HEALTH UPDATE SEPTEMBER 2017 – En Route to my Second Surgery

After a few months of tirelessly waiting, I finally got a date for my second small bowel resection surgery. If you’ve been following along, I wrote about my previous health misfortunes this past summer in my last blog, HEALTH UPDATE JULY 2017. I am officially booked for a small bowel resection on October 13, 2017.

I had a colonoscopy three weeks ago (can’t say it was a lot of fun) and results showed no active inflammation! The main stricture, a buildup of scar tissue that is causing the obstructions, is 20-40cm up into the terminal ileum from the large intestine (colon). My Gastro was able to use a pediatric scope to get far enough into the ileum to examine the stricture. I was heavily sedated but I was still able to see the stricture for myself on the screen. The best way I could describe it, is my small intestine looked like a brown paper lunch bag that had been twisted at both ends with an aperture of only 1 cm. That is 1 cm of fixed diameter, which is an extremely small passageway for food to pass through. It’s no wonder, I can’t eat most vegetables, nuts, seeds, skins or red meat. Those foods just do not break down well enough to pass through that small of an opening.

On the positive side, I’ve been feeling slightly better with less pain but have been eating a very restricted diet in the meantime. I have temporarily had to put my career aspirations as a Geologist on-hold until I get this cleared up. I’ve had time to enjoy the summer but I am ready to get this out of the way and get back to normal.

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The Road to Recovery

I know a lot of you are probably wondering what the recovery time is for this type of procedure. If, when and will I make it back to where I was previously? Well that all depends on how invasive the surgery is. There is always a risk to any major medical procedure. Risks include, perforation of the intestine, leakages, infections, fissures, ruptures and buildup of additional scar tissue.

I have one specific area that has been identified through various MRI’s, ultrasounds, intestinal X-Rays and a scope. Even with numerous tests, none of these can get a perfect picture of what is going on higher up into the small intestine. If no inflammation is present, it is very difficult to see the severity through these tests. Colonoscopies or endoscopies, are the best procedure to tell what is going on internally without surgically performing a laparoscopy. Due to the narrowing of the small bowel, scopes are only capable of viewing about 20-40 cm into the ileum or the small bowel from the stomach.

It is not only my ileum affected by Crohn’s Disease, several other sections of small bowel are affected by my disease, so additional areas of scarring are very difficult to identify without getting in there with a laparoscope during surgery.

So the short answer is, if all goes well, 3-7 days in the hospital with 4-8 weeks of recovery, all depending on if there are additional areas of scar tissue that need attention. Assuming I am in good health and only the one section in my ileum is removed, 4 weeks is probably a reasonable estimate.

I’m not going to lie, it is always a little stressful going under the knife. I should probably be used to it by now; this will be my 5th surgery and second abdominal surgery. I am looking forward to get this out of the way so I can stop suffering from chronic pain and worrying about what I eat everyday. It is mentally exhausting having my life revolve around stressing about what I am going to eat that day. I have a surgeon I trust, and I am expected to make a full recovery without any noticeable deficiencies due to having a shorter small bowel.

I haven’t had a beef burger, steak or salad in over 5 years, so here’s to hoping I can enjoy some of my favourite foods again!

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