My Mum - bowel trouble post op

Hi Everyone,

My Mum has recently been diagnosed with stage 3 ovarian cancer. I know she has found this site a great support, so thought I would get myself on here to call on your advice. Apologies for the long post, but just wanted to give you as much info as I could..

Mum underwent a full hysterectomy almost two weeks ago. She also had part of her bowel removed, her appendix and the omentum. She also had some cancerous spots 'burnt' off her liver - and they cleaned out the lining of her stomach. Mum spent six days in hospital but was readmitted last Wednesday, so has now been back in hospital for almost the same amount of time she was initially in for. She was having terrible abdominal pains on her right side and couldn't move. After discounting a twisted bowel, we believe it may have been a build up of stools in her bowel. The pain has now dissipated although she is now having massive problems with going to the loo. She's unable to hold food down for longer than an hour at a time and each time she goes to the loo, she's in a lot of pain and feeling faint. She isn't having diarrhoea but her stools are lose..not sure how best to explain! It's basically exhausting her. I should add that she has low level pneumonia and a suspected infection (they have taken a stool sample to test for the infection) - I'm optimistic on this latter point as she is not running a fever, nor feeling or being sick. I think it is just a precautionary measure. I suppose I'm just hoping for reassurance from you all that this bowel movement is fairly normal. From what i've read over the internet, it seems to be the norm - although this is no comfort for my Mum who is going through it all. We've been researching the sort of things she should and shouldn't be eating and I know it's going to be different for everyone - but again, just wanted to get your advice.

Whilst we can all see that Mum is improving and gradually getting her strength back - it's hard for Mum to keep her spirits up - it seems that she takes a step forward , then gets knocked back a couple of steps. The hospital has been great and she has had good support from the nurses etc, but no advice on diet etc... she is seeing a dietician today, although I would have thought this should have been done from the get go...

She still has some cancerous spots on her lung - so they are talking about starting chemo in two weeks - we can't face the prospect of this, and while Mum is slowly getting stronger, she's having to take a step at a time. Hoping for improvements in the next few weeks before any treatment starts, but at this stage, I don't think she can even bear thinking about it.

Interested to hear your experiences.

Thanks and wishing you all speedy recoveries xxxx

7 Replies

  • Dear emskilemski

    It's good you've joined the forum as it's tough for the women with cancer but at your stage it seems to me almost worse for the supporters and carers who feel powerless.

    Your mum certainly had a big operation and I should imagine it takes some time to recover from that. It's quite early days for the moment. Remembering back 3 years I had quite a lot of abdominal pain for several weeks after surgery and didn't have anything as extensive as your mum's.

    I do feel she's in the right place and it's a matter of asking questions of the staff. It's difficult though for relatives who aren't necessarily there when the ward rounds and other consultations take place. I'd imagine there's a limit at the moment to what your mum can take in given she's in such pain.

    Hopefully the dietician will leave a fact sheet you can all go through together. There was a discussion 2 days ago which is linked below: High Fat/Protein Low Fibre Diet which you might be interested to read. We concluded it's not a Low Fibre Diet per se, but a Low Unsoluble Fibre Diet which is explained in some of the html links in the thread. From my observation hospitals tend to serve up a Low Unsoluble Fibre Diet which is easily digested and limits residue passing into the bowel.

    You're quite right when you observe your Mum is taking 'one step at a time'. In these early days it seems to me that's really the best philosophy.

    Please do keep posting. I know others will have helpful comments. If you're worried about anything don't forget Ovacome's Nurse-led Helpline. They are really knowledgable and can bring professional as well as personal experience to their advice. The number is: 0845 371 0554.

    Hope to hear from you soon. x Annie

  • Hi, Sorry to hear your mum is having all these problems. When I had my hysterectomy I also had my appendix and omentum removed as well as two sections of my bowel. I'm a healthy resilient person and rarely sick but when I woke up from the surgery I was so poorly. I was as sick as a dog for eight days and when they weaned me off the epidural five days after my op I had a lot of abdominal pain. I also had a temperature so was on antibiotics. At one point I was rushed off for a CT scan as I suspect they thought I had a twisted bowel as well. The scan came back clear so I think the pain was caused by all the wretching as I couldn't stop being sick. Eight days after my surgery the sickness stopped so I started eating small amounts. That was when my bowels decided to wake up. I didn't have pain when I opened my bowels but I struggled to control my bowels as is was liquid (sorry if this is too much information). I eventually went home after nine days feeling very weak and a stone and a half lighter. I asked my Consultant why I had been so poorly and he said that the bowel doesn't like being fiddled with and goes into a massive sulk when it does. For about six months after my surgery I would still get occasional abdominal pain after eating certain foods (apples and peas) so I learnt to avoid these foods. Also even now 18 months since my surgery I still get occasional abdominal pain when I haven't opened my bowels which I assume is down to having a more sensitive bowel these days. I think that talking to a dietician will help as they should be able to advise your mum on what foods she should and shouldn't be eating. I hope this helps, Kerry x

  • Thanks ladies for both of your replies! Very helpful and reassuring to hear your experiences. It's a great source of support for us all. Thank you x

  • Hi.

    The first two/three weeks after my debulking surgery, in September 2012, the loo time was a nightmare... I had diarrhea and my guts were also complaining a lot, with aches and pain... I left the bathroom all sweated due to the pain. But after some time the bowel calmed down and today have no problem.

    Hope your mother feels better in short time.

    Hugs, Fernanda

  • Agree with the other posts. The bowel does not like being fiddled with. I had an emergency hernia operation last August, 4 days after abdominal surgery, and recognise all the gruesome descriptions! The only thing no-one's dwelled on yet is wind or ending up with a very sore bottom - babywipes are useful, as are sudocrem and vaseline . My diet is still not entirely back to what it was before.

    When I could start eating again, I lived on sourdough toast and soup for quite a while. Ground rice pudding good too. I found it quite unpredictable what would and would not set off the worst of the symptoms. I received no useful guidance from the hospital and when I cast around on the internet turned up similar resources to those Whippit points you to in the other thread.

    Best wishes to your mum and to you - she's lucky to have such a support - hope she'll feel a bit better soon and ready to face off the chemo. xx

  • Again agree with the other posts. After my Debaulking operation and after discharge from hospital I had a bowel blockage, within five days. I was admitted to my local hospital where on Christmas Eve they said I would need an emergency operation. The good news was that my CNS nurse had taught me to position myself on all fours, which I did on top of my hospital bed and this helped with passing wind and getting my bowel to work again. Yep, people thought I was strange but if strange works then I will do anything. So on Christmas Day the consulatant said I could go home and that it was down to me me that I had unblocked my bowel, with exercise.

    I remember asking about diet and being giving a Macmillan booklet by my CNS nurse. I was told by the consulatant in my local hospital that I should only ever eat small meals and often. To a certain extent I really do think that was the best advice I was given. The real breakthrough for me was my husband who does all the cooking started making me nutritious homemade soups and these really seemed to help me feel so much better.

    I really do feel for you both as I rememeber feeling so overwhelmed by the changes to my body and how to cope. I think it is wonderful you have been refered to a dietician and it would be great to hear how this goes.

    Take care as I can also understand that facing more chemotherpagy is very hard for your mum. I have great empathy for her on that as I am halfway through third line chemotherpagy myself. It was so tough for me to go through it all again for a third time but somehow I am getting through it. Things move on all the time and it is not as bad as I remember it and all I can say is that I am trully glad I decided to continue with chemotherphy as many of the affects from the cancer are now abating a bit. My main strategy for getting through is to take one day at a time and not look to far into the future and the only time I was unable to that was when I was put on watch and wait.

    With much love Wendy xx

  • Dear emsskilemski,

    I am sorry to hear about your mum, and the complications she seems to be going through at the moment, it does seem to be daunting having chemo when she is already going through so much, but please be assured that your mum will only be given chemo when they feel she is well enough i know it won't seem like it now but it is surprising how quickly she will pick up.

    I wish her all the very best with her future treatment.

    One thing more I don't know whether you are aware or not... but you can select you post to be read by "members only" otherwise what you write can be picked up on the WWW, you do this by pressing the down arrow at the bottom of your post select edit and scroll down to press "members only" and submit, if you'd rather not do this then you can choose this option on any future posts if you prefer.

    Best wishes love x G x

You may also like...