Sunday, February 16, 2014

A Bump in the Recovery Road

I am now nearly 5 months post-surgery and things have been going reasonably well.  I am back to work but don’t have nearly the stamina I had pre-surgery.  After 5 days of working, I am very tired.  In the past month, I’ve had 2 incidences of severe abdominal pain.  It starts feeling like I was kicked in the stomach, then goes into severe pain with what feels like contractions or spasms.  The first time it happened, it was on a Friday night and I took a tramadol (pain killer). That helped me to sleep and I felt fine in the morning.  The second time was on Super Bowl Sunday and no, I was not eating tons of fatty foods and drinking beer!  It started the same way with the kicked in the stomach feeling, then went to contractions.  I did not take a tramadol until after the Super Bowl ended because I was trying to watch it.  I did take the tramadol around 10:30 pm but that time it did not help me get to sleep.  At about 3:00 am, I was vomiting and still in severe pain.  The next morning I went in to see my primary care physician and he said that I might have had my bowel kink and then unkink – that can cause this type of pain.  He said he did not think that I was having an obstruction at that time and if I were, I would be quite bloated.  I started to feel better later in the day on Monday.  I messaged my oncologist and she said that the nurse practitioner would talk to me about it when I came in on Thursday February 13th

At my appointment, the nurse practitioner explained that this type of pain can come from a bowel surgery.  She said it could have been a “kinked bowel” or partial obstruction but did not know for sure.  She said that if it happens again, I should get to a radiology facility and get a KUB which stands for kidney, ureter, bladder.  A KUB is an x-ray of the chest and lower abdomen and is used to detect bowel obstructions.  I didn’t get the impression that even if they knew exactly what the problem was, that there was a good solution for it.  Nonetheless, I’ll ask my primary care physician how I might get a KUB quickly, should I need one.  I would prefer not to go to the emergency room because the wait would be long and who knows what else they would do besides a KUB.  Anyway, this really threw me off as I have had a pretty painless recuperation until now.  I’ve already used two sick days for abdominal issues and at this rate I’ll be out of days well before year-end.  I’m hoping this doesn’t happen again but I don’t know what I can do to avoid it or mitigate the pain since I don’t know exactly what is going on.  Some other patients have suggested taking fish oil or drinking coke syrup when it starts to hurt.  I asked the nurse practitioner about this and she said that she had not heard that these things work but there is no harm it trying it if I want to. 

Because of these abdominal issues and the fact that I was not eating much for a day or two after each event, I lost another 2+ pounds this month.  I was hoping to get my weight stabilized to I could figure out what size I will be but now my “new” clothes are getting a bit loose on me.  Oh well, that is a minor issue relative to the pain.  I’m hoping that this is not going to be a recurring problem.