The first 7 days after bowel obstruction surgery

Bowel Obstruction Surgery Recovery
Friday June 1st started out like any other work day and little did I know that within 72 hours I would be recovering from major bowel obstruction surgery. I woke up at 6:45 and got myself ready for work. I was having some pretty sharp pains but shook them off as I got Abby ready for daycare. For once I was actually on time dropping her off and getting to my office on time.

Through the morning, the pain started getting worse. There were moments where I could not sit up straight. It was a pain like I had never felt. At 10am, I finally had to throw in the towel and went home to try to take pain medicine and try to sleep off the pain.

By noon, I knew something major was wrong. The pain was increasing despite medication and I had begun vomiting and it was really dark. It was time to get to the hospital.

John was out of town officiating a wedding so I had a friend drive me to the ER. They took me straight back and put me in a room. The first order of business was lab work. Two young women came in the room wielding needles and I knew by the “trainee” that was listed on their badges that it was not going to be pretty. Four people and six sticks later we finally had success with drawing blood and starting an IV.

I don’t remember much of what took place between the time I arrived at the ER (which was around 12:30) and the time I was admitted (around 8pm). I had three wonderful friends at church rotate shifts so that I wouldn’t have to be there alone. Words cannot describe how grateful I was to have someone there to hold my hand and support me through a pretty scary ordeal.

Shortly before I was admitted, I was taken down to radiology for a CT scan. Within the hour I was told I had a bowel obstruction, I was going to be admitted to the hospital, and would likely end up in surgery.

It was all such a blur. I’m not sure if it was the hustle of all the staff in and out of the room, the intensity of the pain, or the side effects of the pain medicine they had given me. It was likely a mixture of all three.

Thankfully I had support to get through it especially since John was out of town. I am honestly not sure what I would have done without my wonderful friend and spoonie sister Mamie. She stepped in to be my advocate without blinking an eye. She asked the questions that needed answers that I was unable to ask myself. When we found out I was going to be admitted, she drove to my house and packed up things that I would need the next couple days. She made calls to my primary doctor’s office to let her know what was happening. She was totally a lifesaver.

Around 8pm, I was moved upstairs and to the room I would spend the next seven days. Bright and early on Saturday morning, we began the upper GI to try to locate and assess the severity of the obstruction. If you’ve ever had one of these, you know that it is not a pleasant experience. The barium is hard enough to drink on a normal basis but when you’ve been nauseated and throwing up the previous 24 hours it is more than a challenge.

I got most of it down. The next several hours included going back and forth to radiology for x-rays. By the afternoon, my parents had arrived from VA. Dad went to the house to take care of the dogs who had been alone the night before while Mom kept me company. By that night, I was once again very sick. All of the barium I had drank decided it needed to come back up. It doesn’t taste any better the second time around.

The next morning was my final x-ray. When my doctor came to deliver the news that surgery was imminent, I was alone. My husband had made it back to town but he was at church. My mom went home to shower and pack me some things for the next several days. I remember him telling me that I had a total bowel obstruction and he would be taking me to surgery within the hour. I remember texting John and my parents to come to the hospital ASAP.

I have no recollection of the next two days. I do not remember being taken down to surgery. I do not remember recovery or being returned to my room. I vaguely remember my mom telling me that the surgery was over and that he had to remove ten inches of my small bowel because it had gotten wrapped around scar tissue (likely from my surgery in August) and had died. Gangrene had started to set in and had I not went to the ER on Friday it would have been so much worse. I just knew that I had a huge bandage covering most of my torso.

My memory began to come back around Wednesday. My mom would sit with me during the day so John could work and then John would take the night shifts. Pain was pretty manageable with the pain pump but I was still fighting a lot of nausea. I blew two more IV lines after surgery so I ended up with a PICC line. It was Wednesday that they removed the bandage for the first time. I cried. A lot. I was not prepared for what I saw. I had roughly a 12 inch incision with roughly 35 staples. When I asked the doctor why the incision was so big, he replied that he couldn’t fix anything he couldn’t see. Good point.

By Thursday I was able to move up from clear liquids to full liquids and then moved to full diet on Friday. You would think the hospital would have more gluten-free options but my meals consisted of baked chicken and jello. It was better than chicken broth!

Saturday morning, I got my walking papers and was discharged. I felt pretty good when I left. Pain was still pretty high but knowing the expected recovery time was eight weeks and the massive incision left behind, it didn’t seem too early or didn’t raise any flags.

John took me home and had our room set up to make me as comfortable as possible before heading off to the diabetic camp he works at every summer. We planned on a quiet, low-key weekend while I rested and my mom chased Abby.

We were wrong.

I love hearing from you!

    • I Just had this surgery on Thursday. I went in to the hospital last Tues night same symptoms was throwing up and had surgery on Thursday. Just today I started sipping on clear liquids, So hopefully tomorrow it will be full liquids or soft food. This was all caused from adhesions and also another part of my intestine was floating freely and wrapping around itself. They had to straighten and sew that back. This is most likely cause from surgery when I was 14, 12 years ago. I had a volvulous and 4 feet of my small intestine was taken out. So I definitely feel your pain from this. How are things now have you had any other obstructions from scar tissue and adhesions? Some doctors say it could happen again and others say it is unlikey. Thanks!

      • I had the same surgery a few years back – had second opinion and also told only 10% chance of obstruction again – then I had another but thank goodness only partial and just got out of the hospital with same – Have had seven abdominal surgeries so I blame adhesions, etc. Nervous about diet, etc.

        • My GI doctor says its only a matter of time until I have another obstruction because of my surgical history (I’ve had six abdominal surgeries). In fact, he knows adhesions have returned and are impacting bowel function but I cannot find a surgeon that will go in preemptively because I am considered too “high risk” because of my obstruction history. So now I just feel like a ticking time bomb. The obstruction, emergency surgery, and extremely tough recovery (had two partials within six weeks of surgery that required hospitalization) were extremely traumatic and my anxiety has been sky high ever since because I am terrified of it happening all over again.

          • I’ve been going through this same thing. The latest cost me 5 days in the hospital and scared my family. I didn’t like the tube up my nose and down into my stomach, but the doctor said do that or surgery. Not again! I feel like I’m a ticking time bomb as I’m not to eat food that tends to stick together (like peanut butter), nothing that would irritate & then swell my intestines as the scar tissue has made the intestines smaller diameter (how do I know what will irritate them until it happens?) do Metamucil 3x a day (interferes with other medicines so you have time it just right), and a stool softener every day. Yes, this “recovering” from multiple abdominal surgeries is a “chronic” problem. I want to look into methods (other than surgery) to remove scar tissues. Here’s praying!

          • Ihi my name is Jeremy and I have had crohns for 13 years, 6 surgery to remove intestines, 12 abcest removal , months of physical therapy. That’s not all the time that I had to go to the hospital for obstruction in my bowl, have ad this happen between 20 and thirty time I hoad this surgery in 2010 were the took two feet of large and small intestine and connected the back wrong it looks like a t. The was the put it back spent an entire year in the hospital , they removed a 2 feet, I was on a feed tube for a year and I got down l lost a 100 pounds and now weigh 120 pound Has anybody gone. With out eating for a entire year other than clear liquid
            due to infections, 6 months in to my year stay my lungs collapsed and I spent month in the ICU, since then I have been in and out of the hospital with obstruction at least 20 of them, I probably will have have to have another
            surgery soon I am scared that I will not make it thru this on considering I almost died on the last on, I have tried to have a life but it is hard when I am in pain all the time, and when I do go out I can’t everything I used and can’t eat what I what too, sometimes I just want to give up and say enough is enough, how can I live a normal life, just wish there people like I could talk to, but I guess not, I hate going to a restaurant and have know we’re the bathroom are just case, I should not have to do this, I should be able to take somebody out to a nice dinner and not have be worried when I would to go next, well thanks for letting me vent. My email is just in case somebody else needs to vent

          • How do you pay for this. My first was private insurance my second was Medicaid now I am disabled on Medicare and this hospital bill is $43000. Should I have just died and what if it happens again. I can’t even repair my home let alone afford to repair ME!

          • Thankfully I had double health coverage at the time so my bill was covered but there was a time that I went to see one of the top (if not THE top) endometriosis specialist in the country and since it was out of network, I had to pay a significant portion out of pocket for the surgery so I had to make payments and my family helped out as much as they could. Since my disability was finally approved last November, I am now on Medicare so I’m a little nervous about receiving the bill from my last hospital stay. It really is difficult. The ridiculous things they charge you for will make your head spin. I remember looking at the itemized bill from my obstruction surgery and the charge for the stapler they used to close me up was something like $500. I should have been able to take that sucker home! LOL! And don’t get me started on the the pharmacy bills. It is really, really hard.

          • I have just come back to England from Scotland visiting a friend who’s had bowel obstruction surgery. Here is the UK everyone has free medical care – so we only need to worry about our health, not any bills. We can have as much treatment and many surgeries as we want and it’s always free! We have some of the most advanced facilities in the world. Everyone pays tax to pay for it in proportion to their income and the system is nationalised so there is no profit taking. Actually we do pay for medications at a flat rate of ยฃ7.50 but kids, over 60s , people with chronic illnesses and people on low incomes don’t need to pay it (so that’s about 50% of the population don’t pay). Our docs and nurses are very well paid as well. Don’t believe the propaganda they feed you in America about it – the National Health Service is one of the most loved British institutions and you deserve a NHS too!

          • This is my story . wow my doctor told me the same thing. I had one already but its like I have to have another one for them to go in. I had 6 surgery as well. Have another cyst on ovary and stage 5 endo. Please keep me updated what happened. I feel the same just waiting. Smdh

          • Two bowel obstructions in two months both 3-5 day hospital stays. Five months still have bloat and pain! New kind of normal?

          • It took me a really long time to recover from my bowel obstruction surgery. I actually had to partial obstructions in the process of healing from my total bowel obstruction surgery (both of which required hospitalization). Did you have to have surgery at all?

          • Jamee. Yes two resections and one hernia surgery plus major adhesions in two months. Still have bloating and pain. Mayo clinic Drs think I am still healin from surgeries after five months.

          • It took me a VERY long time to heal. Definitely 6 months before I was able to feel remotely “normal” and still don’t feel like I ever fully recovered as I have continued to have issues due to additional scar tissue spreading leading to more obstructions, yada, yada, yada. Some people just make a lot of scar tissue. It sucks. I really, REALLY hope they come up with some advancements in scar tissue prevention.

          • Jamee, I am getting close to six months since the second surgery and eight months since the first. I have most of my discomfort in my midriff area. I am suppose to eat six small meals a day and I never really feel hungry. I feel better if I don’t eat and if I eat too much I hurt . Usually standing or laying down helps . Gut sounds are off the charts even when my stomach is empty. I can be constipated one minute and diareah the next. The only soLuton they could give me at mayo was. miralax daily. I take it every other day or I am in the bathroom all day every day.

            Can you tell me how long it’s been since your first surgery and what you had that caused all the adhesions. I just want to know what is normal and what to expect. Thanks for your support!

          • My surgery for my total bowel obstruction was in June of 2012. I was re-hospitalized twice in the 6 weeks following the surgery for partial obstructions that thankfully were able to clear on their own with NPO. Since then I have been re-hospitalized an addition 2 times for partial bowel obstructions (Nov 2015 and Feb 2016) and again because we caught them early (I’m a pro at what throwing up coffee grounds means), we were able to catch them early and clear with NPO versus surgery. However, we now know that I am eat up with adhesions throughout my abdominal cavity that means a major obstruction is imminent but I am considered too “high risk” to go in pre-emptively so we have to wait for me to totally obstruct so we can go back in.

            I have have 7 abdominal surgeries total which is the cause of all my adhesions. It started with endometriosis which was the cause of the first 5 (3 laparoscopies, 1 total abdominal hysterectomy w/ BSO, and 1 laparotomy to remove endometriosis after hysterectomy). Then I had my total bowel obstruction in 2012 hat required a full laparotomy incision from the sternum down. The last was having my gallbladder removed laparoscopically last June (2015) which is when they noticed all the adhesions. I am one of those worse case scenarios because of my history. Having 7 abdominal surgeries in 12 years does not bode well.

            After my first obstruction surgery, it was definitely a long, slow recovery and it took me quick a while before I started to feel remotely “normal” again and from what I understand in talking with other patients, that seems to be the norm. It took me a long time to get my appetite back and also felt better if I just didn’t eat but that hurts you in the long run as your stomach and gut “forget” how to do their jobs so when you do eat there is more pain and discomfort. I would stick to soft foods and aim for 3 meals a day (I still struggle a lot because of the amount of adhesions I have). 6 meals a day (even if small) may still be too much at this point. But I am not a doctor so don’t take my experience over his expertise. When I can’t get myself to eat anything, I still try to get something down with some vitamins and protein. Smoothies are a great option to sneak in protein,vitamins and minerals.

            Two really important keys to remember when recovering from any type of bowel surgery (or any surgery for that matter) is to 1) Keep hydrated. Drink a lot of water. It keeps the bowels moving. 2) Get active. I know that sounds like a tough one when all you want to do is curl up in the fetal position but any type of activity helps. Even 5 or 10 minutes a day. Start by walking to the mail box. Then the stop sign. Then maybe the next one. Activity promotes cellular regeneration, increase in muscle strength, increase in muscle performance (aka your bowels will work better!), and overall your body just feel better. I am still learning day by day to keep these guidelines active on my life. I am definitely no pro! I hope this novel of a response was able to answer some of your questions! Please feel free to drop me another comment, or email, or even Facebook message if I didn’t get all of your questions answered!

          • This was helpful to read ladies. I just got out of the hospital a week and a half ago after having an 8 hour excision surgery for endometriosis, including removing endo from my bowels and ureters, uterus, reconstructing my ovaries, and removing my tubes. A few days after the surgery i developed an incisional strangulated hernia with a bowel obstruction. I had a second surgery after going to the ER and vomiting bile. It has been 3 weeks simce the first surgery and my gi tract has been all over the place from constant diarrhea for days, then constipation, and now abdominal cramping and loose stools. I don’t know what to eat to make it better and if i should take meds or not to help. I just having a heating pad on my belly to try to soothe the discomfort.

    • Gosh this was 4 years ago this post, I had this surgery nine months ago, then two weeks ago started having pain and knew all the tell tell signs, its been really hard on me this time around, I like you didn’t remember a whole lot after surgery until my walking papers, I’ve been home three days and airy was seven days ago but like I said my body is having a really hard time with this round I Pray these adhesions don’t come back again

      • I had esophageal surgery in 2014. I had my first small intestine surgery for adhesions July 2016. Doctors point the finger at that 2014 surgery as being responsible for the adhesion formations in the gut. I felt like I had an elephant standing on my gut last July, fast into ER, CT scans etc. and I was told I had obstructions. In post op the doctor educated me about intestinal adhesions, said there is nothing to prevent them and they return, meaning more surgeries. Well, 2 months 10 days later I was in ER again for another surgery. This time I was 3,000 miles away from home, strange city. I was told the same thing, It will happen again, sometime, someplace. So, I feel like a walking time bomb……..This second surgery has been harder to rebound from. Miserable. My wife and I love to travel. But, this has really put a hold on any future considerations. I suddenly feel life has become just a burden……In post op I have been told to have a fat free, fiber free diet. Mornings mean cream of wheat, afternoons chicken soup. I am so tired of this diet. How I would love a pizza and glass of wine!

        • Hello, My Husband also had esophageal surgery for Adenocarcinoma esophageal cancer. Surgery was May 2016. He had lots of gastrointestinal difficulty afterwards.December 2017 right before New year’s he was ill with a partial small bowel obstruction. They say scars from the surgery creating a kink in his tubing. They sent him home after a few days bowel rest and iv fluids. They were being conservative because more surgery would create more scar tissue and potential obstructions. But it flares up and he goes on a liquid diet then he gets through it. However, he was ill again this morning. He expressed in the evening he may need to consider surgery. He is very down about it and I can’t help being worried. The cancer treatment then the surgery were very difficult and scary , now this. I also have endometriosis so far treated with of all thing birth control. So far it seems to work so no surgery for me. He is 46 and I am 43.

  1. I just went through the same thing, very scary. Just wondering if everything is o.k. Now and how long it took.

  2. I jst had the same surgery how long did it fully take to recover or jst till you felt your normal self again

    • It took a very long time get some type of normalcy! I ended up with two partial obstructions during the healing process with each requiring several days in the hospital. I would say it was a good 10-12 weeks before I started to feel somewhat good again! Feel free to shoot me an email if you have specific questions about the recovery!

      • Jamee,

        I had the same surgery on August 1st and I am so scared to eat anything. Everything I eat hurts my stomach and I get bloated. they have me on ensure and I feel like I am gaining weight. Any suggestions.

      • My husband got operated for d same obstruction.Today is d 4th day.But only on iv fluid,Today he had shivers followed by fever. Doc says it is due to pus formation on the stapled area. Really worried.

        • I was on fluids only for almost a week post-op. Hopefully your husband didn’t end up with an infection and is feeling much better! The recovery from obstruction surgery is a rough one but taking one day at a time is the best way to go!

  3. thanks for the post, just having gone thru this over the holidays i know how alone this type of thing can make a person feel. i dont envy the road ahead but am grateful for the journey that is already behind me. thanks again for the inspiration

    • I am an expat from Washington living near Guadalajara, Mexico. That city has some amazing hospitals and skilled staff! I had obstructions in the small intestine, surgery July 15. I spent a week in the hospital and now back home. The pain is debilitating and my bowel is still sluggish. I feel like some war casualty who took a blast in the gut. Despite this pain I am told to walk, mandatory. Walking, they say, resettles the intestines and restores functionality. I need assistance to get up and each step feels like it could be the last in my life. While in the hospital they would ask me from time to time, “Are you farting? If so that is a good sign.” The pain I cannot definitely say where is mainly from, the long vertical incision or from the small intestine itself. This I do know, I feel recovery is a long haul and the trip we have had scheduled to Seattle in September, even though weeks away, I feel is in jeopardy. 67 year old male

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  5. Wow. Thank God that you are well. I am helping someone that just went through this surgery for a second time in seven years. I am overwhelmed but trying to just really be there for her, since she has no children or spouse. How hard was it for you to get up and start walking again and eating again? Thanks.

    • It took me a very long time to bounce back from this surgery. It was a good six to eight weeks before I felt like I got a part of my energy back and it was much longer for me to be able to resume a remotely normal diet. I was a good three months out from surgery before I really started to feel like myself again. I’ve had six surgeries total and this one was definitely the hardest by far.

      • I am going in for small bowel surgery. I have already had 3 abdominal surgeries do this still be my fourth. I am freaking out.

        • It was definitely a changing recovery but remember to take your time afterwards and give yourself plenty of time to heal! If you have any questions about recovery, feel free to drop me an email!

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  7. I just had that surgery just got home last nite I was in the hospital for 12 dys almost died before they could figure what was wrong with me . Those pains r gone just dealing with recovery and surgery pains which I know I will heel in time I can’t stand the bag tho the order is horrible . But they r sending me new bags with filter I hope that works anyone knows do they

    • Thankfully I did not have to deal with a bag after the surgery. I ended up having to be re-hospitalized two additional times because partial blockages during healing but thankfully had no other complications! I hope you have a speedy recovery and find healing and relief soon!

      • Hi, i just ran across these emails and nformation by happen chance. My girlfriend jackie who has LS is having a bowel obstructiin surgery later early this morning , please pray that she is as strong in spirit as you guys are and she does well in her recovery. I know that God has her and you all in the palm of his hands and he will continue to bribg you all through. Your Faith and Friendship is very inspiring to read. I too once had a huge adomen cut like that from indometrioses surgery stuck to my abdomen in 1997, soooooh painful, but yes this too shall pass,test to testamony, trials to triumph just as you all have done. God bless and continued healing for you all, the INSPIRATERS :).

      • I just got out of hospital did not have surgery but have partial obstruction. The Dr.’s where I live aren’t known for being very good even though I had a CT scan. He just put me on liquid diet until things move and then gradually go to soft good etc.. I’m still have some pain and am bloated. Am still concerned that some procedure should have been done.

        • Often time with a partial, a NG tube and NPO can help a partial obstruction pass without the need of surgery. However, if you are still having trouble I would contact your provider. I am sorry that it has taken me so long to respond to your comment. I have been out of commission since Christmas so I am playing catch up. After an infuriating night at the ER, I am ready to take the bull by the horns and quit waiting for a doctor to finally do something and take matters into my own hands. I really hope you are feeling better but if there is anything that I can do please feel free to contact me!

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  9. I had colon cancer resection July 10, 2012. I thought everything was going great until May 4, 2013 when I was in a lot of pain tying to work through it until I couldnt. We to ER around 12 noon and was admitted by 8pm after xrays, ct scan. At that point an NG tube was inserted and antibiotics added to the IV line along with pain meds. On May 9th the doctor stated surgery was not going to be able to be avoided as the antibiotics was not clearing the small bowel obstruction. So at 6am I went to surgery. My potassium was so low I had to have bags of that before I could go to surgery. I ended up with the surgeon going back in the original 12 inch incision from the colon cancer surgery. He stated he was very happy when he didn’t have to remove any of my small bowel. He performed lysis of adhesions, I had a heria also. I was released on May 16, 2013 and am healing, but have been noticing a seemingly fullness of late. Not experiencing any vomiting, but am a little worried as my abdomen looks a little bigger than it was this am. I must give kudos to the uplifing information provided on this site and thank God my situation was not worse.

  10. Hi, I had the same surgery about six weeks ago thouth I don’t feel pains anymore, I’m finding it difficelt to walk upright. Do you think I’m impatient or there is a problem.

    • It definitely took me a long time to feel “normal” again after surgery but if you feel like something is off, definitely go with your gut and ask your doctor!

    • In 1999 I had exploratory surgery which also included removal of Appendix and omentum. As a result of a21 day stay I was diagnosed as also having colitis. Sorry pain mess are kicking in , to be continued.

      • Thanks for writing. I had my surgery July 15 and post op has been difficult. The surgeon wanted to do laproscopic but found the intestines moved too much, feared perforating them. So he opened me up with a 7 inch incision that remains sensitive even after 5 weeks. The area around the belly button is sore. The doctor says I can apply Voltaren gel on the sore areas as long as the incision is completely closed…..Walking upright? Yes, gravity seems to pull and stretch on the incision area and that is painful. I notice my reflection in the terrace windows as I walk and I am leaning forward, look gaunt after losing 16 pounds. The intestines are sensitive yet. I have to eat small snack-like meals rather than full meals.
        I am told this recovery takes several months , not weeks. As far as walking uprightly this will take time I guess as the pains and sensitivity lessens over time, and you can stretch the abdomen a little more each week. I am told to do lots of walking, only on the level, not hills.

  11. Hi! Thank you for all the information you have provided. Question: is there a specific thing I can do for my friend who had this surgery yesterday? Anything that I can give her that she’d find comforting/useful as a gift?

    • Because of the incision and bloating after the surgery, you don’t want anything restricting at all! I don’t think I wore pants for weeks! A comfy nightgown would be a good gift I am sure she would appreciate! Things like magazines are great when you are stuck in bed! A Netflix subscription would be fun too! I did a post on a surgery survival kit that you might find helpful and will post a link for you as soon as I’m on my laptop! I hope these ideas help!

  12. I had a surgery May 22nd to remove adhesions from my abdomen. I felt great for 8 days. On The surgeon told me I had a bowel obstruction. I had to be on Iv fluids for a while because he wanted at least 20 days in between my surgeries. It was the most horrible experience ever. I have severe anxiety now, wondering if I will have another bowel obstruction. My stomach is still bloated 4 months later and bowels are still not under control. Any advice?

    • After my initial obstruction that required the surgery, I had two partials during the healing process that required hospital stays and IV nutrition only. It was most definitely one of the most terrifying and traumatic thing I have ever faced (my NG tube experience still gives me nightmares). I have had 5 other surgeries (which resulted in the scar tissue that created the total obstruction) but this was BY FAR the most difficult recoveries I have ever endured (beating out my abdominal total hysterectomy by a long shot). Like you I suffered with extreme anxiety for many, many months as I was terrified of another obstruction. Over a year later, the anxiety is lessened but not completely gone. My GI specialist told me that with my surgical history (and the likelihood of needing more surgeries in the future for endo) that I had a heightened risk of experiences another obstruction so I am closely monitored.

      It took me a good six months to feel even remotely “normal” GI-wise after the surgery. I stayed nauseated, had difficulty digesting anything besides soft foods, and felt very bloated. An obstruction is traumatic for the bowels so it takes awhile to recover. Stick with softer foods that are easier to digest and be sure to drink a lot of water. If you don’t feel like you are getting enough nutrients, you can try making smoothies at home (adding greens and protein powder with fruits) or drink Ensure. I stayed away from salads and raw veggies as they are harder to digest. I love steak but now I only eat it in small portions and drink a lot of water while eating it to aid in digestion. I hope these suggestions help.

      Did you end up needing surgery for the obstruction itself or did it clear with IVs and hospital monitoring? Do you have a GI doctor that you can follow up with? It is definitely a slow recovery but a follow-up may ease some of your anxiety. Feel free to contact me anytime here or you can shoot me an email!

      • yes, my obstruction required surgery. This was my 7th abdominal surgery. I had a ng tube for about a week. They tried to put it in before surgery and I couldn’t handle it. My belly is so bloated, I look pregnant ๐Ÿ™ I am seeing a therapist due to the depression and anxiety from the month long hospital stay. I am afraid to go anywhere, I can’t even walk or exercise due to having no control over my bowels. I am in constant fear it will happen again and will be more than just a small blockage and more than a 34 cm removal of my small intestine. I honestly don’t think I could go through that again

        • Our experiences sound to scarily familiar. They tried inserting the NG tube 15 times unsuccessfully and refused to sedate (which my GI dr was furious about when I told him after). The whole thing was a really traumatic experience and it sounds like it was the same for you. I have had killer abdominal pain the last 48 hours and I can’t help but be eat up with anxiety that it will happen again!

          • To all who have had small bowel obstructions and due to adhesions and scar tissues. There is hope! Check out . They use a hand on, sort of a deep tissue massage technique. I did this two weeks ago because I went to the hospital 3 times in the last month due to obstructions. It really did help get rid of the adhesions, however I still had another obstruction and surgery because and adhesions was actually choking my small intestine and hand of therapy could not get to that. But the doctors said I had very little adhesions, so the Therapy at clear passage definitely helped a ton. It was the best decision I have made I may go back another time to receive additional therapy from this surgery I had.

        • I am recovering from a sm. bowel obstruction. What a horrible experience this has been. The pain was so bad the night of the obstruction. I was alone and scared. I called 911. At times my hands and legs became numb due to obstructing blood flow. I begged for more pain meds in ambulance. I had a few abdominal surgeries due to my colon cancer. this past year. But I am two weeks out of hospital from this obstruction. but every night when I lay down. The pain starts for 5 hours. I don’t know how long I can cope with this. I sometimes just have fluids to help ease the trauma that will come. Friends come in and check on me to see if I am any better. I hate to complain to anyone. Very bad situation I am in. Thanks for reading my blog Sincerely, Diane

  13. I to have had some surgery. In 2009 Colon Cancer and Jan 2013 Small bowel obstruction and 2 weeks later my I opened up and they had to put me back together with an open wound. My hospital stay was 28 days. I have had 2 more Blockages in Oct and Dec. I know how you feel and I know I would not be here today without prayer. I spent one week on a ventilator in Feb. 2013 and today I am back at work. God Bless

  14. Thank you for all of the information you have posted. I had the surgery on the 21st of February and have been home for 7 days. Still in level 7 pain and having a hard time eating more than just cream of rice or other very mild things. I am extremely sensitive to pain medication and that has made the recovery longer. I went home with NORCO but have stopped taking it because it makes me constipated. Any one else with sensitivity to pain medications? Have not found a lot on the internet

    • It took me a very long time before I was able to eat remotely “normal” after my obstruction surgery (at least 6-8 weeks). Getting the GI system moving smoothly also took some time. The first few BMs post-surgery were killer. The pain was unbearable but as things started to heal, it got better. I definitely took a stool softener the first couple weeks to help things move a little easier. Definitely give yourself a little more time to heal. I had five surgeries before this one for the obstruction and this recovery was much slower and rougher than any of the other five I have had. Hope this helps! Feel free to contact me anytime if you have specific questions!

  15. I am so glad I found this information! My husband went into the hospital on Sunday morning and by that night, was undergoing emergency surgery for an obstruction in his intestines (due in part to scar tissue build up from a surgery he had as a baby to remove 12 inches of his intestines) Now back home, both he and I are pretty anxious as to what the recovery is going to look like. Do you feel there was anything you could have done differently to avoid additional obstructions?

    • I actually had to patrial obstructions in the healing process that required hospitalization but thankfully no additional surgeries. My obstruction & resection occurred right where the small and large bowel meet which made healing a challenge. Because my obstruction was caused by scar tissue from previous abdominal surgeries there was nothing I could have done to prevent it nor can I do anything to prevent another one from occurring (which may be likely because of my history of surgeries and scar tissue). My GI just keeps a close eye on my abdominal pain with xrays/scans in hopes to catch anything issues before it becomes a total blockage.

      • I had surgery 4/23/14 and am bloated again…called dr and as long as I am not in pain or throwing up bile…he seems to think I am ok…now that is a scary opinion to me. Will go to another dr tomorrow cause you just know your body…dont want the tube again:(

      • I had surgury on June 27 to remove 36″ of small intestine and gallbladder and I can agree with everyone’s comments it was no fun.. The first 7 days in the hospital were pretty controlled , with no food or water by mouth for 3 days and then slow clear liquids the fourth and so called hospital food the fifth day. Getting up and walking was chore, but very necessary to building back strength. I had an excellent surgeon, and care for the seven days in the hospital. Pain button on the IV made things bearable. Upon release the real adventure starts to make sure you take extreme care to follow doctors orders, no lifting at all, plenty of rest , and watch everything you eat. I chose soft foods only, lots of melon and fruit, lots of liquid. Nothing other than eggs, chicken and tuna salad and potatoes . I tried a hamburger one day and paid the price.. No fatty foods.. It has been a slow but steady process, over the past 4 weeks of recovery, and I feel I am only 60% back, so I agree with the comments it will take at lease 6-8 weeks, maybe more.. Then to start building strength back will take several more weeks . Still no lifting over 5 lbs until doctors gives the ok.. I have a friend who started back lifting to early and is in rough condition with two more hernia repair surguries to go.. So listen up no incision has healed up after 30 days , but the doctors says it will take several weeks or months for the bowels to get healed and readjusted in your body .
        There is no exact diet but no dairy, no fatty foods ,no bulk meats, no steak etc and I feel I am doing fine.. It was a tough operation , but I thank God and the surgeon that I am still alive. I am very thankful they got all the tumors , and can help others who have to go through this operation.. I had open heart 6 years ago and it was much more painful,this this.

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  17. I had a kidney transplant in January, Transplants are placed in the iliac crest (front of body, near pelvis), so during surgery a lot of other organs are “adjusted” to make the new kidney fit. A mesh was placed on top of the transplant because the kidney came from a donor, a very kind gentleman, who is almost twice my weight and about 6 inches taller than I. I expected some swelling in the early phases of healing, but after month 3, my abdomen was still distended, with no explanation. The nurse told me that “swelling” of the abdomen can take “months” to heal. I am 5’10’ tall and weigh 100lbs. And, I knew In my heart of hearts that this swelling was not normal, as I had had another kidney transplant when I was 14 in 1990. Never did I experience such swelling. As the months went on, my complaints to the doctor continued, with no intervention. Finally, after an episode of gross distention, pain, and vomiting, coupled with an ER visit, multiple CT scans, radiographs, and bloodworm, it was confirmed that I do have an obstructed small bowel, right where the small bowel meets the large bowel. It slipped out of the doc’s mouth that there had been a surgical error and that adding the mesh to keep the larger kidney in place, contributed to the adhesion and obstruction. Here I am, 8 plus months after transplant, and the symptoms of obstruction keep getting worse. I wear a surgical belt so I can fit into my pants, I wear the same belt to sleep, to add pressure to the obstruction, which allows food (all soft for about a month now) to go through, I will not allow the big name transplant hospital in PA to fix this problem. My dear friend, who just happens to be a liver transplant surgeon, has arranged an appointment at a more prestigious hospital in NJ to have the surgery, It is his hope that because of the experience of the transplant team and of the abdominal surgery team, that this obstruction/adhesion, can be taken care of quickly and with minimal healing time. I hope he is right, as I have a job interview tomorrow. What do I tell them, “I can start immediately, but will then need 6-8 weeks off to heal from an abdominal surgery, Yes, life has been quite a challenge lately. The bloating is severe and the pain is out of this world, If they don’t call me tomorrow, I’ll show up to the ER, On another note, one of the GI guys at the PA hospital told me to “just get used to it”. I was dumbfounded. How can anyone think that way??? Any advice would be greatly appreciated. I’m at my rope’s end.

    • My obstruction also happened where the small bowel meets the large bowel which made healing a little slower and caused the two partial obstructions during recovery. I cannot image a physician/surgeon knowing you have an obstruction and not doing the surgery to correct it. Obstructions can be serious. I was septic by the time they found my obstruction as the part of my bowel that was wrapped had died and started to decay (even though I had been in the ER just a week or two prior and they diagnosed my pain as pacreatitis). I continue to have GI problems due to gastroparesis and slow moving bowel so I am mostly on a soft diet but I am closely watched by my GI dr because of my history. I cannot imagine that any doctor would allow an obstruction to go untreated, even if it is a partial obstruction which is what I am guessing you have going on. Adhesions and scar tissue can be tricky things to deal with as often the process of removing adhesions/scar tissue will in turn only create MORE adhesions/scar tissue so there is definitely a fine line sometimes between the benefits and risks of abdominal surgery. My doctors know that I already have scar tissue impacting my bowels but until there is an obstruction or an emergency, they consider me too hight risk to go in preemptively. Its a vicious cycle. Since you’ve had multiple abdominal surgeries that might be the reason doctors are hesitant to go back in but if they *know* there is an obstruction, I cannot imagine a doctor letting it go untreated. I could definitely get a second opinion.

  18. After reading the comments, I feel so much more at ease. My mom had bowel obstruction surgery 7 days ago and knowing what she’s experiencing is normal makes me feel so much better. I had no idea this was so traumatic. Watching her go through this is tough but I’m comforted by all the comments that this is normal and it will take time. Thank you all for putting my mind at ease. I will share this with her so she knows she’s not alone.

  19. Hi, I hope you can help me. My mom had this surgery about 2 weeks ago and was just released from the hospital and able to come home. She is 45 and has Lupus and was told her healing process may be a little delayed but she should fully recover. About an hour ago I was talking to her in her room when she told me that she felt very nauseous and was freezing cold. Then she began dry heaving but not throwing up. I called my dad and he took her back to the ER. Do you know if this is normal or how long she may be feeling very sick like this. Please get back to me through here or email. My email is

  20. In 1989 I had a bowel re-section….about 2 ft(60 cms), due to ruptured/perforated diverticula in my small bowel. In 2011, I was hospitalised with a SBO which was due to adhesians caused by that re-section I had over 20 years before-hand. During the following 15 months, I had 3 more episodes in hospital with the same SBO problem. I was “tortured” with an NG tube each time until the 4 th occasion when I refused to have it, because the condition rectified itself without the NG tube which they couldn’t insert…….despite several attempts, because my hiatal hernia (which they discovered I had from a CT scan), made it physically impossible. Before my next hospitalisation, I saw a Gastro-Enterologist specialist who has been brilliant. When the problem occurred again, he said I couldn’t go on living like this, so after the SBO had settled fairly well, he operated on the hiatal hernia(key-hole) and he also performed a “division of adhesians” while he was in there.That was in 2013. However,I have had 3 more SBO’s, each requiring about 3 days hospitalisation. Each time it has rectified itself after I was placed on IV fluids and 3 or 4 shots of morphine, Endone wasn’t strong enough.(I have refused a NG tube each time despite the hospital doctors telling me it’s routine treatment for a SBO).HELPFUL HINT. I have “dodged a few bullets” (hospital episodes) by taking 2 Panadol tabs and 2 De-gas tabs (available over the counter at pharmacies)as soon as the small waves of crampy pains start, and then going for a 30 min (painful) brisk walk.This will usually expel alot of wind from both ends !! Until the medical profession can discover a stent/sleeve that can be inserted (endoscopically) in the effected area of the bowel, or some other treatment, that’s about all we can do…..each sufferer working on things that each finds useful to their own needs. Best wishes, good luck, and God bless you all. Robert.

  21. Hello sir. Im Harpawit Singh, age 23, im a Bodybuilder.
    80 days ago, I had gone through a surgery for small bowel obstruction.Theres a 4-5 inches of cut on my stomach. Im feeling better day by day.till now im on a complete rest but now i wanna start my workout routine..should i start now or should i wait for some more days?? Please help me regarding my issue.
    My email:
    Regard’s : Harpawit Singh

    • I am not a doctor so I cannot answer your question but I would definitely consult your doctor/surgeon before performing any workouts.

  22. My small bowl obstruction was caused by A GI Doctor and My Supposedly Colon Surgery Doctor
    After awaken from colon surgery, I was given chicken booth. This liquid food, I vomit up about 3 min later; along with bitter bowl and blood. Next a tube with vacuum pump was place through my nautical and into my stomach; another tube was quickly place through my penis and into my bladder. IV needles were placed in my arms. I was in this condition for three days. I was in the hospital for12 days. I did not see my doctor until 9 0r 10 days after surgery. I was discharge from the hospital with much pain in my left side lower abdomen. I returned to my surgeon doctor two weeks later and he said to me: โ€œI do not feel your painโ€. Itโ€™s now been nine; going on, 10 year and I have not found a doctor to treat my pain. I am awake night do to severe pain. My pain has not stopped since I was in the hospital. I had to retire from my well paying job due to severe pain and many doctor appointments. I have found no help any place; with any doctor. I am military retired and was in exceptional physical condition before I was (talked into) to have supposedly flat polyp removed from the end of my descending colon by the GI doctor and colon surgery doctor.

    • I am so very sorry to hear about your experiences. Your doctor sounds like a big jerk who did not take your pain seriously. It looks like you have tried finding other doctors much to your avail. Where are you located? If you do not feel comfortable posting in a comment, I would be glad to chat with you via email to see if I can be of any help finding a doctor that may be able to help. My email is anewkindofnormal at gmail dot come (I spread it out to avoid the evil spammers).

  23. Hi i was told last night that i have a partial bowel obstruction in the lower part of stomach and they have sent me home with laxetives but was passing stools before hand and now i cant pass anything. In agony and vomiting and dont nnow what to do

    • Go to the ER ASAP. If possible, not the same way that sent you home. Go quickly and please check back in and let mw know how you are doing!

  24. Crohns is a nightmare that is not easily tamed. I do highly recommend getting on a medical mariguana regiment. I was very against this as I grew up in a very conservative and religious background. I can tell you that it has completely changed my life by giving me significant pain and other symptom relief without compromising my immune system like so many of the biologics and steroids. I know there is no one magic bullet but changing my diet to include more anti inflamatory foods and incorporating marijuana oils such as setiva have helped tremendously. Setiva has a large anti inflammatory component to it which assists with most auto immune issues. I also have Stills Disease another Auto Immune Disease which is very rare. Try it and I promise you will experience immediate relief!!!!!

  25. My stomach looks like yours. Does all this swelling go down? I was in the hospital 23 days. Very sick and it took the Dr. 2 weeks to decide to do surgery. Not good! They said the bowel obstruction was caused by scar from a hysterectomy 30 yrs. ago. It’s going on 9 weeks since the surgery. My scar is bad. Never had that before from any surgery. Because I was basically in bed 23 days my muscles and joints froze up. I came home with a walker. Yes hard to get around. I now have ditched the walker and have a cane. I used the cane sometimes before the surgery but not at home. Getting better slowly. I wonder how long before my belly will go down? Gpd bless.

  26. I had this surgery June 2015. Question, did anyone develop a hernia after surgery? I have a hernia (the size of a softball) above the top of my scar.

  27. Just had small bowel obstruction surgery. In the future, I am going to look for physical therapists who do visceral massage. With proper experience, I understand they can break apart adhesions with massage. Worth looking into.

    • Not sure what visceral massage is, and if it has any benefits in alleviating adhesions. I definitely want to avoid any possibilities of more surgery. That took me a good 7 weeks to begin to feel like I was making improvements. But, I am having to take Rx’s about 20 minutes before meals for long-term, to encourage the sluggish bowels to work.

    • This is a really good point Betsy. I had similar massage therapy after a major ankle surgery, to break up scar tissue, and allow for full healing. It makes sense to me that the same could be done for abdominal tissues as well.

      I’m really nervous. I had an appendectomy 4 weeks ago, and the past week I’ve had terrible gas pain and I’m pretty sure I have a partial obstruction. I think the appendectomy stirred up something with my old surgery scars (I’d had a large dermoid cyst removed from my right ovary when I was 20 – basically next door to the appendix)

      But I just can’t be in the hospital again this week… so on Saturday morning I decided to go on a complete liquid diet (something Dr. Google suggested ๐Ÿ™‚ ) And, it has settled down a bit, but not completely. I know I’ll need to talk to my doctor tomorrow, and I’m scared she’ll tell me to go straight to ER – but I would do anything to avoid another surgery. The appendectomy was the first surgery I’ve had in 18 years… I was hoping I could go another 18 without too ๐Ÿ™‚

      Thanks for this post & creating an environment for such great conversation.

  28. Hello everyone…I don’t want to frighten anyone but my poor life partner of 27 years passed away last year from what started out as a bowel obstruction and progressed to an ischemic bowel and then to sepsis, septic shock and then she died after her surgery to remove 6 inches of dead bowel. She had a huge history of surgeries including a complete hysterectomy. She was doing relatively fine for years until wham. Do everything in your power to avoid another obstruction and keep your bowels healthy and moving every single day. Adhesion’s are terrible things and can really mess with the quality of your life. Please have a plan ready if you ever have to go back to the ER…let your gastro know everything and also let the ER people know everything because they just didn’t have a clue and neither did we when I brought her to the ER over a year ago. And above all never ever let sepsis raise its ugly face because it is a killer.

  29. I had an appendix removed then illiues set in and my bowel obstructed. I had surgery and in hospital 3 weeks. NG tube etc. I am home now thank God. At the end of my incision is a round puss like soft shaped as big as dime. . Had anyone experienced this ?

  30. My dad went into hospital earlier this year for bowel blockage. He hadn’t ate or held anything down for almost a week at this time. The surgeon he had just put him on IV fluids and NG tube. My dad was in hospital a total of 7 days, did not sleep, was crazy and out of his head the whole time and the MD did not do surgery til 7 days later and me throwing a fit because in a hospital you think your loved one should get better and not worse. Well he finally had surgery, coded after surgery and they never understood why…He was only gone for less than a minute but seemed a lot longer at the time. But he never really came back. His bowels never worked, kidneys failed so dialysis daily, trach with ventilator, and staph in his blood. 52 days after admitted in that hospital he was pretty much tortured and past away and cause of death was Sepsis. Please if you have a loved one that has a bowel obstruction DO NOT let the MD wait more than 48 hours before they perform surgery.

    • Oh my goodness! I am so incredibly sorry for your loss and that your dad and family had to go through such a horrible experience! I cannot imagine why anyone would wait 7 days knowing there is a complete blockage before doing surgery! I am so, so, so sorry!

    • I am so sorry for you and that ordeal! I had my first such surgery (intestinal adhesions) July 2016. ER. Within hours of being admitted. I was told adhesions are non preventable and I would likely have another attack /ER surgery. Happened 2 months 10 days later. My bowel since has been very problematic. Works /won’t. Always need to have Fleet enema handy, take stool softeners, anything to get the bowel to move. Am under a nutritionist’s care for I lost 25 pounds and am not absorbing nutrients. All in all, my life has been turned upside down. I’m eating like bird snacks, not meals like every one else.

      • Have you ever been checked for Celiac disease? The weight loss and malnutrition makes me think of Celiac right off the bat. It is often overlooked as some of the symptoms fit so many other things. My first GI missed my Celiac diagnosis for 5 years. He just kept telling me to eat more yogurt. I finally got a second opinion and he found it right away. If you haven’t been checked, I would ask your doctor about it and as far as not being able to eat like everyone else, I TOTALLY understand. I have the same issue. Hope you find some answers/relief soon!

  31. It’s really good to hear about how your recovery went. My mom is getting abdominal surgery soon, so this was really helpful. I really liked what you said at the end, on when you were able to start eating solid foods again. That is something my mom is looking forward to, so I’ll be sure to tell her about your experience.

  32. Hi my name is Marcy I just got home from same surgery it was awful I had a colonoscopy an right after I woke up I told them how bad of pain I was in but they said it would be OK the pain would not let up I kept calling doctor an they said I had gas an needed to pass gas n to walk around well I went to bed that night there was a bulge in my stomach I woke up in the VB middle of the night vomiting over an over I called an ambulance next thing I was having surgery my question is did the colonoscopy have anything to do with this cause the doctors office kept saying we didn’t do this an I didn’t blame them but they didn’t do anything to help me either plz text me

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  34. Having similar kind of experience of agonizing partial bowel obstruction that riddled my abdomen with constant sharp stabbing pains, I feel it soothing to be sharing the same sentiments with many. Following many tests which indicated no problem in the abdomen, it was concluded that adhesions were the only other possible cause for the partial obstruction. Doctor suggested laparoscopic surgery for adhesiolysis and performed it. For a period of time after taking solid foods I felt truly liberated and back to normal only to relapse. Stomach pain, bloating, gas, nausea. 4 weeks away from the surgery now a dull gnawing pain persists. The pain radiates to the back on increased activity but the doctor advises that I should remain active to exercise the intestines. I am soo thankful to have read from you and to know now that it actually takes time to heal from obstruction surgery. I am back to taking pain meds to enable me to make walking exercises with more ease.

  35. For All of you with scar tissue… I was just in for my third obstruction, after 3 previous surgeries. Go to I am going to do there in April. I am going to get off of the merry-go-round. I have holes all over my belly. I have a mesh that is 8 by 8 covering my entire stomach. I have scar tissue EVERYWHERE. This place has a 95% effective rate with abdominal scar tissue relief. program is 5 days in a row for 4 hours of treatment a day.

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