Initially after my surgery my pain was minimal. I really couldn't understand why people complained about surgery pain so much. I had my first surgery on Monday. On Thursday I was allowed to eat a clear liquid diet. I did so well that on Friday I was allowed to eat a regular breakfast. I felt great that morning. I got out of bed, sat in a chair and read the newspaper. Then my breakfast came and I ate part of it. Suddenly I didn't feel very good. I went back to bad for the rest of the day. Later that night when I finally vomited the nurses could not believe how much I had inside of me. They handed me a small kidney basin. I told them to get me a larger basin or there would be a large mess to clean up. I filled up about half of the large basin. One of the nurses that night smelled of cigarette smoke very strongly. That certainly didn't help my nausea any. I don't think she understood just how bad she smelled to those around her. She became very bossy and rude to me at one point during the night. I told her to stop telling me what to do since she wasn't a doctor. I felt kind of bad for being so rude, but when I told the surgeon what had happened in the morning he said that was o.k.
I began having pain in my lower back and thought it was from spending so much time in bed. I certainly wasn't used to being so inactive. I don't think I had ever spent so much time in a bed in 1 week. By the following Monday my rectum started to hurt. Now I thought that possibly the back pain was just radiated pain from my rectum. When the surgeon came by to see me and I mentioned it to him, he had to do an exam. Yeah, the kind of exam that no guy ever wants to get. He said I had an abscess and would need surgery. I asked when that would be. He said he would call the operating room and see if I could go tonight (it was about 10pm). He returned and told me I was going to surgery. I called my wife and let her know. She came up to the hospital to wait for another surgery. Some small drain tubes were places. This made sitting on the right side very uncomfortable. The next several months I had surgery to replace drains and drain the abscess several times. I think once they drained about 500ml and another time it was 800ml. It was amazing to think of that much extra fluid in such a small area. No wonder my backside hurt.
To make matters worse I got a bowel obstruction. This was the worst pain I have ever experienced. The pain was not relieved by pain medications. The only time I didn't feel the pain, was when I was asleep. The nurses inserted a nasogastric tube (NG-tube). The tube was uncomfortable, but not really painful as it was inserted up my nose and down the back of my throat to my stomach. The painful part came later. The longer the tube was in, the more uncomfortable it became to speak or even swallow. After a few days the surgeon asked if I wanted the tube out. I replied that I did. He put some gloves on, took the tape off of my nose and pulled the tube out. It all happened very quickly. He said, "Wasn't that better than me writing an order and you waiting for a nurse to come and pull the tube?" Indeed it was much better. That tube couldn't have come out quickly enough.
My weakness increased while I was in the hospital and I ended up needing 2 units of blood and 4 units of plasma. I lost so much weight from not eating for so long that I had to be started on TPN (total parenteral nutrition). This was delivered through a PICC line (peripherally inserted central catheter) which went from my right elbow to my heart. I'm not sure what my lowest weight was, but when I got home I weighed a mere 123 pounds. And I had probably gained some weight. I bought suspenders because none of my pants fit me anymore.
The original plan to reverse the ileostomy in 3 months was changed to 6 months. I am so glad that my surgeon did my colectomy and j-pouch in 2 surgeries. If it had been done in 1, it probably would have become too infected to repair and I would have had the ileostomy the rest of my life.