Successful Reversal: Overcoming Challenges and Returning to Work

Dec 06, 2011 8:53 pm

The night of August 16th was probably the most painful night of my life. Starting at 5pm and finally at 4am on the 17th, I let my wife call 911. I was brought to the hospital and diagnosed as having a perforated colon from diverticulitis. If I wasn't on so much morphine, I probably would have flipped out. Finally, that afternoon they found air floating around my chest area and decided I had to have surgery. I was well prepped for it as far as info goes, so I knew I would wake up with a bag. My last words before going out in the OR were "Where is the music? There is always music on TV." They put on the hard rock I asked for. After the surgery, I couldn't even look at the bag for 5 days. I wanted to go home, so on the 6th day, the stoma nurse taught me how to manage it and I went home. Over the next ten weeks, I can't even describe the emotion, but I must say I think I handled it well. I went back to work for a few hours a day, even while I was in the hospital (laptop and phone). Ten weeks later, I had the reversal. I am now almost 5 weeks post-reversal and am doing well and have been back to work for three weeks (light duty and 4-5 hours a day, I am in sales so it's easy to drive around and visit accounts).

While I had the bag, I told everyone I was involved with and was amazed how many people told me about their experience with someone in the family that had a similar situation. I even went on a four-day golf trip with the bag on and it worked out OK as well. So besides the ugly scars on my belly, I think I am going to be OK. By the way, I am 59 years old and in good health besides this.

Past Member
Dec 07, 2011 1:05 pm

Great news Walt! I am delighted for you! We've had such a mixed bag of reversal fortunes of late, but it is always nice to see a successful one. Especially as I'm awaiting mine!! LOL But I do hope Stomastan gets a chance to see this before his surgery. Thanks for posting as it means the world to see someone else make it through with flying colours. Best of luck in your recovery!! Take care, Colm

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Dec 07, 2011 2:54 pm

I am glad I caught this, it really is good to hear the good stories, as there are so many bad stories out there. I am glad you had my name in your comment, DanDare. It drew my attention to the story, and good thing too! Mixed "bag" of emotions lol. That was good! And with the timeframe from start to finish as well for you, Walt, is around the same kind of time frame I am running as well. So it is very good to hear that your reversal went so well. I pray for your continued recovery, and keep us posted on how things are going!!

Dec 07, 2011 5:45 pm
That's a great Freudian slip, StomaStan!  
Past Member
Dec 12, 2011 8:15 pm

That's pretty much the same story as mine. However, my reversal was about 7 months later. Funny thing though... my bowel burst 2 weeks after a colonoscopy and removal of numerous polyps. I've heard that sometimes a colonoscopy can do more damage and even cause tears.

About a year after the reversal, I had developed two very large incisional hernias and had those "fixed" in March of 2011. Since then, I have had a lot of pain in various places in my stomach. Sometimes I feel like I'm being torn apart inside when I cough or sneeze. I also get a lot of painful "twinges" where there is a lot of scar tissue inside (I can feel the cords of scar tissue from the 3 surgeries). I still seem to have a very lopsided malformed stomach.

In the past 2 months, I seem to have developed a lactose intolerance. When I looked it up on Wikipedia, damage to the intestines can be one of 3 major causes.

Can anyone relate to any of these issues?

Getting Support in the Ostomy Community with LeeAnne Hayden | Hollister
Dec 13, 2011 12:40 am

I too had a perforated bowel and am looking forward to my reversal Jan. 12th. Best of luck to all of us in our journey.

Dec 13, 2011 1:58 am

You sound like me. I had fistula, two weeks in the hospital, then 5 weeks later an ileostomy, 3 weeks in the hospital, then 3 months later reversal, then 2 months later a ventral hernia operated on three months later, pain pain pain so bad can't stand and walk. Now have an internal hernia.

Dec 13, 2011 3:26 am

I was told I was good to go for the reversal at 6 months but it will be 11 months when I actually get it done. I'm actually glad that it took a little longer to get it scheduled... I have Crohn's, compromised immune system, developed Legionella pneumonia while I was in the hospital, so I want to be as healthy as possible when I have the reversal.

Past Member
Dec 28, 2011 6:59 pm

Hi Stomastan, I do hope all went well for you yesterday for your reversal surgery and you're on the road to recovery. Please do keep us posted with your progress when you get home. Happy New Year and stay positive, Colm

Dec 30, 2011 5:25 am

Stomastan, keep us informed, hope all is coming out smoothly! Beaner

Jan 02, 2012 2:17 am

I had a reversal in April 2011. I had the colostomy in Jan. 2011. Since then, I have done fine. My colon was about to perforate, and in the emergency room, I was asked if I had a surgeon. The doctor told me after the CT scan that he could see "thin air." The strange thing is, I was not in pain. I was offered morphine, but I didn't need it. Mine was caused by diverticulitis also.

Jan 02, 2012 1:58 pm

Ugh, I'm so sorry to hear about all these stories. But it sure does shed some light for 'woe is me'. Sometimes I look at my stoma, scar, and all the extra time to 'clean' the toilet and just want to scream! I get tired of using drops, lighting matches, candles, etc. to hide the smell. Other times I feel fortunate that I'm still alive, and I should be grateful.

I had stage 3 rectal cancer. Went through radiation, chemo, surgery, chemo, then surgery again. After they reversed my ileostomy, I got home, had severe pain, nausea, and discomfort. We went to the hospital and they ran test after test.................. but not the right ones. After 21 hours, they FINALLY opened me up and saw that I had C-diff. I had gone into septic shock, and it is a miracle I'm still alive. WHY didn't they test me for C-diff right away? Ugh, I get so angry sometimes, because now I have a permanent ostomy.

Any of you that get a reversal and have gone through chemo.............. please, make sure you have them check for C-diff if you go back to the hospital because of nausea, pain, etc.!!!!

Jan 24, 2012 7:33 pm

Well, I appreciate it DanDare, you should read my post named "So Reversal a No Go". It didn't work out for me, but damn it, I tried. And what is kind of upsetting though, is it went perfect all the way through. And before I was released, I asked the surgeon to get me a CAT scan to double-check for any leakage to be sure, and she said it wasn't needed. Well, the next night I was back in the Emergency room with a perforation at the connection. But ah well. Like I said, you should read my post, that will give you a rundown of what happened. I spent my birthday 12/28/2011, New Year's Eve and Day in the hospital. But I have more to celebrate now just being alive after all I went through!

Jan 24, 2012 8:03 pm

Here's wishing you many years of good health, Walt! Thank you for posting - good reversal stories are needed just as much as the negative outcome stories.

Personally, the good Barbie Butt stories on this forum helped me make my decision. You no doubt will be helping someone in their decision and how they feel about it.

Past Member
Jan 24, 2012 8:07 pm

Hi again StomaStan, I think I have already posted in your latest post. And once again, my wholehearted sympathies for what you've gone through. Since I posted earlier today, I had a call from my surgeon asking me in for surgery next Tuesday. Oh, my heart was in my mouth as he asked, but I did say that I would give it a try. I'm just happy that you've posted as it puts everything in perspective. But here's wishing you a speedy recovery and may you soon be off the medication. Take good care, Colm

Jan 25, 2012 1:11 am
Colm....Next Tuesday the 31st?   Oh my gosh, you will beat me by one day!   And you are going to do it?   Wow!   Talk about life changing on a moment's notice!   You know you will be in my thoughts and prayers....and I know you will keep us posted!   I am so happy for you!

Past Member
Jan 25, 2012 1:41 pm
Hi again Darla, sorry to have got your hopes up, but I have had surgery cancelled again today. ....Sorry for the rant! I've edited this as I really should consider myself lucky to be alive.
Jan 25, 2012 1:58 pm

Colm - No need to apologize.....these guys are definitely "yanking your chain!" I guess they don't realize how it feels to be told again and again that you have a chance at a life-changing procedure you really WANT to have; only to be shot down again and again......or perhaps they DO, but they just don't care.....
Bless your heart! (((hugs))) Yes, on the subject of recent disappointments for some of our reversal candidates; there are some reversals that just don't work and we need to "ramp up" our support when they don't.....that's what we do here.....we encourage and cheer on and uplift our fellow ostomates; whether they have just had ostomy surgery, or are in a bad place, emotionally, or are having a reversal, or WHATEVER their situation! That's one of the many wonderful things about this forum....lots of allies and supportive people who really do care about their fellow counterparts!
I think that you are one of our forum angels....ALWAYS spreading support, cheer, humor, wisdom.....despite your own circumstances. I really appreciate the support you have given me on many fronts and hope that we can ALL rally around you as you once again await your reversal!

Keep us posted, ok?


PS: I edited a bit, too........and yes, we are both lucky to be alive and kicking and ranting and just being who we are!

Jan 25, 2012 5:30 pm

I had my reversal on Jan 12, and I am really taking it easy and being careful with keeping the open wound clean while it heals, eating carefully and not lifting. Too many of you have developed hernias and that worries me! So far so good.
Keep positive, keep busy, and hopefully your prayers will be answered... Beaner