It’s been a long ride… and still nowhere near the end

2011 had been a year to forget as far as my health is concern. After the shocker of 2010, I was expecting 2011 to be the year when I finally made a comeback from my cancer-shock. But it was not to be.

Since then, I been experiencing one health hiccup after another. I had a total of 3 major operations, several minor ones and as of now, I am still wearing a stoma bag and my problem in my buttock still a big issue for me.

The more experience I have now with my health issues the better the understanding I am now getting regarding my problem. I believe now that since my first operation until now, I had been having a serious Abscess problem in my rectum region. This problem was never targeted till very much later when I noticed I kept having the feeling of diarrhea when I had a stoma reversal after my 2nd major operation.

In the 3rd operation, when I had the ‘Bowel Obstruction’, Dr. Tay had to create an Ileostomy again. So now I am back on the Stoma bag again. The purpose this time was to give time for the Abscess to self-heal so the colon is blocked to prevent waste material to getting into contact with the abscess and create more problems. I now believe that when I had the inflammation during the 3rd Op, it was deal to the abscess spreading to my intestine.

I had done much research on the web regarding ‘Anorectal Abscess’, and what I had read so far doesn’t sound good. In most reports, it mentioned that Self-healing is hard and in most cases, a major surgery is required to eliminate the abscess. I really hope not for I really cannot bear going in again for another operation.

But I really want this to clear so that I can have the stoma reversal and have my life back again. My stoma discharges are so frequent and it really makes life so difficult for me. I had to be close to a toilet at all times. I cannot wear nice clothes and I cannot expose my body.

There are 3 majors issues still.

1. Getting rid of the abscess in my rectum and not having to feel that I need to go toilet all the time.

2. Having a stoma reversal so that life can be back to normal. Not having to wear stoma base & bag. Most important not needing to be near a toilet all the time and not needing to worry that I expose the bag or the bag leaks like what had happened twice already.

3. Getting rid of the barium that are still residing in my colon.

 

 

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10 months past and still no sign of returning to a normal

It’s been a long while since my last update. Sadly, I do not have anything good to highlight regarding my medical condition. Since the Resection & the liver operation, I still not been able to take control of my bowel.

Having to wear adult diapers whenever I am out of my house is bad enough but even at home I had to wear woman’s tampons in case of discharge.

During the last few months, since June or so, my discomfort in the rectum region had gotten worse. Until today, I am still discharging lots of mucus whenever I visit the toilet. At times, there are even blood in the mucus. I read somewhere that cancer cells feeds on our mucus discharge. I just hope this is not true.

I am finding it harder and harder to push out my poo and even then it is not always I got poo. It is so hard to push whatever little poo out of my system and now even my buttocks & thighs are beginning to feel painful & I do have cramps there.

There are also blockages in my small intestine due to adhesions and this had mainly been the reason why I am having diarrhea all the time. The trapped waste in my small intestine are contaminated with bad bacteria that creates lots of gas in my intestine and also competing with my body for proteins and other good nutrients. I am losing so much weight because these bad bacteria are getting a main share of my nutrients. I used to weight around 66kg but now I am hovering around at 48kg.

The blockage cause my abdomen to be bloated and cramps too. When it comes, I just cannot do anything at all.

Recently did a CEA blood test and CT scan and no cancer was found. But Dr. Tay, my colon surgeon is concern about the discomfort in my rectum region. During the last colonscopy conducted in Dec 2010, my rectum was clean. The CT scan report indicated that there was some thickening in my rectum tissues and the report mentioned, it could be a recurrence. Further investigations advised.

Dr. Tay does not suspect it is a recurrence, but instead he thinks it is the result of the radiotherapy treatment that I had in May 2010. I will be going for a MRI scan this week and also another round of colonscopy this Saturday morning . Hopefully with these 2 tests, Dr. Tay will be in better position to plan for my next cause of action to get me back to my feet again. It is almost 2 years and I still had not regain my quality of life.

 

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Just an update on my current situation…

At the beginning of 2011, I was eagerly looking ahead to a wonderful year. With the completion of my chemo treatments & stoma reversal operation, I expected my body to regain normalcy as soon as possible. I was even dreaming about doing some traveling with my wife.

It’s already April. and any sign of normal life seems far-fetched. I reached the stage whereby being in close proximity to a toilet is my ultimate comfort zone. Planning any outing in advance is out of the question. I got my good & bad BM days to consider. But of course, if we meet in the loo, who cares whether the day is good or bad.

I had lost so much weight since November 2010. Due to the constant severe diarrhea and my body not digesting & converting my food intake to it’s nutrients elements, I’m looking more like an Auschwitz inmate.

Before I realized I had cancer, I gave away lots of old jeans, pants, shirts, T-shirts that were too small to the Salvation Army. Now I wish I still had them for what I had now are all too big for me and I need to use a belt to keep my pants up. I don’t even want to look at myself in the mirror.

In the past, I always enjoyed eating all types of food. But now, with my erratic BM, I had to be very careful what I put into my body. The wrong food would trigger a severe bout of diarrhea. When it comes, I just had to make sure I am at home and close to the loo at all times.

I checked my weight and was shocked I am around 55kg. It means I had lost more than 10kg since my last operation. For more than 2 months, my bowel felt like constantly in a diarrhea-state. I hardly had a day where by bowel seems normal.

Eating a wrong food will immediately trigger a severe diarrhea attack. Once that happens, my entire day is ruined. I am at a lost as to why my intestine/colon doesn’t seem to be able to digest the food I consume properly. I am taking Lactoguard (Restores the balance of Good bacteria for overall digestive, immunity & energy), Acidophilus tabletsĀ  and also digestive enzymes tablets on a daily basis, but yet I will still getting severe diarrhea almost every 3 or 4 days. At times, when the diarrhea is so severe, I had to end up swallowing 6 charcoal pills. I tried my best to avoid charcoal for it absorbs everything, including my supplements which I take everyday.

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Still far from Perfect…

It has been more than 4 months since I had my stoma reversal operation. Till now, my bowel movements is still very erratic and unpredictable. I got my good days but so far they been mainly bad days.

Since my colon was re-connected to my Intestine, I been averaging around 20 – 30 visits to the loo per day to move my bowels. On days when I do not have diarrhea, it’s not so bad. But it is really amazing how much stools I had inside me. Since my rectum is so much smaller after the removal of the tumor, what remains is not able to hold a lot of stools. So, whenever my stools reaches my rectum, a signal is immediately send to my brain to get me to BM as soon as possible. (That’s why I need to be in close proximity to a loo at all times)

I do have constipation days & diarrhea days. During constipation days, I can visit the loo many times but there is nothing discharge accept the occasional mucus. But the worse is those days when I am having diarrhea. I can visit the loo so many times but always end up feeling that it is not complete. During diarrhea days, my butt also feels so painful and I feel burn in the anal region.

Until now, I still do not know what trigger my diarrhea or constipation. But it must certainly be due to what I eat and drink. I really do not know what food is causing my problem. Since 25 March 2011, I had started an Excel spreadsheet to record what I consume each morning, afternoon & evening. I also keep tag of what medication I took each day, how my BM reacted during each part of the day and whether I had diarrhea, constipation or cramps in my abdomen.

Hopefully with this daily record, I be able to pinpoint what food is causing my excessive BM, diarrhea or constipation.

I also started having abdominal cramps off and on. The first time I felt the cramps was on 25 Feb 2011. When it comes, it is so painful. I had to lie down flat. Since I am now back to work, this is very difficult for me as my job requires me to sit down in front of the computer. Recently, I had abdominal cramps in the office and it was so severe, I just bear with the pain till the end of the work day. Dr. Tay had given me some painkiller to ease the pain. Initially, when I first had the cramps, popping a painkiller works wonder, but lately when the drug did not seem to work as well. Could it be my body had started to reject the drug?

I started taking Loperamide (Imodium), 3 times a day and also 2 sachets of Fybogel. The Loperamide does helps with the diarrhea and the Fybogel prevents constipation but end up with lots of stools being discharge during my BM.

But even then, I still have my diarrhea days. I hope soon I be able to pinpoint what food is causing my problem. My current situation really affecting my quality of life. Planning to do something with friends is not easy for I never know on that day whether it will be a good BM day or bad BM day.

I had 2 X-Rays taken of my abdominal region. Dr. Tay saw lots of gas being trapped in my intestine and suspect they are also blockages due to food consumed and not absorbed by my digestive system. Dr. Tay wanted me to cut down on vegetables, fruits with skins and also mushrooms. Since then I hardly been eating any vegetables and fruits except in juiced form.

Will be seeing Dr. Tay on 2 April. Hope there is a solution to my problems soon.

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A New Year, A New Start…

Happy Lunar New Year to one & all. I hope that the Year of the Rabbit will be a happy & healthy year for everyone including myself.

Now that I had completed my cancer treatments, it is all up to me to maintain my health. Ensuring I eat well and limiting my craving for non-healthy food. I had to keep taking my regular supply of supplements and take up some form of exercises. To top it all up, I must remain stress-free.

Seems easy but to be frank, it is not what you might think. At the back of my mind, I am constantly worrying that the cancer might run wild again. The next few years will be very critical for me.

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Controlling my BM is the key…

Since my last surgery on 11 Nov 2010, my biggest concern had been the way my bowel movements will react in the future. I had to add that since then I not had a peaceful day with my bowel.

Initially, after the Stoma Reversal surgery, when my Colon started to function, I had constant non-stop diarrhea which lasted for a few weeks. That period was really very discomforting for me. I had to literally position myself close to the toilet at all times. I did not count the number of visits to the toilet during this period but I am sure it was more than 30 times per day.

Things got worse after I started my last Chemo cycle on 14 Dec 2010. All the side-effects of chemo came back. I had nausea, diarrhea, faint spells, loss of appetite, lost the sense of taste, giddy, weak and during this period I started losing lots of weight. The diarrhea was very bad and I had to go to the toilet non-stop during the chemo cycle. I had a miserable Christmas and New Year because of my diarrhea.
When I took Fybogel, my stools finally started to form but then it end up I was discharging stools from dawn to dusk. In the end I decided to stop taking it. Things only started to improve around 20 Jan 2011.

I started to wear my underwear again without diapers. In fact I intend to return back to work on 27 Jan 2011.

It is really good to be able to control my BM again and I am glad I can hold my stools….

 

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Towards the end, the worse side effects…

On 14 Dec 2010, I started on my last Chemo treatment at JHC. I was expecting this cycle to be just like the other 7 cycles that I gone through so far. Instead it turned out to be the most discomforting cycle of them all. Since I started on the oral tablets (Xeloda) for cycle 8, I had been suffering from Fainting spells, loss of appetite, lost of taste, nausea, giddy spells, unstable on my feet and severe diarrhea.

According to Dr. Tay, since half of my liver was removed, it was expected I have faint and giddy spells since I had lost so much blood. This cycle turned out to be the worse of all 8 but looking back, the reason why I did not felt some of the symptoms in the past was because I was wearing a stoma bag so nothing pass through my colon. Whether I was having diarrhea, I did not felt at all. So, in the way I was lucky that for 7 cycles I had the stoma bag, if not I wonder how I could had cope with constant diarrhea for the past 7 months.

Previously, the anti-nausea pills works wonders for me and I was able to regain my appetite in the middle of each chemo cycle but this time it just did not work at all.

I took my last Xeloda tablets on 28 Dec 2010 and now I just hope to regain my appetite, control my bowels and eradicate the diarrhea and I should be back on the road to full recovery.

 

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