I’ve had a very nice meeting with Dr. Cusnir this week and told him about my weird abdominal pains. Turns out the symptoms I was describing point to a very common side effect of abdominal surgery called Abdominal Adhesions. These are very fine strands of tissue that stick together where usually it wouldn’t, a bit like if you put chewing gum between two pages of a book. Try to separate them and you can imagine what adhesions look like.
They often form in between the free flowing part of the small intestine, which then tends to get mildly (or severely) obstructed, which would tally up with my experiences of light sweat, nausea and severe pain. Sadly I’ve had this one too many times to ignore, and I have reason to believe that I’ll need further surgery to get rid of these adhesions.
However, therein lies the problem: surgery is really the only option to cut these buggers up and remove the problem, but it also then creates an “opportunity” for future adhesions. Hence doctors don’t recommend surgery as the first and only option. Dr. Cusnir said that if I can manage it somehow, it might be wise to avoid surgery. I’ve been doing just that over the last few weeks: I’ve reduced my portion sizes to go super easy on my digestive tract, I’ve eaten a lot less, and it resulted in me being several pounds lighter (195lb was the lowest I’ve weighed, which is a good 5-8lb lighter than my usual weight). While weight loss sounds great, it’s not a sustainable solution to my problem.
This evening after a bit of cereal and a slice of bread, I’ve had a severe episode as a result and thought I’ll make a note of what foods seem to be working for me at the moment:
- soft stuff like mashed potatoes and fish
- cereal (if it’s a small portion of around 1/2 cup)
- Dave’s Killer Bagels (half)
- honey, chocolate spread and butter
- scrambled egg, fries
What doesn’t work so well:
- anything with large amounts of fibre (like sprouted bread)
- vegetable-heavy dishes
- cheese and yoghurt (I guess its bacteria may cause gas that gets trapped)
I’ve also had nasty experiences with my beloved Vega protein shakes with coconut milk, but only once when I had it with a yoghurt. I’ll give it another shot tomorrow and see if it might work for me. My immediate problem is that I can’t continue to east as little as I do forever.
The Action Plan
On the 6th of March, I have a CT scan scheduled. It probably won’t show any signs of the adhesions due to their thin size, but it may give an indication of potential obstructions. I’m due a colonoscopy and will make an appointment with my favourite colon surgeon Dr. Szomstein to discuss after the scan. It’ll be great to see him again, and I’m sure he has some advice on how to deal with this.
Until then, I’ll stick to my “small portions” and “mainly fluids” diet with the intention of avoiding further pain. Something else that’s worked wonders are the Queasy Drops by Three Lollies. We found out about them during the chemo years, and they are fantastic to combat any feelings of nausea. Well remembered, Miss Julia!
While I hadn’t quite expected it, there may be some follow up surgery on the cards for me this year. I’ll keep you posted!