Reversal Recovery: Pain, Constipation, and Unexpected Surprises


Well, that was a tad unpleasant!

I had my reversal on the 15th November and today is the first day I have felt anywhere near okay.
There has been a lot of pain and a lot of constipation. I have so far not trusted a fart and for good reason.
I have worked out that if I take around 7 ml of lactulose morning and evening, I can manage a poo, but without it, I am unable to push anything out. If I take the stated 15 ml, then I am in agony for the whole experience.
The worst pain is the incisional hernia repair, which was fixed with mesh 12 inches by 9 inches. It was a large hernia. He has managed to tuck a lot of it back in, but I will never have the flat tummy I did 2 years ago.
I have a large amount of Novo mini caps which I now don't need. They are very handy for swimming or intimate times. I used them for my regular bag.
If you would like some, let me know and I will send (just send me the stamps/postage)

Things I did not expect:
Waking from the op with a tube up my bum and 2 stitches holding it in. Very painful.
A tubigrip bandage around my tummy which needs to be here for 3 months.
Swift recovery time.
Not being able to get control back more quickly.
Waking up with a tube down my nose and into my tummy, very unpleasant.
Having a large drain pulled out of my side when various bits of me were stuck on it. Felt like being disemboweled, and nice for visitors to hear the screams.
Funny thing, pain. When it is over, it is all forgotten.
At some stage, I am sure I will be pleased I have had my reversal, but right now is not that day.
Sunny x


Oh, you poor woman!! My thoughts and prayers are with you! Hang in there!! Though I've never had a reversal, can't due to fistulas, I have had many surgeries and what you described above brings them all back. I feel for you!! Your strength will pull you through this.

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You sound like you have been through the mill and back, I feel your pain and discomfort. You can only take one day at a time, and what you said, things are pretty uncomfortable right now. I haven't had a reversal, but I have had many times of pain and discomfort and now an ileostomy for life. I don't think you ever forget the pain and discomfort, but life gets easier as time goes on. My thoughts and prayers are with you. Take care, Ambies.


Well, I am scheduled for a colostomy reversal on 12/27/2011, and I am pretty anxious/scared about the whole ordeal. I hope and pray for your speedy recovery. Did the doctor say why you had the tube in your bum? Or the G-tube in your nose? I can relate to the drain being pulled, when I had my last surgery #2, the surgeon pulled my drain out with no extra pain meds or anything, and I could only relate it to feeling like my guts being pulled out. I just want to see if your tubing was specific to your case or if it is something I should expect. I know I will have another drain as well, from where the stoma was removed, but I am not sure about the other tubes.

Past Member

Oh, you poor woman!! My heart goes out to you. But here's hoping now you're home that your recovery will be swift. I know it hasn't been easy, but you have the worst over now and you can concentrate on getting better! Am awaiting my already postponed reversal on the 22nd of next month but not having the hernia repair until later. My surgeon advised that it may be too much at once, so am going to trust him on that. Was hoping to be fairly with it by Christmas Day, but I guess I shouldn't be that optimistic, right?
Here's wishing you well over the next few weeks. Take good care, Colm

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((Hugs)) Oh, I am so sorry that you are in so much pain and frustration. Thank you so much for taking the time to provide an update. There seem to be many awaiting reversals, and your message helps more than you know. Good and bad... I, for one, want to read it all! I, too, am curious about the tubes and tummy bandages. Doc never mentioned having a tube stitched to my rectum during recovery. I have an appointment this afternoon and definitely plan to bring it up!

My best wishes to you that each day relieves your pain and brings back your sunny disposition.
Take care,


Hi standard tubes are down the throat as they need to keep the stomach empty and deflated, also the bum tube is stitched in at the groin, and needs to be there to prevent pressure on the joint if you have a poo post-op. My tube was put in the wrong way round as one end has lots of small holes in it for the poo to filter into so it was useless anyway. You will need drains in, the amount will be determined by the surgery, I had 2 small ones which did not hurt at all when they were removed and one half centimeter one which was the painful one. If I had it again I would ask to pull it out myself. It helps to twist side to side gently before extracting, the nurse seemed clueless to this and it was the most pain I have ever experienced. The tubes were there for 3 days.
Thanks for your support. Today I had a poo without the laxatives and feeling a bit better, going home on my own as I have been staying with my parents, which is fine but has its own stresses and strains!
Good luck xx


Hi Colin,
My surgeon told me that he wasn't going to repair the hernia, or just do a basic repair as it would be too much and I was promised a tummy tuck in 6 months. When I woke, he said there was no way the hernia was repairable using just sutures and he used a massive dinner plate-sized mesh to close it. And now it looks like I don't get my tummy tuck.
Perhaps revisit the idea with him and ask about the possibility of using pig protein as that is never rejected, as going through 2 surgeries is so stressful for mind and body.
Good luck.
And thanks for your kind wishes x


Great to hear that the information helps, "forewarned is forearmed" as they say.
Also, try to get information about how you will cleanse your bowel pre-op.
I went in at 7.30 and they gave me an enema in my stoma which did not work, and I went into surgery with a bowel full of poo. On waking from the op, I had diarrhea for 30 minutes straight, which was very painful and humiliating as I stank out the recovery ward. I would much rather have had a liquid diet for 2 days post-op and done my own enema the night before.
It worried me that the operation took place when my bowel was full. It must have increased the risk of infection.
Also, in the hospital, they expected me to just stand over the toilet after the stoma enema, and we all know how messy that is. I would suggest you take in a drainable bag with you.
Good luck to all. xx


Top tip!

You will be sore post-op in the bum area, mostly due to the stitches. I asked for regular applications of numbing gel to be applied, it really helped as the spinal block did not touch that area.

Also, in terms of pain relief, make sure they write you up for your morphine shot before they take down the spinal as you may have to wait several hours to find a doctor to do it and it is no fun waiting for that while just managing on the IV paracetamol.
Good luck x
I just kept saying to myself,
'This will pass' and it helps a lot.


The tummy bandage may be unique to me, I don't know. I had a massive incisional hernia from a previous operation, and he did a repair with just mesh. It is a lot of pressure on the mesh as I have no abs at the front, so it is a protection and will help the healing.
I think a light elastic support can only be a good thing after any type of abdominal operation, but that is just my view.
I need to wear it until January.
Ask your surgeon about the benefits of a tubigrip torso bandage post-op.


Wow, I know my 2 surgeries I had no spinal or anything, and no tubes in the mouth or bum, I am not sure if it is reversal specific, I am going to have to ask my surgeon, I know I will have a drain in for my stoma closure but that's about it. And after the last one, I was on morphine pump up until the last day I was in the hospital, and then they had me on oral meds. But they will be using the PIG or porcine mesh stuff to help close the stoma wound as well. Which I am okay with because of lack of rejection, but I have heard things about potential for infection as well. So who knows! I am just going to hope and pray and keep my head up, and be positive!!! I pray that you are continuing to get better!!

Past Member

Hi there Sunny, and thanks for the good tips! I'll certainly take your advice regarding the hernias and your other advice too. Oh, I do feel for you heading home this early. Be sure to look after yourself and make sure to have your important telephone numbers at hand in case you need them. I'll be in a similar situation with staying with my sister and family for a few days after and then back home. Here's hoping your situation keeps improving!! As you say...this too will pass. Just remember we're right behind you and in our prayers! Take care, Colm


I'll be in somewhat the same situation, I'll be staying at my grandmother's house for a couple of weeks post-op, as my wife is a school teacher and will be back to teaching pretty much right when I get out of the hospital (God willing it's a short stay, and no complications).

And she doesn't feel comfortable with me being home by myself, as I am a busybody by nature, and have issues sitting still, and I have a tendency of overdoing it. So that way they can keep an eye on me and keep me in bed.

Numbing gel! Great idea. Thank you.

Thanks also for explaining the tummy grip bandage. I didn't have a hernia prior to the surgery and really hope that I don't develop one afterwards. I've read from others on this forum that they are very painful. I talked with my colorectal surgeon about the tubes. He said he doubts that I will need the drain at stoma site or the rectal tube. If there are issues, I may need the NG tube, but it's not standard post-op.

Wish me luck and positive vibes!! I have a gastrografin enema and a flex-sigmoidoscopy in a couple of weeks. If the tests come back ok (meaning the colon reconnection is healing as expected), then the loop ileostomy will be closed the week of Dec 26.

I've had a colostomy since July 2010 and loop ileo for three weeks. It's gonna be weird not to have my bag by my side. I've become so accustomed to the routine.

Take care,


18 days with no bag, and I still feel my side every few minutes to see if I need attending to.
I have started to be able to pass a poo without pain, but the hernia op is still proving painful.
Glad to hear you will not need all the tubing I got, that was terrible.
After my first operation to make the stoma, I would have benefited from some elastic support to prevent the hernia. I got no advice about this and did a lot of housework post-op, which did not help.
If they are opening you up rather than keyhole, then there is a risk of an incisional hernia, but mostly if you are over 70, very overweight, have diabetes, are on steroids, or if you are excessively inactive for weeks.
I was told I got mine due to a major infection of the abdominal wall post-surgery last time. The muscles rotted away and the intestines just burst through.
Glad to be put back to how I was. Good luck to all on the journey x

Past Member

Sunny, oh glad to hear you're beginning to get back to "normal" once again. I really hadn't realized it would be so difficult and thanks for posting a frank account of your experience. It has made me come back down to earth and be a little more realistic about my own surgery. It's better to be prepared for every eventuality, I always think. I do hope that the hernia situation improves soon too. Take good care and thanks again, Colm

Hey, Sunny D -

Like Colm, I'm glad to hear you're starting to feel a little more human. It's interesting how complete strangers find ourselves sincerely rooting for each other. This is a very timely topic for me, as I know it is for others, as I'm now thinking about having a reversal maybe sometime next spring. I have a family affair in 2 months I absolutely don't want to miss, so I'm just now working on getting myself in better shape both physically and mentally. As I've been in a depression for a couple of years now, I'm not comfortable going into surgery until I manage to have an attitude adjustment first since I believe it directly affects outcome.

I just read all the posts on this topic and my dog turned around to see what I was groaning about. Until he looked up at me, I hadn't realized I'd been groaning out loud with each post I read. What a horror show you've just been through! Gallbladder surgery was nothing after a couple of resections. After my ileostomy, the resections seemed like a piece of cake. I understood the reversal is even tougher, but I don't know if there are enough drugs in the world for what you've just dealt with. Hit me over the head with a hammer and set the alarm for six months from now. Please continue to keep us updated. Your graphic descriptions may disgust most of the general population, but along with your tips, your updates are immensely helpful. Years ago I spent 8 years working in a state institution and saw clients engage in unspeakable acts with things related to bodily functions. These things occurred so regularly, we could talk about stuff at dinner that would make outsiders gag. I also once attended support group meetings for Crohn's patients. Here I am again, talking about ugly things with beautiful people. Considering I never had any kids, poop has been an awfully big part of my life.

Sunny D, I hope your recovery only gets easier.

Colm, you've got the patience of a saint. Good luck when the time comes. You're one of those people who I feel I know even though we've never communicated with each other directly. I've read tons of your posts and I'm guessing you've read mine.

I think of both of you as friends I just haven't met yet. Good wishes and prayers go out for the two of you.


Congratulations! I know I cannot wait!! I know I am not looking forward to the hernia surgery, but the reversal most assuredly. Yeah, even if I did or do need the tubing I consider it a small hurdle on the way to resemble normalcy! LOL I used my wife's elastic thingy from when she was pregnant, and it helped a lot, but still ended up with an inguinal hernia. I think it might have been from me just trying to get myself back into shape and doing too much around the house too soon. Fortunately, I am getting the keyhole surgery, God willing nothing comes up to change that. I am so very happy you are doing better, I know with my first surgery, the first BM I had was really painful, but I don't know if it was normal or not because by then I was already suffering from peritonitis. We shall see, I am going to keep some stool softeners handy, that is for sure! Thank you so much for like DanDare said, and giving us a good account of your experience to ensure we know what to look forward to! Thank you! And I pray for your continued recovery!!

Past Member

Oh Laurie, thanks for those kind words. Sorry, just reminded myself of that song in the 70's by Alessi "Oh Laurie" like so many folk here I'm just happy to be alive and when I read of some folks' trials here I don't know how lucky I've been. I owe it all to my wonderful surgeon, Asad Jawad.....he saved my life!! And thanks too for considering me a friend too. I've not signed up for the full membership, but as a Christmas gift to myself, I'm going to sign up. I'll be in hospital over the Christmas anyway. But as for considering the reversal, you're completely correct to wait until you consider your time right. I do hope your outlook improves and you have a most wonderful and peaceful Christmas and New Year. Wait and see....2012 will be your year with a reversal behind you and a sunny horizon ahead. Take good care, Colm


I feel very sorry for you having to go through such a terrible experience. I have been hoping to have a reversal next year, but after hearing of your experience I am having second thoughts. Can I ask what hospital you were in? And who was the surgeon please? I live reasonably near you in Woking.

Just read all the posts again, I can't tell you how supported I feel knowing I am not alone.
There is so much stigma associated with the bag, and so much ignorance. I myself knew nothing about it, and when I was told I was going to get one, I had visions of a bag the size of a horse nose bag attached to my thigh with a strap. I also thought I would walk around with a smell following me. As we know, neither were true and I managed my stoma in a discreet way and did not let it stop me doing anything. I even abseiled, rock climbed, and sailed. For swimming, I wore an elastic support under my costume so felt confident there as well.
The media needs to take a sympathetic approach to ostomates, there are a lot of us. All it would take would be a popular soap opera to cover the subject sympathetically and demystify the subject.
In my case, I was fit for work last May but they did not have me back as they did not like the idea of me visiting clients and having to use the loo with a bag. It is discrimination really!
So with the reversal 3 weeks ago and a slow recovery ahead, I can see myself being off work for 20 months. I would prefer to have gone back to work as it is a sense of self-worth and self-esteem, but I should not complain as they are still paying me. But I do feel de-skilled.
I have been writing for 'Gut Feelings' magazine (South of England) and from that been asked by the stoma nurses at my local hospital to give a presentation to community nurses and other health professionals in terms of life with a stoma.
It definitely has its own issues being younger and single. Dating has presented a whole load of problems, and I have been dumped twice when I have disclosed the bag. Even now, I am reluctant to tell chaps 'what the surgery was' due to the preconceptions. I was surprised to see one post on here which a chap said he just got on with his life and the stoma was purely a cosmetic issue and made no difference. As a woman, I really disagreed with this viewpoint. Trying to feel attractive is hard enough without the added bag on the side and has a big effect on self-image and self-esteem. Saying that, I have also had one chap who did not mind the bag (medical practitioner, shame he was one of those swingers! My luck).
Good luck and thanks everyone for love, support, and good vibes xxx
Hey, please don't let my experience put you off. Every case is different. I had a Hartmann reversal and a massive incisional hernia repair with mesh. A friend of mine had an ileo reversal with a pouch, and she was back to work in 3 weeks. So we are all different.
3 weeks post-op and today I managed to attend my daughter's school fair. This morning, I managed a poo without first taking lactulose.
Yes, it has been a hellish 3 weeks, but I am so much better now. I did not have the keyhole surgery that has the short recovery time, and to be honest, the last 3 weeks is nothing I could not handle.
There is no shortage of painkillers on offer, and there is no need to be in pain while in the hospital (with a bit of planning! See my other posts).
It has been liberating to leave the house without doing the check for bags, wipes, sprays, and disposal bags. Not to mention the sitting to poo rather than all that hovering over the toilet that went on.
When you feel ready, go for it. Be real, it is not a 'walk in the park,' but I am feeling it was worth it, and I am now looking forward to Christmas. xx
Past Member

Wow Sunny, how well you've come on in the past week!! I know it hasn't been and recovery never is. But congratulations on your uphill struggle! You're an inspiration for us all. Here's hoping you have a wonderful Christmas. Please keep us up to date with your would be interesting to compare notes after mine. Take care, Colm

Hi Dan,
It was all going well and even the poo situation has settled down. The trouble with big operations with a large wound is that there is more of a risk of infection. All I did was pick a tiny bit of scab off and it has gotten infected (I had clean hands, honest!) and a red raw marble-sized bit of flesh has popped out. It is really weeping. I was managing without dressing the wound, but now I need to change it every few hours.
I expect a visit to the GP on Monday for some more antibiotics will be in order.
My mum came over today and cooked dinner, and I have my 9-year-old daughter here until 7.30, but I will be on my own after that.
It is quite difficult going through this without a partner, but one can only really experience this as a personal life event. I am sure I will come out of it stronger.
Don't forget your antiseptic throat spray to take into the hospital in case they use the G tube.
Also, make sure you are clear about how they expect you to empty the bowel pre-op as mine was a bit of a shambles.
Past Member

Thanks for the tip over the antiseptic throat spray. I almost forgot about that after having one of those tubes in after my last operation. Oh, I know that whole thing about infections!!! I've just had that rash reappear around my stoma once again and it's as nasty as ever!! And I've been extra careful ever since the last outbreak..........Darn!! But my stoma nurse tells me it won't affect surgery, but will still give her a call on Monday just in case. Thank goodness for having this site as an outlet for's not easy going through the whole thing alone! It can certainly be a very lonely experience at times. Yes, I like your philosophy about coming out of it all the has been a real life-changing experience for me anyway and I'm happy what it's done for me. Take care, Colm


Dear Colm.
I was surprised how much skin they took away at the stoma site, I know this as I had gone for a few sunbed sessions and had quite a white bit around the stoma where the skin was covered, and it was not there post-op, so I expect they will cut away any rash. Also, they will give you the broad base IV antibiotics post-surgery, so don't worry about the rash.
My poo bags have come in handy today as my wound was leaking, and I was getting fed up with changing the dressing, so I stuck a drainable bag over it, nice and tidy. I will get to the doctor tomorrow. More antibiotics....
Best wishes


Bravo, and best of luck for complete 'recovery.' The human body is an amazing thing. It may take time but if you do the things necessary for your overall health, and have decent docs, it is certain you (your body) will succeed in healing.

I am a good candidate for a reversal based upon my general fitness, health, vitals etc., but insurance is an issue. Very frustrating.

Did you have any trepidation about a reversal considering it is major surgery with all the risks inherent therein?


I am loving the username!
We are so lucky in the UK that all healthcare is free at the point of delivery.
So I didn't even have to consider the insurance issue, mind you we do pay lots of tax to cover it. I was also offered a tummy tuck for free after I recovered, which I was surprised about as that will be cosmetic.

I did not hesitate about the risks. I did lots of research on the net and could not find one fatality due to a reversal. The high-risk groups are very overweight, diabetic, very old, or inactive.
If I had been in a stable relationship, I may have thought again. But being on my own and seeking love, I have been on the receiving end of some negativity due to the bag.
I had a friend who went through similar surgery and reversal ileo and J-pouch, and she was good to go after 3 weeks and back at work. Mine was Hartman's reversal and massive incisional hernia repair, so it is bound to have a longer recovery time.
Keeping positive.
Good luck with your journey x
(PS sorry about my spelling. I am in a bit of pain and can't concentrate)


I am moving to the UK from the USA; who, like George B. Shaw said, are "two countries separated by a common language." LOL

I heard English women are the best.

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