#sharestrength – My Colorectal Surgery Part 1

Finally it’s time to talk about the colorectal surgery that I underwent on 26 Jan 2016. The purpose of the surgery was to remove the colon tumor alongside the surrounding healthy tissues and lymph nodes of my colon (large intestine). The surgeon had to cut my abdomen open in order to do that because the tumor was too big to be removed via lapascopy (keyhole surgery). It was a major surgery. I was hospitalized for 9 days post surgery and am on a month-long medical leave.

Prior to the surgery, I had to go through a bowel cleansing procedure where I had to empty my bowel completely so that it’s clean for the surgeon to operate on. For that, I was warded the evening before on 25 Jan 2016 and spent the evening drinking Fortrans and going to the toilet. This also marked the beginning of my food fasting at 6pm.

admitted for colorectal surgery
The ward was empty because 25 Jan was a public holiday after a weekend. I got into the ward and felt like entering a hotel. I even did a room tour for my friends! And I turned this photo into my room poster that I sent to friends.

My first experience with Fortrans was when I did my colonoscopy the week before. The first liter was the toughest. I felt like my stomach was going to explode with so much liquid consumed within an hour. I vomited when I did the procedure for my colonoscopy. I didn’t vomit this time but my tummy was so bloated I had to loosen my pants and walk around the ward.

After taking the first liter down, I had to continue with another liter within the next hour. 2 liters in 2 hours. I was just waiting and hoping the Fortrans forces out all the poop inside me quickly. Fyi, because I was on liquid diet before my surgery, I only had loose and watery stool from the beginning. And the thing about bowel cleansing was that I was basically flushing out the liters of water back out when I go to the toilet. It’s like peeing with your buttock. I don’t remember how many times I went to the toilet this round.

That night, they took my blood as well and surprisingly, doctor did not do ECG test and lung x-ray on me even though it’s a common procedure before a major surgery like this. Apparently, my heart and lungs were expected to be young and strong enough for this surgery. Alright.

I went to bed after a tiring night. Had lots of visitors and I was tired from the toilet visits. My surgeon visited me to explain the surgery procedure to me as well. He explained in Hokkien so that my mom understood as well. Sweet.

gifts for hospital patient
RK’s sister brought a huge bear and a bouquet of flowers for me. The bear was bigger than me! And the head was so heavy. LOL.

RK volunteered to accompany me at the hospital that night; that made me feel stronger and supported even though he was sleeping the whole way until 7am-ish =)

hospital extra bed
The sleeping “beauty”. Took this photo in the morning when I woke up way earlier than him. The ward was cold. He wrapped himself like a caterpillar.

At 6am on the day of my operation, I was given another 1 liter or so of Fortrans that I had to finish in about an hour as well. As per my colonoscopy, this liter of Fortrans didn’t feel that bad. It didn’t make me feel that bloated though I was already sick of drinking water at this point. Fyi, Fortrans tastes slightly salty, just like salt water. Not a bad taste but not yummy as well.

After my bowel cleansing procedure, RK and I went for a morning walk around the ward. We wanted to visit the HDU (High Dependency Unit) where I’d be warded for a night or two after the surgery. By the time we were walking back, I was gasping for air already because I was hungry. Have been fasting for more than 14 hours by then and I felt my body was already low on sugar. I went back to the ward where I eventually dozed off.

SJMC for colorectal surgery
We took a slow walk to the other block of SJMC.

Had a few more visitors that morning and the anesthetist was one of them. He was another Dr Wong and he was loud and animated. Nevertheless, he explained the anesthesia procedure with clarity. General anesthesia given in gas form to put me to sleep and constant epidural as painkiller from my abdomen downward. I’d awake from the general anesthesia within minutes after removal and epidural would be for about 4-5 days post surgery.

When it was time for me to be wheeled to the operating theater, I showered for the last time and that’s when I noticed traces of blood in my bowel, as per my update on my cancer symptoms. I changed into SJMC’s robe and lay on the bed as they wheeled me to a different floor. My mom and RK were with me until they pushed me in the recovery area of the operating theater.

It was cold in there but I was fine because they already put double layer of blankets for me. On my right was a guy who just came out from his surgery. The nurse was slapping his face and calling his name to wake him up. “Wow were they gonna do the same to me?” I wondered. On my left was the drug storage area where many nurses were working with quick hands and smiles on their face. I guess they really enjoyed their work despite being in the operating theater where they probably see the bloodiest patients.

After all the curious observations, my mind were back to myself. I suddenly wondered where time flew and how I persuaded myself to undergo such a major surgery quite light heartedly; I felt light hearted at that time. Then worry started kicking in and I closed my eyes and convinced myself that everything would be alright. And my late dad would be watching over me through this surgery and my recovery. I felt a lot more at ease then..and the loud Dr Wong appeared!

He seemed to be in a rush as if he was late after his previous surgery. It was 1pm-ish then and my surgery was scheduled for 2pm. I thought we still had lots of time. He took my left arm and inserted the intravenous (IV) needle. I don’t remember it being very painful. It was more painful when he put the drugs in I think. As I was staring at the ceiling, away from the syringes and drugs on my arm, he informed me that he’s putting in the antibiotic and that was the last thing I remembered before the surgery. I wasn’t conscious when they put in the epidural. I wasn’t awake when they pushed me to the operating theater as well.

To be continued in My Colorectal Surgery Part 2.

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