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Unexpected open abdo surgery. Help dealing with recovery pain please!!! Ouch!!!

(27 Posts)
PeachyPossum Fri 08-Feb-13 08:41:14


I am freshly home after abdo surgery and wanted to ask for help and ideas dealing with the pain. I can only take paracetamol! I have cushions and a hot water bottle.

I went in for elective Nissan fundoplication on Saturday due to extreme reflux and associated side effects. Whilst on the table an artery was severed the retracted into my spleen. I was opened immediately and the spleen removed, I had two transfusions and have made a really good recovery so far. I am dealing with the pain from keyhole incisions as well as an incision from my bust to my bikini line. Bowels are functioning and I am eating little and often. I have to take anti biotics for life and these I think are contributing to the bowel pain.

Night times are worse, I cannot get comfortable and have deep back ache which I cannot shift, then I have bowel cramping and general pain from trauma during the op.

Tbh I am fairly upbeat (bloody lucky to have survived an arterial bleed out!!) but anything to ease the pain would be so welcome.

PetiteRaleuse Fri 08-Feb-13 08:49:20


I had big abdo surgery and had similar pains to you. I assume you've been told not to take NSAIDs, which is good.

Keep on top of the paracetamol and rest a lot, but also you do need to make sure you move every day. It's ironic but you feel you need to lie up all the time but walking is good for you. So, progressively longer walks, and lots of rest.

Don't overdo it. No housework, no sport, nothing which pulls. One of my internal stitches popped when I sneezed, and now am at greater risk of hernia. Cushion over wound when sneezing and coughing will help.

You will feel better soon, day by day, but it is slow. By about six weeks post op you'll be ok.

PetiteRaleuse Fri 08-Feb-13 08:53:36

Just re-read. Walking will help with the back ache too. Just short distances at first, round the room. Don't carry anything.

PetiteRaleuse Fri 08-Feb-13 09:09:17

I've just thought of another point. When standing try and stand up straight. It will help your back and ab muscles get back into shape. Don't try and pull your tummy in for a good few weeks yet, just let your back do the work.

giraffesCantEatNHSPotatoes Fri 08-Feb-13 09:11:30

Goodness Poor you! Not really sure but do you have anything good to watch in evenings! Or nights? When in lots of pain could help distract. From it

PeachyPossum Fri 08-Feb-13 09:21:04

Thanks guys.

I did watch lots of csi last night, eventually I woke my mr and we went downstairs and refilled my hot water bottle and I had a bit of a boo. I managed about 3 hours sleep so ver grateful for having sky multiroom lol!!

I have been walking a bit, but still in bed at the moment! I have been pacing the bedroom every hour or so! I haven't been standing straight and think ou are right, this could be loads better for my back.

Popped an internal stitch!, eeuuuwwww. That sounds so sore!! Isn't it amazing how you have no stitches on the outside!

It's just such claustrophobic pain, you can't get comfortable or escape it and I can only lay on my back which I hate!!

PetiteRaleuse Fri 08-Feb-13 09:43:43

It is horrible, I understand. I had my ab surgery cut from breastbone down to belly button three weeks after a c section. I also survived an arterial bleed, and the fact that they will possibly have ligated your artery and your system will have had to reroute itself a little will also be extra pressure on yor body and tiring you out.

The stitch popping wasn't as bad as it might sound. It stung, but was nothing compared to what you'e going through now.

We tend not to stand up straight as it does hurt plus you kind of feel that everhing will fall out, iyswim. It won't, and standing up straight will do half the recovery for you as far as your poor battered ab muscles are concerned.

Sounds like you have been very unlucky but lucky too. Look after yourself and follow the doctors' advice.

PetiteRaleuse Fri 08-Feb-13 09:45:16

You sound upbeat. Tt's great. Be prepared for some down moments, where you're fed up of the pain and kind of realise what has happened to you and how bloody unfair it is but how bad it could have been. It's hard, I still find it hard two years on.

Leverette Fri 08-Feb-13 10:04:34

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PeachyPossum Fri 08-Feb-13 10:06:59

Oh dear god, doing this after a c section? How on earth did you cope?

I have had some rubbish moments but my husband firmly steers me away from it. He wants me to see I survived and the original op is successful. I cried when I left hospital just because it hit me that I had walked myself in there pre op with no idea how close I would come to never seeing my babies again, daft mare. There are moments where I can't cope with the constant pain, night time being the worst. I can't imagine ever getting back to being me! But I will!!!

Thank you for taking time to post today xx

ClaimedByMe Fri 08-Feb-13 10:08:58

Probably not too helpful but peppermint tea to help calm the bowel pain, also are you drinking actimel type yoghurts they help the tummy when you are on antibiotics.

Sounds awful, wishing you a speedy recovery.

PeachyPossum Fri 08-Feb-13 10:09:13

I have Crohn's disease so most painkillers make me sick, antibiotics give me tummy ache/ upset tummy and anti inflammatorys trigger Crohns flares, I bloody hate Crohns right now, it is not the ideal combination!

PeachyPossum Fri 08-Feb-13 10:10:39

Texting the mr now for mint tea!! Thank you

PetiteRaleuse Fri 08-Feb-13 10:33:58

Like you I didn't have much choice but to cope. I'm not going to say you'll feel better every day - not immediately - but within a week you'll already feel much better, and then a little more every day. Psychologically it will be hard too from time to time. I cried too when I left hospital as I had thought I never would, and would never see my baby again. It was hard to imagine that life had been going on outside pretty much as normal while I had been fighting to stay alive, iyswim.

By about four weeks post op you'll feel so much better you'll be wanting to push yourself to see how much you can do. Don't.

And keep on top of that paracetamol. It's a great pain killer when used regularly, but don't wait til you're in agony to see how much pain you can stand, top it up every four to six hours, even if you think you don't need it.

VinoEsmeralda Fri 08-Feb-13 10:45:07

I used a little heat pad ( from argos i think)which I placed whenever i felt the need, has 3 different heat settings and it helped to reduce the pain.

I second the walking, little and often, you feel stronger every day, try and stand up straight as it is better for your back in my experience but take it slowly. In the 1st 3 weeks progress was noticable daily for me, able to walk more, able to sit for a while, little steps but made sure I looked back and realised I was slowly getting there.

PetiteRaleuse Sat 09-Feb-13 13:25:38

How are you feeling OP?

PeachyPossum Sun 10-Feb-13 08:42:16

Hi Petite,

I am doing well, thank you for asking smile

We have invested in heat pads and last night I slept most of the night with the back ache less pronounced, I hope it is working its way out of my system!

I'm curled up in bed this morning whilst dd10 puts my clean washing away and we have films on. Mr is cooking a roast later so I will try a little of that. Bit nervous of the meat as I know it can cause problems swallowing after the original op I had, but you have to face these things or life can never be normal again.

Good times and bad, I am still in pain constantly and today I should take my dressing off but I'm scared, even for the keyhole ones never mind the huge one! I also get a burning pain in one section of the large wound when I move wrong which I think is a stitch pulling so I am being really careful.

Do your scars bother you? I don't think mine will, and have seen a bikini I want for the summer, but only time can tell. My husband isn't bothered at all by them which massively helps!

PetiteRaleuse Sun 10-Feb-13 20:31:38

Hi. No the scars don't bother me. The c section one is most visible as it was reopened a few weeks ago for another baby, so will need more time to heal. The vertical stomach one is now a silver line, like an old stretchmark. I'm a long way off wearing a bikini but that's more to do with untoned post pregnancy belly than the scars.

I look at them as war wounds anyway. Yes, a nasty reminder of what happened, but also a reminder of how lucky I am to have got through it.

Taking the dressing off and giving them air will help healing.

Zavi Sun 10-Feb-13 22:06:52

When I had surgery that severely restriced my mobility the ONE thing that really, really helped me was making the decision, myself, to take control of my mobility.

I forced myself to get mobile. I mobilised every hour, on the hour, for 5 mins. Without fail.

I amazed everyone !

I felt in control. I felt that I was exceeding "expectations". I made it clear to myself that I was in charge of my body (easy to be deluded that you're not after surgery!).

With THAT attitude I never looked back (wasn't easy at first though, I'll give you that)

PeachyPossum Mon 11-Feb-13 08:04:20

Morning smile

I am off to the dr today to try and get some relief for my back. I can cope with everything else but my back is awful! We were planning to walk (5 minutes) but probably not the best idea in the snow. We did walk up to the main road and back yesterday.

Also have a head ache today so I think I'm dehydrated which we will work on today (will grab dirolyte).

I am coping with food but I'm guessing not enough, I weighed 12st 7lbs when I went into to surgery and I'm 11st12 this morning. Weight loss is normal and expected with the original keyhole surgery but I think I need to make sure I'm getting everything I need!

It's a very helpless frustrating feeling isn't it. You do everything you can but ultimately your body needs time! I'm still upbeat,still having the odd bad moments! Determined to get rid of the bloody backache! It's moving around my back - was in my hips, first right then left and now is middle of my back above my waist. It's so hard to rest and recoup with bloody constant backache!

I have been lazy in the mornings, then shower and fresh pjs. Downstairs pacing and sofa hugging for a few hours then back upstairs for another shower then bed.

Wish I could fast forward past this! The snow is very pretty to look at though ;)

Congratulations on your baby petite! Xx

PetiteRaleuse Mon 11-Feb-13 14:53:04

Did they give you antibiotics? i ask because I got awful headaches with mine post surgery.

Yes, please don't risk slipping in the snow, it really wouldn't help.

A little progress every day. I used a feeding cushoon to support my back when sitting. Good luck with the Dr. And well done on your walk yesterday.

Don't overdo it. You don't need to tire yourself out, but in a few weeks you'll be happy to walk miles. You'll get there smile

OrangeFlower7 Tue 12-Feb-13 09:42:23

Hi can I ask why you need to take antibiotics for life? I am just wondering as I have also had open abdo surgery too and although got lots of IV antibiotics in hospital didn't get any tablets to take home. Thanks.

dondon33 Tue 12-Feb-13 14:24:17

I'm not sure if you can still buy them but the huge V shaped pillows were of huge comfort to my back after open abdo surgery. I'd pop it on top of my usual pillows so the V point was supporting my spine while the 2 arms of the pillow gave some support to my sides - very comfortable and transferable from bed to sofa.
Wishing you a speedy recovery x

OrangeFlower7 Tue 12-Feb-13 16:12:17

Sorry I just thought I suppose you need antibiotics if spleen removed, sorry my post not very helpful! I hope you start to feel better soon, and the backache eases up a bit.

PeachyPossum Tue 12-Feb-13 19:12:41

Brilliantly the back ache seemed to disappear right after I paid for the back cream prescription! I'm hoping that's the end of it, fingers crossed.

Yesterday and today have been good days, had a walk around Tesco yesterday after the dr and then to Bookers today, coped well with both but kept my feet up after. Tomorrow I plan to spend a little time in the kitchen, slow cooker gammon and mac & cheese to make, simple and quick but a bit of normality!

My dressings are now off, the hole where I had the drain will scar badly but I think the keyhole scars will be very minimal. The main scar is a bit wonky but was carried out in an emergency so I'm not complaining!

OrangeFlower, yup, the Anti bees are for the spleen removal, I haven't looked completely at that yet, its a bit scary. I have also had loads of vaccinations with more to come 4 weeks after surgery.

Thank you for all of the support x

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