Oesophageal Patients Association
3,546 members2,146 posts

4 weeks post-op abdominal pain

My husband had his oesophagectomy and gastric pull-up 4 weeks and 2 days ago. He’s been eating soft foods since day 8 but is really suffering with horrible abdominal cramps. He gets them 1 or 2 times a day, and it seems to be related to food going through his system. He’s eating small amounts, but everything seems to cause this. Will this get better?!

17 Replies
oldestnewest

It does get easier and you get to eat a lot more with time - please reassure your husband. I can eat a normal sized meal at this stage.

2 likes
Reply

Opps, an example, I can eat a 12 inch pizza at this stage.

4 likes
Reply

Thanks Aoife, and for all of your advice before the op, which helped such a lot!

1 like
Reply

Hi I am currently 7 months post surgery and I to suffered from abdominal cramping front and also lower back pain right up till a few months ago - I use to easy mine by using a hot water bottle after eating . As AoifeMcC said it does get easier over time and your body adapts.

2 likes
Reply

Thank you - he’s been using a hot wheat bag which is helping a bit, but I’m glad it’ll ease in time. It’s just so debilitating :(

1 like
Reply

Hi I'm 8 years post op and used to suffer cramps and also found using a hot water bottle helped in the early stages. Have you read the advice about dumping on the OPA site too? I can eat quite normally ( though smaller amounts) It can be a bit of trial and error finding out what you can eat and how much but it will improve. Best Wishes to you both

2 likes
Reply

We have, thank you, and I think it sounds like managing food is the key. He’s not quite as patient as he should be!! I think his system is still settling at the moment so there isn’t really any rhyme or reason in what causes the pain at the moment. Thank you :)

Reply

Hi yes it does get better. 18 months post op now. Little and often is key but i also suffered dumping which was caused by full fat milk, yogurt . Has he got a jej feed still in . My cramps used to be round that. The body is also still repairing and the plumbing as we call it has its own problems.

Very early days so try not to stress about it. Speak with dietician at hospital.

Good luck

Debbie

2 likes
Reply

His jej is out - he’s diabetic so found that was causing issues for his sugars. Dairy is interesting - he’s eating a lot of that just now to get the calories in as he’s not eating much volume, so we’ll try reducing that. We think wheat might be a wee issue at the moment as well. It’s just horrible when it happens but it helps to know it’s not forever!

1 like
Reply

Hi Karen

it does get better. I am four and half years on. In the early days I used to get these almost unbearable cramps which left me just needing to lie around under a blanket until they went away. I get them only very occasionally now but they were awful at the time.

Good luck

Haward

1 like
Reply

Thank you Haward, that’s exactly what Andy’s been like :( it helps to know that they ease.

2 likes
Reply

Hi Karen ....my husband is 7 weeks and like him your husband is in very very early stages as we've learnt .....the hard way. From what I've found from this brilliant site , the most part everyone suffers similar problems along the line and be prepared and very patient! It is a very very long recovery. For some worse than others but still the biggest surgery you can have on the NHS and one major strain and emotional battle for all involved. I hope all improves without too much trouble but my poor hubby 4 weeks in had an OGD ( stretch of new gullet) as food stuck again ! Lasted barely 2 weeks and next week having to have a "stent" inserted as without it he can't have the post op Chemo ....he's too weak.

Good luck and just take each day ....I too just look forward to better days to come...best wishes Deb xx

2 likes
Reply

Wow, good luck to your hubby too. We are very lucky that chemo isn’t required, they got it all out, but we think the opening is tightening too. Patience is difficult, Andy’s 39 and desperate to get back to work, but the pain is a quite unpredictable. It’s certainly an emotional rollercoaster- all best wishes to you both as well. xx

Reply

It can be very easy to confuse "everything we eat" causing abdominal pain/cramps, with "certain" foods cause pain/cramps. A well managed food diary really helps here.

That may show that it is a single piece/type of food or drink that is causing the problem. Our new plumbing is incredibly sensitive as it attempts to find it's new "norm". Food that is fine one hour, is not fine in the next hour. Meals that work on Monday can fail on Tuesday. Drinking with food can lead to Dumping/pain.

You really need to try and narrow it down. The only way to do this to write down every single thing you eat and drink and the times you did so. That is most likely where the cause will be found.

Time is a great healer. Do not get despondent. Some things will start to get better just with time. Others will have to be confined to the dustbin.

Lactose

Chocolate

Gluten

Sugar

Alcohol

These are some of the big suspects to wary off as they are "known" to be able to trigger dumping in many case studies. Even in tiny amounts.

I am now three years post op and largely fine with most things. Volume is a big issue for me. I have a limit as to how much is okay. If I breach that limit I will 100% be in pain. A good tip is to imagine the size of your new stomach (in my case smaller than my fist) then vision how much food that would hold, without stretching it. That is your limit.

Good luck.

Bruce

3 likes
Reply

Oh as a helpful guide to most men’s “real” biscuit intake:

Q. How many biscuits did you eat?

* None = Between 1 & 5.

* Just a couple = Half a packet.

* A few = The entire packet.

5 likes
Reply

Haha! Brilliant :) Thank you for the advice, it’s really helpful. Since last week we already seem to have progressed from extreme abdominal cramps at least twice a day to a few days in between. He’s only 5 weeks and 2 days post-op so maybe some of this is just about things settling and then we can start to use a food diary to do the scientific bit!

1 like
Reply

Karen

It’s difficult to go around upsetting folks through words. But....

5 weeks is very very early. I am 3 years now and still have bad days. But they are few and far between and usually attributable to me eating stuff that I know I should not.

Once we understand the cause the pain is manageable as it is not so frightening.

I blame Cadburys.

1 like
Reply

You may also like...