My reversal of ileostomy surgery was something I had been looking forward to for a long time. Because of the bowel obstruction, and then the resection surgery, I had to have an ileostomy performed. I would have the ileostomy for 6 months, while going through chemotherapy and radiation treatment. This was the most annoying and inconvenient part of my cancer treatment.
While I had the ileostomy, I had to always be close to a bathroom. It’s important to empty the ostomy bag when it’s no more than 1/3 full. Otherwise, the weight can pull the bag of, exposing the stoma (the piece sticking out of the skin) and causing a huge mess. Dealing with this was very difficult, because you had to put everything on just right, or the pieces wouldn’t stick.
The wound nurse at the hospital told me that, as soon as I got it all figured out, it would be time for a reversal of ileostomy procedure. She was right. I became a pro afer about 5 months, and now, after 6 months, it was time to have my digestive system put back to normal.
When it came to the day of the surgery, I arrived at the hospital around 6am, was admitted, then taken to general surgery. My mother and one of my brothers had come with me to the hospital, and would wait while I had the procedure. One of the surgery nurses came and took me to surgery prep to start an IV, and get me ready for the reversal of ileostomy surgery.
After the IV was placed, the nurse went to get my mother, who sat with me while I was being prepared for the operation. I had to sign consent forms, to give them permission to do the surgery. First, the anesthesiologist and his team came by to explain their part, and have me sign permission forms for that part of the procedure.
Then, one of the members of the surgical team came by and had me sign papers. He told me jokingly that, if I wanted too, I could keep the ileostomy as it was. I laughed and said. “No, no no. I’ve actually been looking forward to this.”
Then, the surgeon in charge came by to talk to me. He was the same surgeon who performed the bowel resection and ileostomy, and would be the same one to reverse it.
After about an hour or so, I was taken to the operating table. It’s funny how anesthesia works, because you don’t realize when you fall asleep. The aneshesiologist puts a mask over your face, and before you know it, you’re awake in the recovery room.
My mother met me in recovery, and sat with me while I waited for my room to be ready. When a “reversal of ileostomy” is performed, they typically have the patient stay for a day or more, to make sure everything is working properly. You are actually able to start eating later that same day, which may seen odd, unless you understand how the digestive system works.
Everything that goes through the small intestine is already liquified by the stomach. Since the only internal stitching was reconnecting the end of the small intestine (the ileum) to the large intestine (colon), it would not take much time for that part of the surgery to heal.
What would take longer was the hole where the ileum stuck out of the body. That would take a few weeks to heel completely. It was packed with gauze, and stitched with reinforced heavy stitching. Then, a dressing was placed over the area. One of the surgeons would come by a few times during my 4 day stay, to check on me. The first time was on my second day, when he unpacked the wound, and changed the dressing. The second time was after I had eaten, to see if my body was doing it’s normal duties yet.
I’m going to get a bit graphic here. The first time I did my duty, it was very runny. This is typical, because the body is getting used to doing things normally again. By the fourth day, I was pretty much back to normal. It’s funny how such an important bodily process is taken for granted, until your body hasn’t done it for awhile.
I went home the fourth day, then went to see my surgeon a few days after so he could check how I was doing. I had the stitches removed a few weeks after, and now I just have a small scar on the right side of my stomach. The wound healed up nicely, and my body is completely back to doing what it’s supposed to do.
That was it for the procedure. This was a surgery I looked forward to, because it meant not having to deal with leaking ostomy bags, or other issues that often occur when dealing with an ileostomy. In my next post, I’ll talk about having the Ommaya port removed. For now, I am glad to have finally gone through, and completed, my reversal of ileostomy surgery.