You had surgery to remove your large intestine. Your anus and rectum also may have been removed. You also may have had an ileostomy.
What to Expect at Home
If your rectum or anus remains, you may still have the feeling that you need to move your bowels. You may also leak stool or mucus during the first few weeks.
If your rectum has been removed, you may feel the stitches in this area. It may feel tender when you sit.
You will probably have pain when you cough, sneeze, and make sudden movements. This may last for several weeks but will improve over time.
It may take several weeks for you to get back to your normal activities. Ask your doctor if there are activities you should not do.
Start by taking short walks.
Increase your exercise slowly. DO NOT push yourself too hard.
Your doctor will give you pain medicines to take at home.
If you are taking pain medicine 3 or 4 times a day, take them at the same times each day for 3 to 4 days. They control pain better this way.
DO NOT drive or use other heavy machines if you are taking narcotic pain medicines. These medicines may make you drowsy and slow your reaction time.
Try getting up and moving around if you are having pain in your belly.
Press a pillow over your incision when you need to cough or sneeze. This helps ease pain.
Ask your doctor when you should begin taking your regular medicines again after surgery.
If your staples have been removed, you will probably have Steri-Strips (small pieces of tape) placed across your incision. These pieces of tape will fall off on their own. If your incision was closed with a dissolving suture, you may have had a liquid glue covering the incision. This glue will loosen and can be peeled off after a few weeks.
Ask your health care provider when you can shower or soak in a bathtub.
It is ok if the Steri-Strips get wet. DO NOT soak or scrub them.
Keep your wound dry at all other times.
The Steri-Strips will fall off on their own after a week or two.
Debra G. Wechter, MD, FACS, General Surgery practice specializing in breast cancer, Virginia Mason Medical Center, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.