Cancer Wars VII: The Bowel Awakens

Hey there everyone just wanted to drop by and add another little thing about the fun surgery I had, in this case the “sleeping bowel”. I told you I would try and update with basically everything I was going through this way if you too are going through this or know someone else that is you will know what I went through and thus have a bit of insight you may not have had before. Well this little bit of insight comes with some embarrassment to me but I am still going to write this blog because it is an important thing to know and also it might save you some embarrassment if you know that everyone basically goes through this for this type of surgery.

As I mentioned the subject of this blog is the sleeping bowel. Basically what this means is when you have a huge surgery especially in this area your bowel kinda takes a nap and stops working for a bit. My doctor told me that the bowel would be basically the last thing in that area to really “wake up” from the surgery. Because of this interesting little phenomenon when you wake up from surgery like this you will be on IV only and you will not even be allowed to have ice chips or water. The people in the recovery room were nice enough to give me some water on a foam swab so that I could moisten my lips and the inside of my mouth but I was not to drink any of the water for the first day or two. They explained to me that because my bowel was basically asleep it would not digest anything that was put into it and infact the most common thing that would happen if I did drink anything until it woke up is that I would end up puking it all back up. Considering that my stomach was all ripped open from the surgery and I have who knows how many things stitched up inside me and 36 staples along a 15″ gash in my stomach that hurts when I move at that point, I could easily see where puking would not be all that fun a thing to do.

After about 2 days I was able to have ice chips to eat but only about 4-6 per hour. At this point my bowel was waking up. My doctor and the nurses kept asking me when they came in if I was passing gas. You see farting is a sign that the bowel is waking up and it’s a good thing to be doing after your surgery. You see they told me that while the bowel is asleep and not accepting new things it’s still basically working digesting old cells and normal bodily waste that would normally be there mixed with your food and such. This all creates a LOT of gas and will have your stomach a bit distended and hard feeling. In fact to check your gas levels the doctor will play you like a drum, truly! Fingers will be put on your stomach and then the doctor will tap on his fingers to feel how tight you may feel but to also listen to the noise you make and yes you will feel and sound like a drum. So during my first full day in the room which was day 3 of my recovery I laid around and farted and farted and farted and everyone said I was doing great because of it.

During this first day of farting they also got me up and moving a bit. It is said that the walking helps your bowel start to wake up. So they had me hooked to an IV with 2 or 3 different leads into me and a catheter walking down the hallway on unsteady feet. Let me tell you that is an experience I do not want to have again. When you first start walking it’s very odd…I won’t say painful because to me it wasn’t but it was certainly odd because I could feel my insides shifting I guess. It almost felt like my stomach was trying to fall off of my body yet at the same time there was a deep numb sensation. Add to that the fact that I can only go so far because of being tethered to the IV and having a tube running out of my privates to a bag also slowing me down, well it makes for an experience and feeling I would rather not have again.

That night though they gave me stool softeners and laxatives even though I have no food in my stomach they say it will help as the bowel awakens. While I may not have had food or anything like that in my bowels I found out that night that there is still some residue that will remain in there and it WILL start to come out as your bowel awakens more. This is where the embarrassment starts to set in. Thankfully they put absorbent bed liners under you because with the force of your farts as you sleep you will have some gunk come out. Since you have no real stomach contents you will be farting out a mucus like liquid. That night the nurse had to change my bedding 3 times and to wipe me off like I was a little baby. As you can imagine I was a bit embarrassed, but since the nurse was an older lady not nearly as much as I could have been, no that would come later.

The next day I spent time resting in a chair which is a big improvement over laying in the bed, this is all part of the Physical Therapy they want you to do. Do some walking a few times a day and then also do some sitting in normal chairs and recliners a few times so that you are moving around and not getting bed sores and such. Also the moving around is supposed to help wake up your bowels. On this day I had an actual person from the Physical Therapy floor come to my room unlike the day before when it was a tech of some sort who stayed on our floor. On this day it was a young woman who came into my room to start my actual physical therapy. This young lady was very beautiful and looked to be maybe 25 at her oldest. She got me out of bed and to the walker in my room and we went out for a walk down the hall. Now I want to mention here I am very happily married and love my wife to death but I am still a young man who greatly appreciates a beautiful young lady. So I was having a nice time walking down the hallway towards the nurses station, talking to the lovely young lady who was helping me when all of a sudden I felt a fart start to come. I paused in my walking because at that point I was still a bit unsteady on my feet and I was honestly afraid that with how powerful my farts had been the day before that if I farted I might throw myself off balance if I was in the middle of a step. So there I stood and let the gas out because the docs told me to and it was better than keeping it in. However the laxative and stool softeners from the night before were still quite active in me and I was still producing the slime like stuff that had messed up my bed the night before, but now that my bowel was more awake I produced more of it than I was the night before. The next thing I knew was a liquid feeling running down my leg and a sound as though someone went and spilled a glass of water on the floor. Without my wanting to when I farted my bowel had let loose anything that was in it. The Physical Therapist and the Tech from the day before cleaned up the hall, helped me finish my walk and then cleaned me up. I’m not sure off hand but I figure that my face was probably beat red during all of this, after all this was NOT the way I would have wanted the cute nurse to be taking care of me.

The thing is though they all told me this was normal. It doesn’t make it any less embarrassing but I want you guys to know incase you go through this as well that yes this happens. The next day a man around my age helped me on my walk and guess what didn’t happen that time. Thats right these things happen and usually only when you least want them to. It’s alright to be embarrassed by it too but don’t go thinking you’re the only one it happens to because I can guarantee that when the nurse tells you it happens all the time, it most likely does. These people have seen it all and you won’t be the first or last to empty your bowels on the hallway floor during a walk. So just remember you’re not in this alone and they are used to this sort of thing. Hopefully that will help you feel better about the awakening of your bowels.

Another good thing that came from that episode is that the doctors said it showed I was basically ready to move onto some good solid food and within a short time I was able to eat once more!

So once again cancer warriors remember:


8 thoughts on “Cancer Wars VII: The Bowel Awakens

  1. I never knew that about the bowel. That is very interesting and something I can see others overlooking. Good luck and keep your head up!

  2. The protective association is certainly amazing, and it’s a good example of how everyday drugs can have unexpected benefits, Excellent informative article and this information may indicator for cancer patient. Keep up your writing.


  4. Well, that’s exactly how It feels when you had surgery near abdominal region. My mom also had this surgery and had very long time in recovering. I shall pray for you to get well soon. 🙂

  5. Thank you for sharing this information, it was very interesting to read and I think for many people it will be useful article now or later. :)) I hope these days without water were not as bad as it sounds, also, I’m really happy that you are very strong and you can handle with everything. Stay strong!

  6. The time without water wasn’t horrible since I was hooked up to the IV’s…the worst part about it was that during the operation they have you on a breathing tube just incase. So when you wake up your throat is very raw feeling and your mouth is as dry as the desert…your lips are cracked and actually seem to be bleeding a little or something as I was peeling dark gunk off of them for a day. If they had just let me have a mouthful of water it wouldn’t have been too bad but if they had I most likely would have puked it all up. So the worst thing was how chapped and cracked my lips felt and a little sponge doesn’t really do much to help that.

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