What people with IBD should know

I am often asked, “What would you tell someone recently diagnosed with IBD?” So, this is what I think you should know! Look out for clickable links in this blog, leading to more detailed information! For many, a definitive diagnosis is a massive relief after a long period of being unwell. This does not mean that acceptance is easy, after all, you have just been diagnosed with a chronic disease which has no cure. Do NOT panic, we’ve got this, life is not over! It is worth pointing out that no two IBD patients’ lives are the same. The disease does not always manifest in the same way, and the fact that a treatment works for one person does not mean it will work for another. This makes IBD notoriously difficult to treat. That said, some IBD patients may have one flare, find the right medication straight away and never have another, and that is fantastic! For the rest of us, being diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease or Ulcerative Colitis may mean some lifestyle changes and som

Post-op ileus after bowel surgery

I went to see my surgeon yesterday to arrange the excision of my jpouch. The appointment went as expected; I had taken a list of general queries such as expected hospital stay time and what I should expect to wake up with in terms of drains and catheters etc, and nothing came as a surprise. 

It was actually my mum mentioning that I ALWAYS end up with an NG tube after surgery that prompted my learning.
You may have heard ileus being referred to in a number of ways, such as bowel paralysis, the bowel falling asleep or paralytic ileus. It simply means that you are unable to pass anything because the intestine is not contracting as it should to move the contents along the intestine to its evacuation point, so instead of going down, it usually comes back up.

Postoperative ileus is a pretty common complication after bowel surgery, but it has happened to me 5 times out of 6, leading to the pretty traumatic insertion of an NG tube and usually about a week of watching bile slide its way down the tube hanging out of my nose. I also appear to have a particularly sensitive throat, so from the second it goes in, I cannot speak without irritating the inside of my throat, gagging and watching the bile flow a little more rapidly. Then, there is the fact I have to stay nil by mouth. I struggle with my weight anyway, so a week without food takes its toll on my already scrawny body. For me, being unable to talk is a nightmare in itself, but the constant retching and watery eyes just add insult to injury, so it’s definitely the most distressing part of any surgery. I always say I'd rather 10 cameras up my arse than one tube down my throat...

It is particularly important to have an NG tube inserted to prevent gagging and the natural way your abdominal muscles respond to this. After having surgery on your abdomen, this could cause further complications and injury.

Anyway, back to my appointment. My surgeon informed me that pre-op administered Dexamethasone has been effective in preventing/reducing post-op ileus. I did take a look online to see if any research backed this up and there are studies, but not specific to bowel surgery. I will be requesting it anyway, what harm can it do?!