I’m back home! My ileostomy reversal surgery on Monday went very well, and in Addie’s words, “Daddy’s poo-poo bag all gone.”
This surgery was light years easier than the original ileostomy and resection. I was nervous about a repeat of the issues I had last time, when it took my intestines many days to wake back up, prompting awful nausea and vomiting, so I intentionally took it very slowly: just a few sips of Gatorade on Monday, then half an English muffin yesterday. That approach seemed to work. I could definitely sense some grumpiness in my newly reconnected bowels, but not rushing back into solids seemed to coax my system back to life at the right pace.
There’s definitely still some abdominal pain, along with the familiar cramping feelings I had last time — making sleeping tough again — but both are an order of magnitude better. It’s almost like my body is more cooperative this time because it knows it’s been put back together, whereas last time it was rebelling against being somewhat violently (conceptually, not literally) rearranged.
The question everyone has been asking, of course, is, “What’s it like to poop again?” Well, it’s wonderful! That said, it’s definitely been an adjustment, with lots of shuffling back and forth to the bathroom, trying to relearn the body’s signals. I’m not expecting to regain 100% normal bowel function, but I’m told it gets much better after this initial phase — which sure beats the hell out of the bag anyway!
I have six more weeks on the soft diet (those cravings for charred broccolini will have to be kept at bay a bit longer), and I’m back to the “no lifting anything over 10 pounds” restrictions for that same stretch. But the end is in sight, and my new butt is the best Christmas present ever.
Being back at UH reminded me how remarkable that team is, from the world-renowned Dr. Dietz to the incomparable Vicki Rumpler, NP to Rose the legendary ostomy nurse to the entire team (Carlton, Chrissy, Katarina, and so many others) on the fifth floor of the Seidman Cancer Center. I won’t miss the surgeries themselves, or their recoveries, but I will miss the incredible people there and be forever grateful to them.