Open Extended Right Hemicolectomy, What a mouthful…..This is the operation that I undertook just over three weeks ago and am still recovering from. So what is an open extended right hemicolectomy you may ask… Well it involved my abdomen being cut open and certain parts of my large bowel being removed. I am unsure exactly what sections were removed at this stage as I have not yet had the follow up appointment, but it looks as though I have lost part of the transverse colon and descending colon. With this my primary tumour and another growth were also removed…yay!!! I have been left with a large cut down by stomach which really doesn’t bother me. If anything it is a physical reminder of my journey.
The surgery itself only took two hours, as opposed to the six hours that was first predicted, and I was in the recovery ward for five hours. In total I spend nine nights and 10 days at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre in Melbourne, Victoria. Recovery was going well until my bowels decided they didn’t want to open. After about six days I started to vomit large quantities and the decision to put in a nasal gastric tube was made. I had heard horrible stories of this tube but never experienced it first hand. Basically a small tube is fed up your nose and pushed down the back of your throat until it reaches your stomach. From what I understand this tube is normally used to carry food to the stomach via the small tube. In my situation it was used to removed excess food from my stomach so that I no longer vomited. This is one of the worst experience of my journey so far. The first attempt at getting the tube in resulted in a blood nose (being on blood thinners didn’t help this situation) with the second attempt more successful. If you have ever had something go too far up your nose you will begin to understand the feeling. The tube is pushed up the nose and then twisted around until an opening is found. In the meantime your eyes start to water and you are fighting the urge to pull your head back. Once in, the tube then makes it’s way down the throat, which even through they give you numbing spray, you feel every bit of. Swallowing water helps get the tube down the throat. Once in place the tube is attached to your nose with tape to stop it from falling out. For the next two days I couldn’t talk, eat or swallow without the tube being tugged and pulled at. Finally my bowels opened and the tube could come out. This again was not a pleasant experience, but not as bad as getting it put in. The nurse basically pulls it out as fast as possible whilst you fight the urge to vomit.
With all of this going on I was thankfully pumped with painkillers. Initially I was on self medicated morphine fed to me via a drip. I was then changed to Oxycodone-Naloxone (Targin), which is a slow release pain killer, twice a day with Paracetamol every six hours. I also had Oxycodone (Endone) at my disposal if I had additional pain. In addition I was given Metoclopramid (Pramin), Ondansetron (Ondansetron An) and Cyclizine (Nausicalm) for nausea three times a day and a Enoxaparin Sodium (Clexane) injection into the thigh to stop my blood from clotting. I was also sent home with all of these medications to continue using. The concept of taking so many pills was new to me given I didn’t particularly like taking Panadol at the best of times.
So with my bowels opened and me eating well on a soft food diet (steamed fish, mashed potatoes, steamed veggies, etc.), I was finally able to be released on the tenth day. The nurse removed 20 of my 40 staples and gave the wound a quick clean. All in all I was healing really well. The remaining 20 staples and six stitches were removed five days later at my local GP. I have heard many people complain of pain whilst having staples removed. Personally, I didn’t find it that bad. I found it similar to someone slowly plucking a hair on my stomach. I had a further three visits to my local GP to change the dressing and so that they could monitor my progress.
So, three and a bit weeks later I am healing nicely. I have no more dressings on the wound and I am starting to use Bio-Oil to minimise the scaring. Now we wait. I have my follow up appointment in a few days and an appointment with the oncologist to discuss future chemotherapy.