I decided to weigh myself the morning before I went into hospital, and found that my liking for unhealthy food and possibly drinking more than was good for me of my favourite tipple, cider, had resulted in me being more than a stone overweight. I must also concede that my eating and drinking choices could also have been a contributory factor in the condition of my bowel. Armed with this figure of stones and pounds from before the operation, a week after getting back home, I thought I might repeat the exercise and get back on the scales. The extra stone had unsurprisingly gone! Perhaps I could try to market this as the next dietary fad, the “don’t eat anything, just poo and vomit diet”
By three weeks post surgery, my daily walks have increased to about a mile and some days I remain awake until bed time, although bed time is usually well before nine thirty in the evening. I am not needing either anti sickness medication or Imodium on a regular basis. The advice I have been given is to try to retrain my bowel. The technique is to wait until I really need to go before trying to poo. It is little like childhood potty training all over again only on this occasion I don’t have to sit on a small plastic pot in the middle of the living room floor looking for praise from an encouraging parent.
This is also the time of the maximum amount of frustration. When I was feeling terrible and weak, then there was no temptation to do anything more than I could manage. Now though, I am seeing things to do like making a cup of tea, picking up something that needs to be moved or emptying the waste bin. But I’m not allowed to lift yet, not even a kettle. The wound which seems to be healing so well also needs the time to thoroughly knit together all the way through the layers of abdominal muscle, and this is a task the body performs at it’s own pace and it can take six to eight weeks even if all is going well. Interfere with this slow process by putting to much strain on those muscles, could result in a long term weakness. I don’t want to find in a few years from now that some of my insides herniate out and need further surgery to be put back in. Nevertheless, sometimes I forget, and in an absent minded moment I attempt to do something and only stop when chastised by my ever vigilant wife. This is why she is still reluctant to leave me on my own, I am just like a small child and I still need adult supervision.
What I can and cannot eat at this stage is difficult to judge. There is a lot of contradictory advice but as a general rule I am to eat little amounts frequently rather than trying to consume big meals. Somethings are definitely off the menu for the first few months and unfortunately some these are the things I absolutely adore. Spicy food such as curry or chilli con carne, could irritate the bowel and likewise caffeine can have the same effect. Vegetables which can produce lots of gas such as cabbage and sprouts are also best left alone at this stage as it is wise not to eat anything which might cause flatulence and as I’ve already said, farts are not to be trusted. Still, as I don’t particularly like most vegetables, for me, there’s no great loss in avoiding them! One thing which I am consuming almost every day, are jelly babies. I have a very sweet tooth and also, an old friend who happens to have been a colorectal nurse for over twenty years, she has recommended these sugary sweet morsels of delight because the gelatine helps to bind everything together. Jelly babies or sprouts? No contest.