Did I mention that it was painful as hell? Came in waves.
Dx RC, T3N1M0, Feb. 2009
6 weeks rad. w/5fu pump
LAR, Ileostomy June 2009
12 Folfox tx
Jan. 2010 PET Scan all clear
Ileostomy takedown Jan. 2010
Dec. 2010, PET Scan all clear
April 2011 emerg. surg. for SBO
Age 45
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Re: Recovery From Bowel Obstruction--Advice?

Postby stexviking » Sat Sep 03, 2011 12:15 pm

I've had two episodes close together. Was one step away from going to hospital, but a dose of Mag Citrate (the common man's nuclear weapon) and back to watching the diet straightened things out.
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Re: Recovery From Bowel Obstruction--Advice?

Postby mm66ny » Sat Sep 03, 2011 10:22 pm

Speaking of nuclear weapons. Brigita, I like your avatar. What's is mag citrate (sp?)
Dx RC, T3N1M0, Feb. 2009
6 weeks rad. w/5fu pump
LAR, Ileostomy June 2009
12 Folfox tx
Jan. 2010 PET Scan all clear
Ileostomy takedown Jan. 2010
Dec. 2010, PET Scan all clear
April 2011 emerg. surg. for SBO
Age 45
married w/6 children
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Re: Recovery From Bowel Obstruction--Advice?

Postby ktdid » Wed Mar 28, 2012 12:21 pm

Mag citrate is a laxative. Read study of treatment with mag citrate, L-acidophillus, and simethicone (gas-x), three times a day to speed resolve along with the hydration. Haven't tried it. Just survived 72 hrs with just trying to keep water in me. It finally opened up. My question is when do you know it's time to go before it's too late?
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Re: Recovery From Bowel Obstruction--Advice?

Postby Nickmark59 » Wed Mar 28, 2012 8:30 pm

Good thing its not the old days my wife's grand father told me how they cleared a Bowell obstruction. He once had was by swallowing a ball of mercury. It did the trick but yow .
I had my Bowell collapse after my temp col was removed and it took 8 days to clear talk about agony then 45 days in all fluids in my stomach came up looked like scene from the exorcist poor male nurse got worst of it.
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Re: Recovery From Bowel Obstruction--Advice?

Postby Jachut » Wed Mar 28, 2012 11:11 pm

I had two very lose together, i had to have a break fom chemo first time, followed by reduced dosage, this was 5fu, then after the second ( both times hospitalised for four days) we decided no more chemo. I was fine after that, i resumed a normal diet over a period of weeks.
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Re: Recovery From Bowel Obstruction--Advice?

Postby society » Tue Apr 10, 2012 8:18 am

My goodness, what horror stories! I was on holiday on a tropical island in the indian ocean when my small bowel was obstructed. Did the whole nose thing etc..etc.. but in the end landed up with a 25cm surgery. The worse part for was the nose tube, but then I seem to have had a tube in every cavity in my body and no water and stayed in ICU for 11 days. Anyway, I believe I had an amazing doctor and he advised that I stay on a soft diet for one month and then only introduce fish and chicken and a little seeds and grain at a time. Red meat my only be eaten after four to six months. It is now just over three weeks from my surgery and I definitely have no bowel movement problems.
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Re: Recovery From Bowel Obstruction--Advice?

Postby steiconi2 » Sun Dec 09, 2012 3:34 am

Man, I just typed a long reply, and my computer ate it.
I've had four full obstructions and several partials. The first two were two months apart, shortly after the take down of my ileostomy. I had a dilation after the second one, and had no trouble for about 4 years. #3 and #4 were both in the area of the ileostomy scars, two years ago and just this week. I suspect I'm gathering scar tissue in that area and it will have to be addressed at some point.

#3 was caused by some really sticky licorice. It was Christmas day, we had 10 people over for dinner; I went to my room and moaned and barfed all evening. I was ready to give in and go to the ER at 3am because my legs were cramping from ankle to hip (low potassium from all the vomiting), but when I got up to get ready, I felt the blockage clear. So I went back to bed.

#4--dried cherries! I got to the ER around midnight, before I really started vomiting (I must be getting wimpy), spent about 2 days in the hospital, got home yesterday.
Doctor said dried fruit was a common problem, also nuts. He said avoid dry foods, eat wet foods. I would say avoid foods that clump together, (think peanut butter), and eat foods that disintegrate well (like bread).

In defense of the NG tube: I've had six so far, longest for 11 days in a row. I hated that first one, resisted it, complained about it, even became convinced it had hooks that stuck in my stomach. Good drugs, huh? The next one, they took out too soon, and I was vomiting every 45 minutes, like Old Faithful. I've decided that the tube is better than vomiting. Also, the docs use the volume and color of what gets sucked out to gauge progress.

Incidentally, how could your ER not recognize bowel obstruction? I was the third case of it in the ER the other night, and a fourth one came in as I was leaving. It seems very common!
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Re: Recovery From Bowel Obstruction--Advice?

Postby steiconi » Sun Dec 09, 2012 3:38 am

I've had four full obstructions and several partials. The first two were two months apart, shortly after the take down of my ileostomy. I had a dilation after the second one, and had no trouble for about 4 years. #3 and #4 were both in the area of the ileostomy scars, two years ago and just this week. I suspect I'm gathering scar tissue in that area and it will have to be addressed at some point.

#3 was caused by some really sticky licorice. It was Christmas day, we had 10 people over for dinner; I went to my room and moaned and barfed all evening. I was ready to give in and go to the ER at 3am because my legs were cramping from ankle to hip (low potassium from all the vomiting), but when I got up to get ready, I felt the blockage clear. So I went back to bed.

#4--dried cherries! I got to the ER around midnight, before I really started vomiting (I must be getting wimpy), spent about 2 days in the hospital, got home yesterday.
Doctor said dried fruit was a common problem, also nuts. He said avoid dry foods, eat wet foods. I would say avoid foods that clump together, (think peanut butter), and eat foods that disintegrate well (like bread).

In defense of the NG tube: I've had six so far, longest for 11 days in a row. I hated that first one, resisted it, complained about it, even became convinced it had hooks that stuck in my stomach. Good drugs, huh? The next one, they took out too soon, and I was vomiting every 45 minutes, like Old Faithful. I've decided that the tube is better than vomiting. Also, the docs use the volume and color of what gets sucked out to gauge progress.

Incidentally, how could your ER not recognize bowel obstruction? I was the third case of it in the ER the other night, and a fourth one came in as I was leaving. It seems very common!
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