11/11/13 - ER Visit - Ten Pounds of Poop in a Five Pound Bag

READ AT YOUR OWN RISK - Bowel Discussion

Before starting my chemo I did a lot of research on how it can affect the digestive tract. I discovered that healthy people can really have a difficult time. My biggest fear of chemo was how it would affect many things - my incisional hernia, my reconstruction on the "business end" and my hemorrhoids.  I was also afraid of a new infection of necrotizing fasciitis. It's funny how fears from past events can wreak so much havoc on rational decisions.

I had my last chemo on Monday, November 4th and I was so hopeful that my side effects would be minimal. After all, I did have a whole extra week of recuperation by skipping a chemo. I thought that would give my body the extra boost it needed to combat side effects.  I seem to forget that these side effects are cumulative. I was doing pretty well until Wednesday - that always seems to be the worst day for me. After the Neulasta shot , the come down from the steroid and the start of Cipro, my body rebels. This cycle followed the same pattern but there was one difference. I've always had the severe constipation but with this chemo, nothing was moving. It was like pouring cement into my bowels.

Ready to Bounce Back

Early Thursday morning at around three a.m. I noticed a protrusion from my stomach in the area of my incisional hernia. I was also experiencing pain and cramps. At that point it had been almost four days since I had a bowel movement. Three a.m. is not a good time to discover something like that - all kinds of horrible thoughts go through your head - at least my head. I was convinced that my hernia had strangulated, they were going to rush me into emergency surgery and because my blood counts were down, I would develop necrotizing fasciitis again. Poor Bud. I woke him up and he had to deal with the hysterical nut case he calls his wife. As usual, he was calm and patient. Because we aren't doctors, we really couldn't determine why it was there. He wanted to take me to the emergency room, but my irrational fear took over - so I waited it out. Friday and Saturday rolled around and I was getting progressively more uncomfortable. No bowel movement - not even a hint that I could go. By this time I was exhausted mentally and physically and because I thought my hernia could strangulate, I would only eat very small amounts of food which was contributing to my decline. Robyn was leaving early  Sunday morning and I didn't want her last day in town to be spent in the emergency room (good excuse not to go in, huh?). Sunday came along and I knew it was time to call the doctor. I called the infusion line and explained the problem and got the answer I knew was coming - go to the emergency room. So off Bud and I went for another trip to the puking, germ laden ER. The nurse screened me over the phone so they knew I was coming. The staff got me in right away and even gave me a private room - one of the perks of possible low blood counts. I got a wonderful nurse and they took blood right away - as expected, my counts were way down. First thing the doctor ordered was an x-ray of my abdomen. He said my hernia looked fine with no evidence of strangulation - whew! Now here is the gross part - he said I was filled with poo. Ya think? After a week of not going, that makes perfect sense. It's not that I didn't think that could be a possibility. Bud and I did have a discussion regarding the protrusion being something other than a strangulated hernia. But crazy cancer girl knew otherwise. Now comes the part where I feel like a fool for waiting so long to go in and have it checked. It's amazing what fear can do to a person. They kept me long enough to give me a bag of saline. My magnesium and potassium numbers were down and the nurse gave me an oral dose of magnesium. That was kind of yucky, but she also gave me a juice chaser which was yummy. The doctor prescribed the same meds they use when you have to clear your bowels for a colonoscopy. I knew then it was going to be  fun filled night. Without going in to unneeded details, I spent the whole night palling around with the porcelain god. Needless to say, by the time I woke up this morning, I was exhausted. My intestines
are so sore it feels like I had abdominal surgery. Between that and the cumulative side effects of the chemo, I feel like the walking dead. I guess I shouldn't complain - at least I only had a bowel obstruction and not a perforated bowel or strangulated hernia. The best part is I didn't have to go in for emergency surgery, I didn't have to have a colostomy and I didn't contract NF. I'm such a loon. Although, I am in a lot more pain today than when I was in the ER, which makes me wonder if the colon cleansing did something to my bowels or hernia which in turn would necessitate surgery, risking infection. Welcome to my brain - it's a never ending thought process - wackadoo, wackadoo - a vicious cycle :)

That was my excitement for the week. Thanks for checking on me.


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