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When you have been discharged from hospital:

Approximately 2 days after your discharge, you will receive a phone call from the Colorectal Nurse to provide further advice and support as necessary.

Eating after Bowel Surgery

It is important to eat a healthy, varied diet as soon as you can after surgery. Remember to eat regularly and drink plenty of fluids to help your body recover. Your bowel can adapt after having part of it removed and you can still meet your nutritional requirements without making major changes to your diet.

Following your surgery, it is helpful to monitor your weight once a week and be aware of any significant weight loss (-5kg or more) as this may be a sign you are not eating and drinking enough.

If as a result of your surgery, you now have a colostomy or ileostomy you will be given specific written information on how to introduce high fibre foods in the weeks following surgery.

If you are experiencing on-going symptoms that are contributing to poor appetite and weight loss, a referral can be made to a dietitian for further assessment and advice. Please talk to your doctor or nurse about this if required.

Fruit-Vege

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Wound care after surgery

Laproscopic surgery

  • Remove the small dressings over your wound sites 3-5 days after discharge.
  • Keep your wound site dry following a shower.
  • Watch for any redness, swelling and discharge. See your GP if any of these occur.

Open surgery

  • A district nurse will be arranged to visit if necessary. They will phone you to inform you of their visit time.
  • Watch for any redness, swelling and discharge. See your GP if any of these occur.

Closure of a stoma (ileostomy/colostomy)

  • Keep the stoma site wound covered when showering.
  • A district nurse will be arranged to visit if necessary. They will phone you to inform you of their visit time.
  • Watch for any redness, swelling and discharge. See your GP if any of these occur.

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Bowel Function after Bowel Surgery

Immediately following your operation you can have problems with excess wind and loose stools. Excess wind is normal after any bowel operation and should soon settle down. Eating regularly, chewing, your food properly and closing your mouth when chewing will all help to reduce a build up of wind.

Loose stools should reduce once the bowel has settled down after surgery, and you are eating normally. Slight adjustments to your diet may help in the short term. Sometimes, depending on the surgery, a more frequent bowel activity may now be normal. Medication can be prescribed to help slow the frequency and thicken the output.

Generally, most people will develop a "new" normal bowel routine in time. This could take between a few months and up to two years.

Contact your nurse specialist if you are having any bowel function problems.

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Driving

You should not drive until you can make an emergency stop. That is, you must be able to do this without hesitation because of your fear that your wound will hurt. It is advisable to check your car insurance policy as there may be a restriction clause.

Driving

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What about sex?

You may resume sexual intercourse when it is comfortable for you. This will depend on the surgery performed and will vary from individual to individual.

Following pelvic surgery, men may experience problems achieving an erection or ejaculation, and women may experience vaginal dryness and discomfort on intercourse. It is therefore important that you and your partner have open and honest discussions at this time.

Your nurse specialist is used to discussing these matters and may be able to offer support and advice if needed, or refer you to someone who can help.

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Post-operative exercise

Restoring your physical health after an operation is vital to your mental and bodily recovery. Start by walking and build up gradually to your normal activities. Be gentle with yourself at first; swimming, aqua-aerobics or yoga will help to tone muscles affected by surgery. Relaxation exercises will help cope with the stresses you have undergone. The doctors can deal with your medical problems but you need to look after your daily wellbeing. Set yourself simple fitness targets to begin with and build up steadily from there.

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Anxiety and fear

Being diagnosed with a serious illness or having an operation can be very stressful. Some days you may feel weary, tearful and generally not able to cope. This is perfectly normal and as your energy and fitness levels return, you will start to feel well again.

However, some patients find these feelings persist. If you find that this is the case, please discuss this with your nurse specialist.

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Follow up appointments

It is usual for you to be followed up by the Surgeon in the Outpatients clinics two to six weeks after your surgery. This is to review your progress and discuss future care.

Your GP will have received a written summary of your hospital stay. They will also receive a letter after your Outpatient clinic visit, informing them of the plan for your future care.

The following signs and symptoms are especially important:
  • Chest pain
  • Calf pain or swelling
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fever or chills
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Bleeding
  • Increasing abdominal pain
  • If your abdominal wound becomes red, painful or has a discharge.

If you have any of these signs and symptoms or any other concerns regarding your health after your discharge from hospital, please seek advice from:

  1. Colorectal Clinical Nurse Specialist, Monday to Friday, during normal working hours. Telephone: (07) 5798652, 0277 038277, helen.collins@bopdhb.govt.nz
  2. Your GP or an After Hours Surgery.

  3. The District Nursing Service - You may have been referred to this service in which case the District Nurses will contact you. They can also answer any phone questions - Telephone 07 5798000

In an Emergency Please Dial 111 for an Ambulance.


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Last updated: October 16, 2017