See original post and pics at:
I learnt something in high-school biology that has shaped all my subsequent thinking about the human body. It was this: the body can be thought of, quite simply, as a series of bags and tunnels.
The biggest of the tunnels runs right through your body, it starts at your mouth and ends at your bot-bot.
When things go wrong with this tunnel new openings are sometimes needed. Just like roadworks taking place in a city, major thoroughfares in the body can be blocked, bypassed, detoured or closed down for service.
My upcoming surgery goes by the acronym ULAR, but I prefer the term Ooh-la
The Ooh-la will remove parts of the colon and rectum affected by the tumour and then re-attach healthy bits (colon, it seems, is quite stretchy and can be pulled down to meet what will be left of my rectum).
As any good surgeon or plumber will tell you – where you have cracks and joins, you have leaks. To help the new join between my colon and rectum heal as quickly as possible after surgery, the whole area will need a break from the stress of handling poo.
Diversion + Ostomy = Diverting ostomy
In addition to the Ooh-la then, I need an ileostomy. The 'ostomy' means that some of my insides will actually end up outside. The 'ile' comes from the name of the inside bit that will end up outside, the ileum.
The ileum is small intestine and connects to the large intestine. During my surgery, the ileum will be (1) pulled through a tailor- made hole in my abdomen, (2) partially cut (like a fat sausage) and then (3) sewn to my skin. Ta-da, new place for poo to come out!
Ben, meet Abdo-Bum
The ileum + hole in abdomen + place for poo to come out is called a stoma. You can also have stomas that are made from colon (colostomy) or that allow urine to leave your body (urostomy).
The idea is to keep Abdo-Bum for 4 to 12 weeks, just long enough to let my newly joined colon-rectum heal and handle poo. Then this hole thing will be reversed.
I will still get to use my original bum while Abdo-Bum is around because the colon will be collecting cells and producing mucous that will need to leave my body.
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See original (and pictures) at http://benbbrave.blogspot.com/2011/06/pooology.html
I have been comfortable with poo ever since I realised that playing with it was a big part of a zoologist's life.
You can tell a lot from animal poo. Scientists use poo to work out where an animal has been, what time it was there, what it recently ate, if it is ready to mate, has mated, or is pregnant, if it is stressed, if it's a male or female, how old it is, and how related it is to the animal next door.
For some animals you see their poo more than you see them. I once met a PhD student in China studying giant pandas who had only seen one giant panda in three years of looking, and even then he had had to use a secret video camera at night, and only ended up with a picture of its leg.
Luckily giant pandas produce a lot of poo and are known to excrete up to 120 green balls of shredded bamboo every day. To describe the shape, size, colour and moisture content of the enormous amount of poo produced by giant pandas, and all the other species that make poo, classification systems are needed. We are no different.
Classifying our poo
The Bristol Stool Chart is the medical equivalent of zoological guides available for decoding non-human animal poo.
The different Types look different because they have spent differing amounts of time in the colon. The colon's main job is to absorb water and some minerals from poo, so the wetter and less formed the poo the less time it has spent in the colon.
During chemoradiotherapy I sometimes went from Type 2 to 5 to 1, in a single day.
Now this chart is of particular relevance to me because very soon I am going to have my colon drastically shortened, and even more interestingly, I am going to have a procedure done that means what is left of my colon will be temporarily bypassed, completely.
Remember what I said about runnier poo spending less time in the colon, imagine what poo that has spent no time in the colon looks like.
Got the image? My work here is done.
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I went through six weeks of chemoradiotherapy to shrink a tumour in my sigmoid. I hadn't remembered this until your post, but during the treatment I did pass small 'rock like' poo. I don't have a stoma. It went away after I stopped treatment and was not that frequent.
I have no medical explanation for this, maybe someone else can help with that.
PS - You never have to worry about talking about things that aren't 'nice' here. Us bum cancer people get to talk and joke about all the gooey stuff we like - it's a right we have :)
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Of course your didn't sound like a whinger!
I think the messages from most people here indicate that we are all having our tests covered by Medicare or a health fund, both as an inpatient and outpatient. For example, I have yet to stay in the hospital but have had a bunch of CTs, PETs, MRIs, genetic testing and radiochemotherapy - all as an outpatient. I haven't had to pay for any of it.
I wonder why you are being treated differently? Maybe you could give the group some more info about the types of tests you have had to pay for and the types of tests you have not. I checked your original question and it was about medications, have those been the biggest cost for you so far?
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Cancer Council NSW would like to acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land on which we live and work.We would also like to pay respect to elders past and present and extend that respect to all other Aboriginal people.