Not much I can add here other than to say - yes - it's major surgery - but it's manageable, and if you are in otherwise good health you will likely do just fine. I'm 43, had LAR surgery last May, and didn't end up with an ileostomy. I had some bowel management issues for a few weeks, and that was frustrating, but it has improved significantly with time. My advice to you would be to start out with a very bland, lowish fiber diet, and to gradually introduce foods. I wore Depends for about a month after surgery, even though I never had a major accident; it just helped me to know that I wouldn't have a disaster if I couldn't make it to a bathroom in time. If you search this forum for the threads on post-reversal life you'll see that the big issue is "clustering" of bowel movements, which for me meant heading back to the bathroom every few minutes for periods of about an hour or more in the early days. Not fun, and yes, it can cause awful butt burn. Calmoseptine ointment and soaks in a hot tub help a lot. If you have to deal with traveling again after the surgery, I'd just get an aisle seat, wear the adult diaper for peace of mind, and hope for the best.
As for other recovery issues, the sooner you can get up and moving while in the hospital, the better. You will feel achy and stiff for a couple of weeks, and may need to move slowly, but by 6 weeks out, I was feeling pretty good. I did a lot of walking up and down our street after I came home, and the more I moved, the better I felt.
People here will help with any questions you have, and no question about bowel function is off-limits (it's been a huge comfort to me to be able to find straightforward information and answers about issues that I couldn't comfortably discuss with people who have not been through this experience). Good luck!
Beth dx @age 42, Jan '11
RC, T2or3NxM0 (stage IIIA/IIIB)
6 wks chemorad Feb - Mar '11
LAR 5/23/11, staged T2N1bM0 (2 of 15 nodes positive)
8 rounds FOLFOX, June-Oct. 2011
clear scans Nov '11, May '12, Nov '12, May '13 http://www.mysemicolon.net