Colostomy: A Patient's Perspective (cont.)
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The recovery process is, in large part, what you make of it. You can lie around feeling bad, which will slow or stall your recovery, or you can begin the process that will get you up and out of the hospital. It is perfectly normal to feel badly about being in the hospital and about your condition, but it beats the alternatives. You will adapt and you will get along and enjoy life in a reasonably normal manner if you want to. While I had my colostomy bag I found I could still ride my motorcycle, still hike in the woods, still go swimming, still go boating and camping, I even was able to hang around with my friends and do frivolous things and enjoy myself. The point I really want to make is that just because you are wearing a colostomy bag is no reason to give up the things you like to do or to become a hermit. Enjoy the life that this operation has allowed you to live and look forward to the future. KEEP YOUR SENSE OF HUMOR! There are many operations that are worse and there are many diseases that are worse.
Step one of recovery is to follow your doctors recommendations to the letter. Your first phase will be to walk and cough. Walking and coughing help to settle your stomach and clear your lungs. I found that I could force myself to walk a lot because I knew that I had to build up my muscles. You will probably start out with short trips from your bed and in a day or two you should be able to walk for 10 to 15 minutes at a time (more is better). Take it easy and don't overexert at first. During my first operation it took me two days before I could walk for 10 minutes, and during my last operation I was walking 9 hours after my operation. Keep trying.
Getting out of the bed is half the battle. I found that if I lifted the top of the bed straight up and lowered the bottom of the bed all the way down, I could swing out and slide off the edge of the bed. The first couple of days this is really uncomfortable but remember, your abdomen -or you- has been cut open, your insides have been moved all around, your abdominal muscles seem useless, and you probably just want to lie down and be left alone. Sorry, but you must force yourself to get up if you want to get better.
After a couple of days, walking will become easier but don't be afraid to ask for pain medication if you feel you need it. About day five you will find that it isn't quite so hard to get out of bed and your walks last a lot longer. Recovery from this point is just determination. Be determined.
Once you are reasonably mobile and pass a little gas you are starting to fall into a routine and recovering well enough that the nurses will want to wean you from some or all of your medication and remove IV's. This is good, don't feel that you are dependent upon them or that form of pain control. Pain can be successfully controlled with pills and it is during this weaning process that you will find out what type of pills work best for you. Don't be shy, tell the nurses and your doctor if the pills you are using don't work and give them the opportunity to try something else to ease your pain.
The most important thing now is to get out of the hospital and back home where you can be around your family and/or your stuff.
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