My first night home was fine. I went to bed early and slept pretty well, though I was up a lot during the night (more on that in a bit). I still have quite a bit of pain around the former stoma site, which is unsurprising. Percocet and ibuprofen take the edge off, but certainly don’t eliminate the pain. But it’s nothing like the discomfort I had following my first surgery, and I expect it will get better much more quickly.
As for my J-Pouch function, I suspect my surgeon would say I’m a model case and everything is progressing perfectly, but that doesn’t mean it has been (or will be) an easy transition. During the first couple days of eating a solid-food (low-residue) diet, I’ve had A LOT of bowel movements. So many that it’s difficult to keep track of them all, but it’s somewhere north of 20 per day (about half of which occur during the night). I’m 99.9% confident this is temporary as my J-Pouch learns to do its job, and I (and my body) learn to read its signs better. But it doesn’t make it any less inconvenient at the moment.
The good news is, for the most part, my bowel movements are relatively easy. It’s certainly world’s better than the 20-30 trips to the bathroom I’d have during an ulcerative colitis flare. There’s no blood. No tremendous urgency. No lack of control. No sever pain. I say “for the most part” because, on occasion, I’ve experienced some cramping or pressure pain leading up to a bowel movement. Again, this is to be expected and, I suspect, is temporary. My J-Pouch sat empty for months. Now that it’s finally getting some use, it has very little capacity and, for lack of a better term, it feels “weird” when it fills up. And it fills up pretty quickly. Over time, it will stretch and this mild discomfort should improve.
The even better good news is that my stool is fairly well-formed. Indeed, my nurses were pretty amazed when they checked my collected stool following my first night on solid foods (never before have I received so many compliments about body fluids!). One of the biggest problems J-Pouchers experience is extremely loose stool, which results in “butt burn” from the caustic liquid stool irritating the surrounding skin. Solid stool should mean no (or much less) burn, which would be great. I’ve also added Metamucil fiber supplements to my diet, which further thickens the stool and seems to reduce the acidity. However, I also think the fiber-swollen stool causes my J-Pouch to fill up quicker, which results in more trips to the bathroom. Right now, it’s a bit of trial and error as I try to find the right balance. In this regard, I’m keeping a diet/bathroom log, so I can identify patterns and problematic (or helpful) foods. But the bottom line (so to speak) is that my J-Pouch is working well and my only real issues at the moment are capacity/frequency-related). It’s only been a couple of days, but I’m cautiously optimistic these issues will resolve in time.
But, first things first, I need to eat lunch and see what happens afterwards…