Life after Subtotal Colectomy

Hello all,
In May, I had a subtotal colectomy and also a rectocele repair (same day) and I am just wondering for those that have had this surgery, how are you doing now? How long did it take for you to eat regular again? or can you?
I have come through good from the surgery itself but can't eat much but soft foods. I am ok with it, but wondering if this will be a life long event or will I get back to somewhat normal?
Also, not that I drank alot, but what about having a glass of wine?
and yes, I could ask my doctor, but he is not very communicative. Told me I could eat regular food while I was still in the hospital and there was absolutely no way. Thanks for any input!

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Hi! I had a subtotal colectomy many years ago as a result of a redundant bowel and chronic intestinal pseudoobstruction. I mention that because it depends upon the underlying problem(s) as to how your life will be effected. I know people who have had their entire large bowel removed and they were eating normally within a few months, although they have some form of dumping syndrome so they are having to use the bathroom soon after eating. There are also foods that will probably be problematic: fatty foods, highly seasoned foods, milk produces, etc. Your body will let you know. Of course, there will be post-op time that will limit your diet until your body has recovered from the shock (abt 2 months.) In my case, I am on TPN and have malabsorption but that is probably more to do with CIP since I had the same problem prior to the surgery. I still eat but more for social reasons than it providing nourishment. It took a long while for me to recover but I have learned my limits and know that if I "cheat" on my diet I will probably get sick, i.e., distended, nauseous, vomit, etc. It depends also if I am going to be home or if I am in public if I fool around with questionable foods. You will probably find that you will need to be very aware of your fluid intake if you experience frequent diarrhea because dehydration is common with short bowel syndrome. One trick that I learned was to use Metamucil and Benefiber to create more bulk since without a bowel your output will be very loose. Wine may cause you to have diarrhea. I usually have a glass of wine in the afternoon with some cheese and crackers and the worst I get is diarrhea, but I always have diarrhea, it's just a matter of degrees. I get the same reaction from grape juice. My advice would be to experiment when you will be home all day so that you won't be placed in an awkward situation while you try out different foods. You may find that some days you can eat something w/o a problem and then another day eating the same thing will react differently. You may want to keep a food journal for a while. Has your doctor suggested blood work (CBC) to follow you for a while to check for anemia? If not, you may want to ask about that, at least for a while. I hope I have been of some help. I hope your transition back into your "normal" life will be with as few bumps as possible. Judi

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Thank you for replying to me. You were gracious enough to share your experience and I appreciate that. I am sorry that you have CIP. I looked it up as I didn't know what it was. I had slow transit colon, that is why I had the surgery and I am so happy to have had it. It has improved my life tremendously. I can deal with eating only certain foods right now and having many bathroom breaks, it's better than the life before. Just like you said, I have listened to my body and if it sounds right, I will try it but I have also paid the price when I have tried some foods and I won't do that again, at least for quite awhile. Thanks for the Metamucil tip. I have found the hardest thing is going anywhere far from home and eating because I never know if I will go to the bathroom right away or an hour later and it is always diarrhea still. So....and also, I had blood work done because I take potassium pills and I wanted to make sure I am not losing too much and it was ok. They just checked my iron yesterday and while it was low, it is still within range, so I am good on that. Thank you so much. I wish the best for you too,

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