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Recovery Time

Im in the process of scheduling surgery for an ilieostomy due to Ulcerative Colitis. In the words of my GI doc, my colon is rotten. Im hoping for an Iilieostomy with the option of a j-pouch later if Im not satisfied. Any suggestions, thoughts??? Also, how long before you were able to return to work? Im triage nurse and do alot of sitting so I'm hoping to return to work in 3 weeks. I know the medical recommendations but I want to to know from experiences! Thanks so mucch!

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Three weeks?!!!!! No way. It will take 6 months for a complete recovery. You should be off work at least 6 weeks but probably more. I didn't work yet when I had my surgery so someone here should have a better idea of the amount of time you are likely to be off. Don't push yourself you will have enough healling and adjusting to do. Please read the other posts about new surgeries and those from the new ostomates. They will give you a better idea of what to expect. I to had severy UC and had a proctocolectomy with ileostomy almost 30 years ago. Once you recover you will enjoy a new life. Keep posting and ask any questions you have.

Hugs,

Debbie

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Thanks for responding. Maybe three weeks in a dream world,huh? FinanciallyI need to be back to work in no more than 4 weeks.I currently hold down a 40 hr week job much to my GI's amazement so hopefully I can show how tough I really am :)

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Well you are certainly optimistic. That's a plus. I hope all goes well for you.

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I do not know what you are going to go through but I will be praying for you.
God bless you
Dolly

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Thanks all!! I need all the prayers I can get. Amazing how God gives you grace. Im actually excited to have the surgery done. Im ready to get my life back :)

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I think everybodies heal time is different depending onvthe individuals circumstances. I am retired so returning to work was not an issue. But realisticaly I would think 6 weeks. Maybe you can return part time for a few weeks before you return to full time status.

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I had my surgery in May. I was in the hospital for 34 days, though. I just went back to work 8/15. It has been hard financially because I had no leave time and didn't get paid while I was out of work, and I have no health insurance. Even though I had complications with my surgery, I really think you are dreaming if you think you'll be able to go back to work in a month.

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Let's be optomistic here and say you can return to work in four weeks. It's going to be tough. You'll be weak after surgery, far from your original self. In fact, you'll never be the same again. You'll get your strength back through. Full recovery takes from six months to a year.
I am retired and didn't have to worry about work but I don't think I would have been ready after four weeks. My surgery was March 12, 2012 and my ostomy nurse didn't discharge me until April 30. I might have been ready for work by then. I really don't know because I didn't have to think about it.
Take care of yourself. Be good to you. Do everything the surgeon tells you to do and you will be fine.
Blessings,
Alan

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I would say maybe 1/2 time week 5 & 6 at the most then increase from there Just my option

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Candi,

Since you work full-time, you should be eligible for medical leave of 12 weeks per year under the Family & Medical Leave Act. Perhaps you have used some of that up with the UC, but check with you HR department to see when your year starts. Some employers use a calendar year others use a rolling year. Employers with less than 50 employees do not have to comply but some do anyway. Perhaps you can schedule your surgery so that you will have the 12 weeks.

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In May after my colostomy surgery, both the nurses and surgeons were very specific about the healing process. And I should point out that I had no complications or dietary restrictions after the operation. First three weeks, complete rest with no lifting anything heavier than 10 pounds or a gallon of milk. They encouraged pain meds to allow for relaxation to aid healing the first week or so as needed. Doc said all food ingested would be used as fuel for healing, and I would probably lose about ten lbs. I did. During the second 3 weeks, I could GRADUALLY start getting back to regular activity, resting as needed, being mindful that my body would need more time. The weight lost was gained back. And I was told that after SIX weeks I could do whatever I wanted. For me it was 8 wks before I really felt energized and creative like I did before the surgery, and while I feel close to normal after three months, am still not 100%. Bottom line: three weeks to go back to work full time is too soon.
Not to sound negative, just realistic, it's one thing to recover from the pain and physical trauma of your belly being cut open and stapled back together, add to that getting used to dealing with a stoma! It is a steep learning curve with many ups and downs, some pain and tears, along the way. I know that finances are important, but taking good care of yourself must be the greatest priority after your operation.
My two cents, Cindy

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Cindy - I took a little longer to recover from my ileostomy for a perforated colon. I had about an 8 inch vertical incision with no stitches or staples! It took some time for that to heal, with the help of a wound care facility, and a home health nurse changing the dressing almost every day. Now I have a very ugly scar - I will never be able to wear a bikini - do they actually sell them to 80 year olds? LOL In addition to the ileostomy I also have a mucus stoma which I keep covered with just a 3 x 3 gauze pad, and a very large abdominal hernia since the surgeon had to sever my muscles to clean out 5 liters of septic "stuff" I had in my gut. He told my husband I only had a 50% chance of surviving the surgery because of that. But here I am - and plan to live with all of this for the rest of my life. I can still play golf (was back on the course in 3 months) and get around without a walker or wheelchair - so will not have any more surgery at my age.

Hugs from Marge

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Nurses are their own worst enemies. I should know as I have been a nurse for over 20 years! Returning to work 3 weeks after an ileostomy will be almost impossible.
My surgeon advised that I was not to lift anything heavier than a paper bag for at least 6 weeks. The chance of getting a hernia around the stoma is huge as it is a permanent weakness in the abdominal wall. It takes at least 6 - 8 weeks for the incision to heal and the muscles to knit together.
Your small intestine needs time to learn how to absorb nutrients and electrolytes therefore your nutrition is of utmost importance during this time so that you can heal in an optimum fashion.
Now I know that everyone recovers at a different pace but you need to be gentle with your body and mind so that you can learn to live with your new plumbing and with an appliance.
I have been a triage nurse and know that there are often long periods without a break (initially you will need to empty your pouch very frequently) and lots of physical action (taking vitals, helping pick up patients off the floor,) and tremendous emotional energy put into listening fully to each patient's story and triaging appropriately. Even though you say you will be sitting all day I'll bet that you put your whole self into your job.
I currently work in a post anaesthetic care unit and went back to work 12 weeks after my ileostomy. I have been doing a gradual return to work starting with 4 hour shifts and slowly increasing to 8 hour shifts. My Dr. does not want me to go back to full-time until November. I feel healthy and fit. I feel like I should be able to do full shifts but when I get home from 6 hours and need a nap I realize that I am still healing and my energy is not where I would like it to be.
Do not push yourself...you will only be slowing your own recovery and putting yourself at risk for complications.
I know how difficult it is to sit at home wishing you could be back doing the work that you love but believe me it is worth it in the long run.
Please keep us posted on how you are doing.

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Great post, lilymyiley. Sound and sensible advice.

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Everyone is different-- but 3 weeks seems to be too soon. My surgeon told me, three months to begin healing and becoming the new you. After that, "go for it" at a reasonable and sensible pace!!! About 6 weeks after surgery, things were improving and my endurance was increasing . Be very cautious and careful, you do not want a good solution to turn bad!!! Tuckersam

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