In August 2011, I had my panproctocolectomy surgery which left me with my permanent ileostomy, “Stacey Stoma”.
I was in and out of hospital before my surgery for many years but this was the first time I’d had bowel surgery, and it was major surgery, to say the least.
For me, surgery was long and complex and I nearly ended up losing my life, but despite that, I managed to escape hospital after around 7 days post-surgery. A lot of this time after my operation is a blur so this is definitely pieced together from what I can remember and from what my loved ones have told me.
What did you experience in hospital after your surgery?
After my surgery, everything seemed a bit of a blur, especially in the early days. We had trouble getting my pain under control for the first few days and my bowel sadly went to sleep from the trauma of the surgery, which came with faecal vomit (vomiting liquid poop). The medical term for your bowel going to sleep is called an ileus. These few days were incredibly tough and at the same, I didn’t see how I’d get through it.
With the support of my family, I got through it and a few days later my bowel thankfully started to wake up, along with my stoma. It was definitely painful throwing up after major abdominal surgery but rolling up a pillow and pressing this into my stomach when I threw up was suggested by the nurses to help give me support and this did help a little.
Once I started to walk around more, I found I started to feel better bit by bit and gravity definitely helped my bowels. Developing an ileus is very common after stoma surgery but not everyone gets this, so this isn't definite if you are reading this before stoma surgery. I would go through it all again in a heartbeat to feel how I do now, nearly 12 years post surgery.
What impacts how long you stay in hospital after surgery?
There is no set time period after surgery as everyone is so different and experiences recovery differently.
For some people, it can be a few days especially if key hole surgery whereas for others it could be 10 days, a few weeks or more, depending on recovery and if there are any complications. If you’ve had open surgery (had a midline incision), it will naturally take longer to recover.
Your stoma will more than likely be swollen and you may notice small amounts of blood in your bag. This is normal and you will wake up from surgery wearing a see-through bag so that your medical team can keep a close eye on it after surgery.
If you develop an infection, you will probably be treated with antibiotics and getting your ileostomy output under control may take some time if you are passing a lot of stool. It is normal for your ileostomy output to be unpredictable after stoma surgery but as time goes on, you will start to know what affects it more and what speeds it up, slows it down and affects the consistency.
How you were before surgery also impacts recovery time. I was really poorly before mine, so looking back, I actually did really well to get out of hospital when I did. Admittedly, I hate hospitals so I think my nagging to get home helped that!
What things can help make hospital a little easier?
With hospital being one of my least favourite places, I always find it vital to take some home comforts that can provide me with some reassurance and make things feel a little lighter.
These things include a blanket, my teddy, headphones and ear plugs (the beeps of the machines stayed in my head for weeks after hospital), face wipes, dry shampoo, a hair brush and multiple hair bobbles, slippers, a comfy pillow with my own pillow case on, aromatherapy spray and books.
Some people take handheld games consoles into hospital or an iPad but this is always done so at your own risk. Having an iPad in hospital has definitely helped me before with some downloaded games to play offline or downloaded episodes of programmes you’ve been wanting to watch!
The length of time you stay in hospital depends on multiple factors such as how you were before surgery, how your surgery went and post operative complications.
Your medical team will be able to work with you to help recommend things that can better your recovery to get you home in a time that they feel is best for you.
Please note that this is not medical advice and that it’s just from my own experience and research only. As always, if you have any medical questions or concerns, it’s always best to speak to a medical professional.
Until next time,