Bowel Issues After Cancer Treatment

Well what a couple of months I’ve had! Apologises for not replying to people on my previous post, all will be revealed as to why on this post.

My previous post was discussing that I had an abscess sitting in between my bowel and womb. There was also a fistula found right next to it, again going from my bowel to my womb. This all happened in October/November time. As you can probably imagine it really wasn’t nice to be going to the toilet and wiping away faecal matter from the front end, plus the smell was just awful. I had also been in alot of pain, most likely caused by the abscess but after a two week stay in hospital back in October, my cocktail of pain relief drugs was finally sorted out and I was relatively pain free most of the time. Unfortunately due to the positioning of the abscess and the high amount of internal inflammation the surgeons were not able to drain it at that point.

After conversations with my consultant team and the surgical team, along with a couple more CT and MRI scans, it was decided that I would be booked in for surgery in January, a temporary stoma would be put in, basically in order for all the inflammation inside to calm down and for the fistula to either close up itself or for the surgeons to do the repairs at a later date, the abscess would also be able to be drained by then and then the stoma could be put back inside and my bowel reattached to normal. It was sounding like a plan.

However, on 9th December my body decided to take matters into its own hands and not for the better. During that day I experienced a sudden bout of excruciating pain which would not go away despite much pain relief taken. Rung the hospital, described my symptoms and they told me to come in. That evening whilst in hospital the surgical team came to see me and it turns out the pain I had experienced earlier that day was my internal abscess bursting and perforating part of my bowel along the way. I was told that I would be having emergency surgery to check the state of my bowel and attempt to repair, having a stoma put in and would be remaining in hospital for around 2 weeks. I was obviously very scared but signed the consent form due to being in so much pain. The surgery itself turned out to be more complicated as when the abscess burst, all the infected pus had basically gone everywhere and I had developed sepsis. They had to completely open me up and was out all of the infected pus and debris from inside me before they could even start on repairs. Should have been a 2 hour operation, I was in for 6 hours. I was not woken up afterwards, I was intubated as they almost lost me during the operation. I was intubated for almost 48 hours afterwards, they said it could be touch and go to my husband and parents. Those words still haunt me to this day, knowing I very nearly died.

When they woke me up and I had come around which took another day and half I was told what had happened. They had successfully put a stoma in but could not make any repairs due to the very high inflammation inside me. The stoma was still a temporary one though and the future plan is to have it reattached to my bowel in around 12 months time and do any repairs if needed to my bowel and fistula as they may repair themselves during that time. I am still to have regular scans to check my cancer status and to check my bowel and surrounding area. I was told that all of this had been caused my the radiotherapy I had gone through 6 months prior. As it is a very rare thing to happen, it was never flagged up as a possible side effect. Regardless I still would have gone ahead with the treatment but it would have been nice to know, even if rare.

I was in immense pain after the op, spent a total of 5 on on the ICU department before being transferred to a post op ward. I have a huge incision going from just under my breasts all the way down to my public area. I had 4 drains in too. I was discharged 5 days before Christmas. I have had lots of support regarding my new stoma bag and I’m managing it fine. Can’t say it was exactly what I wanted but the truth it this stoma bag probably saved my life.

I’m now 3 weeks post op at home, still in pain which is to be expected after having major surgery but the pain meds are working and I’m sure as I continue to recover and get stronger the pain will lessen. I’m feeling quite positive about the future, along with being a little apprehensive. I’m terrified of getting another infection, which I suppose is to be expected. So as we get to the end of this truly horrible year, for me anyway, I’m looking forward to 2023 and am hopeful that things can only get better from now.

Sending lots of love and well wishes to my fellow cancer warriors and hope you all have a great, positive New Year xxx

5 Likes

You have been through so much, I can’t even begin to imagine how hard it must have been for you, but it looks like you are very strong, you’re an inspiration.

Prayers for your full recovery and for you to have the best year!! Hugs!

1 Like

Wow what an awful time you have been through,it sounds so scary,here’s to 2023 and a full recovery for you :kissing_heart: x

1 Like

OMG Carly, I can’t believe what you’ve been through, props to you for getting through all that!

1 Like

To update… I was taken back into my cancer hospital on New Year’s Day, I have another infection and another abscess has been found within my womb. Been back on IV antibiotics, IV fluids and lots of pain relief. My pregablin has now been increased from 150mg twice a day to 225mg twice a day and my oramorph has also gone up. Looking like I’m going to be sent home next week on long term antibiotics to hopefully prevent me from getting further infections. Still have a long way to go overall as waiting for all of the inflammation to settle down inside, which will take a good few months. At that point further surgery will be discussed. I’m sat here feeling fed up at being in hospital again and feeling like we’re back to square one. Honestly guys, this is a very rare occurrence that can happen after abdominal radiotherapy treatment and I would always actively encourage anybody to have the treatment, despite my issues I’ve had afterwards. However, this is also a reality of it and whilst extremely rare, can happen and I thought it was important to let others know as you never get warned of these potential issues during the start of your treatment. If anybody feels like replying back to cheer me up then it would be lovely to hear from you xxx

1 Like

Amazing stay strong your story is inspirational to all x

1 Like

You really are so strong to tell your story here, I’m amazed by your optimism, it is very inspirational to me indeed. I too have found that doctors rarely acknowledge even, let alone caution us about long term side effects. I am pleased to hear that at least you have received proper care and I’m sure you’ll get rid of the infection once and for all. I wish you a speedy recovery and thank you once again for your courage.

2 Likes

Hi guys, thank you for the lovely reply messages. I was discharged home yesterday on long term antibiotics to continue to get rid of the infection I went in for, plus to help to prevent further infections from occurring. Still not 100% but have been told it could take a while. I’m absolutely wiped out by everything. To top it off, I’ve been vomiting a bright yellow acid bile the last few days. The hospital didn’t seem too concerned as its not constant. I’ve been looking online to try to get some ideas for changing my diet to help with the gastric acid and also to help with regulating my bowel and stoma. One clear thing that has come out is to forget big meals and have small meals throughout the day. So will be trying this to see if it makes any difference. Who knows, it may even help to restore my energy levels as at the moment I feel like I’ve been hit by a bus, more than once. I will update again, if people would still be interested to know as the next few days and weeks go by. I have follow up appointments with my bowel surgeon at the end of this month, so hopefully there will be a future plan in place and above all else, that no further complications arise. Keep fighting my fellow warriors, we are all amazing, no matter where our journey is taking us. Sending love and positive thoughts xxx

2 Likes