Hi, my name is Clare and I had emergency surgery to remove my large bowel and to form an ileostomy. Because it was emergency surgery, I didn’t get the opportunity to ask questions beforehand, and I think it would have helped me cope better with what I had to face. As hindsight is always a good thing, here are a few of the questions I would have asked my surgeon.
1. What is the name of the surgery I am having?
2. Will I be able to have keyhole surgery, and if not, what will my scarring be like?
3. How long will I be in hospital for? And will I get any support when I am home?
4. What anaesthetic will I be given, and what pain relief ?
5. What complications are likely to occur and what usually is done for them?
6. Have you performed many of these types of surgery?
7. Will I need further surgery in the future?
8. Will this affect my fertility?
9. Will it affect my bladder as the surgery is very close?
10. Who do I get in touch with afterwards if I have any problems?
11. What is the recovery time for this surgery and when will I be able to return to work/school/the gym etc
12. Is there anything that I won’t be able to do once I have this surgery?
13. Is this surgery temporary or permanent?
14. Can I have some reading materials about the stoma? Will I have a stoma nurse to help me?
15. Is there anything else you think I should know?
Hopefully this will help get things in perspective before the surgery. I also feel it might help if I list some terminology used with this type of surgery.
Colostomy – a surgical opening from the colon to the skin surface of your tummy.
Ileostomy – as above but with he small bowel (ileum).
Urostomy – as above but for urine to be collected into a bag rather than stool.
Peristomal skin – The skin immediately surrounding the stoma.
Lumen – The open end of the stoma where the waste comes out.
Ileus – A common problem following bowel surgery where the bowel is inactive / slow to start working.
Appliance – Bag or pouch that sits over the stoma collecting the contents.
Closed bag – These are bags usually for colostomies, as the stool is more solid and not as continuous as ileostomies.
Drainable bag – Where you can open or seal the bag at the bottom to empty the contents.
Flange – The baseplate of a two piece bag system, sometimes a two piece bag helps with problems of fitting the bag around the stoma and enables you to replace the bag part but leave the base on for longer.
Ballooning – Where gas fills the bag making it bulge.
Pancaking – Where stool gets under the base of the bag and stops the bag sticking properly.
Over granulation – Where the skin around the stoma produces too many white cells, and the skin builds up making it thick in parts. It can occur through irritation and a medical professional can sometimes put silver nitrate on them to remove it.
I hope this has given you an understanding of bowel surgery in general.