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Lakeshore
An author of no particular popularity

Jay Lake
Date: 2008-06-26 05:31
Subject: [cancer] A bit of an update
Security: Public
Tags:cancer, healthcare, personal

The operation was seven weeks ago tomorrow. At this point, I am pain free, and mostly free of discomfort. I don’t quite have full range of motion restored (I can’t bend and twist all that well), but mostly my abdominal muscles are working. In the past week, the significant discomfort of my bowel movements has all but vanished.

I still have a brain made of Swiss cheese. I’m not amnesiac, but I am dreadfully absent-minded, sometimes over major issues. I still have very low energy days every second or third day, where after a few hours of initial energy, I can do little but lie on the couch or in the recliner. I still cannot read much in print, though I can read a lot on the screen. (And why is that?)

A bit of medical TMI:

My only real concern right now is that in the last week I’ve lost about five pounds, and been experiencing excessive bowel movements, as many as a dozen productive movements a day. I am checking in with my doctor to see if this is a normal post-operative experience (ie, my body adjusting to more-or-less normal function being restored) or if I should be concerned.

Like I’ve said, I’m not back to normal, but I can see it from here, and even visit it some.

Originally published at jlake.com. You can comment here or there.

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User: ellameena
Date: 2008-06-26 13:38 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Just a piece of trivia that may make you feel better. When you lose weight, the excess stuff is either water, that goes out via urine, or it is exhaled as carbon dioxide--all of those long chain fat molecules simply vaporize. Muscle mass is consumed when it's loss. None of it goes out the back door.

So in case you are worried that your weight loss is somehow connected to all those BM's, rest easy. :-)
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2008-06-26 13:59 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Yeah, I know the human body is basically a giant water pump. What I can't figure out is how I'm excreting a lot more mass (or at least volume) than I'm taking in, and why it's co-incident with the weight loss. (Correlation is not causation, and neither is coincidence.)

I occasionally experience a day or two of this kind of overperformance when I travel, especially overseas or to distant locations where my intestinal flora tend to roll over. But five days is freakish...
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User: dirkcjelli
Date: 2008-06-26 13:56 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Glad to hear that you're mostly put back together. Hope you reach some kind of colonic equilibrium soon.
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(no subject) - (Anonymous)
Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2008-06-26 14:16 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I do have faith, but it's definitely an annoyance.
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Rose Fox
User: rosefox
Date: 2008-06-26 15:28 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Like a cat, you read with your butt? *)
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2008-06-26 15:29 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Got to use all that calico fur for something...
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Ramblin_Phyl
User: ramblin_phyl
Date: 2008-06-26 15:48 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Anesthesia does nasty things to the entire body. It takes up to a year for all the toxins to work out of the body.

Has your change of diet--more fiber less fat contributed to a general clean out?
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2008-06-26 15:50 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I have had to moderate the fiber, oddly. I constipate far too easily right now, or at least I did before the current round of activity.

Otherwise things are clean. Just, erm, very rapid.
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miki garrison: disco snake
User: mikigarrison
Date: 2008-06-26 16:57 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:disco snake
"My only real concern right now is that in the last week I’ve lost about five pounds, and been experiencing excessive bowel movements, as many as a dozen productive movements a day"

The type of surgery you had, the anaesthesia, and the pain meds can all affect the degree to which your body can actually absorb nutrients through your intestines. If the nutrients aren't being absorbed normally, you end up crapping out things that your body would usually keep and use. All of the above also affect the speed at which things move through your GI tract, which can also increase crapping frequency. And to top it all off, your total colon capacity has been changed -- a) because it's not as long, and b) temporarily, because while it's healing it's probably less stretchy than usual. Decreased capacity means needing to empty more often.

While it's theoretically possible that the weight you've lost is because the above could mean that your body has less calories available to it, more likely is that it's a loss of water weight -- after major surgery your body tends to store extra fluid in strange places, and it generally takes about this long for your body to agree to let go of it.
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2008-06-26 17:06 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Interesting. Another data point, my appetite has been way down this past week. (It's been down in general since the surgery, but sharply so recently.)
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miki garrison: disco snake
User: mikigarrison
Date: 2008-06-26 17:13 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:disco snake
That would actually worry me a little more than any of the other stuff.

If you were sharply less hungry and crapping much *less* than usual all of the sudden, I'd be on your case to talk to your doc ASAP. But after intestinal surgery, any sudden change in appetite is worth a call to the doctor for in my book.
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martianmooncrab
User: martianmooncrab
Date: 2008-06-26 17:22 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
1. Anesthesia, they really dont explain how it affects your brain functions, your taste buds, and how long it takes to fully flush out of your body, everyone is different.

2. Bowels, well, they have been traumatized, and they are doing the fits and starts to get back to normal. Time varies per person.

3. Drugs. (better living through chemistry!) you have been taking pain meds, antibiotics and other things. You have how they affect the brain, and my fave, they dont go into details how the antibiotics have flushed all the good flora and fauna out in order to keep the bad away. It takes time to cultivate a good colon farm.

4. dont sweat the weight loss, you body had been compensating for the cancer to begin with, and now its gone, it can get back to doing its thing.
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kzmiller
User: kzmiller
Date: 2008-06-26 18:48 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Speaking of flora and fauna, unless your doc says no to dairy and/or you have issues with it, yogurt can help kick start your gut. When my goats have a GI incident (why am I picturing machine guns and panicked goats all of a sudden? Ugh) we feed them this cool stuff that's full of a well-rounded spectrum of gut biota. Why there isn't a human being equivalent is beyond me, but the acidophilus in yogurt is at least a good starting point. Also, if you still have your appendix that shelters your good bacteria from most GI tract trauma. You may reseed from there, but it's relatively slow. Usually yogurt gets me closer to normal in a day. Sometimes I even feel better in just a couple of hours.
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2008-06-26 19:21 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
In fact, I went on daily yogurt recently to combat this...I loves me some flora.
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Katrina
User: kmarier
Date: 2008-06-26 18:44 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Sounds par for the course when recovering from that type of surgery. My mom worked for two gastroenterologists for many, many years and much of what you are describing can be part and parcel of the recovery process - in fact it sounds like you are doing splendidly. Yay!!
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User: (Anonymous)
Date: 2008-06-27 09:52 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Good to hear things are improving!
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User: blzblack
Date: 2008-06-27 09:56 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
That last was me. See you soon!
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Alley
User: alleypat
Date: 2008-06-27 20:03 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I'm so glad to hear you are recouping well. Do keep in touch with your doc on that potential problem though. My surgeries were in March, 2 lung surgeries, and I still have some numbness around my chest, can't handle heat (and I live in Texas! LOL), walking, walking, walking trying to get my lung capacity back (after a bout of pneumonia while in the hospital), and darn impatient to return to "normal" if not better. Good luck to you and hope you are in excellent health soonest :).... Alley
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User: (Anonymous)
Date: 2008-08-26 19:43 (UTC)
Subject: Roto-Rooter

I suspect the inside of your intestines are cleaning themselves out.

You know what the inside of your home plumbing looks like? Wrt to your intestine - same difference.

The first three times I did intensive cleanses (no solids - just water, green juices, liquid protein and twice daily fiber powder) I lost ~1lb / day and had a minimum of one very productive BM / day.

Cheers,
Brendan
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