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WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
A colectomy is surgery to remove part or all of your colon. The colon, or large intestine, is the long tube that connects your intestine with your anus.
You may need any of the following:
- Prescription pain medicine may be given. Ask your healthcare provider how to take this medicine safely.
- Bowel movement softeners make it easier for you to have a bowel movement. You may need this medicine to prevent constipation.
- Blood thinners help prevent blood clots. Examples of blood thinners include heparin and warfarin. Clots can cause strokes, heart attacks, and death. The following are general safety guidelines to follow while you are taking a blood thinner:
- Watch for bleeding and bruising while you take blood thinners. Watch for bleeding from your gums or nose. Watch for blood in your urine and bowel movements. Use a soft washcloth on your skin, and a soft toothbrush to brush your teeth. This can keep your skin and gums from bleeding. If you shave, use an electric shaver. Do not play contact sports.
- Tell your dentist and other healthcare providers that you take anticoagulants. Wear a bracelet or necklace that says you take this medicine.
- Do not start or stop any medicines unless your healthcare provider tells you to. Many medicines cannot be used with blood thinners.
- Tell your healthcare provider right away if you forget to take the medicine, or if you take too much.
- Warfarin is a blood thinner that you may need to take. The following are things you should be aware of if you take warfarin.
- Foods and medicines can affect the amount of warfarin in your blood. Do not make major changes to your diet while you take warfarin. Warfarin works best when you eat about the same amount of vitamin K every day. Vitamin K is found in green leafy vegetables and certain other foods. Ask for more information about what to eat when you are taking warfarin.
- You will need to see your healthcare provider for follow-up visits when you are on warfarin. You will need regular blood tests. These tests are used to decide how much medicine you need.
- Antibiotics help prevent an infection caused by bacteria.
- Take your medicine as directed. Call your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.
Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:
You may need to return for tests or to have your stitches or staples removed. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.
Eat a variety of low-fiber foods:
Low-fiber, or low-residue, foods are easy to digest. Good choices include eggs, white bread, creamy peanut butter, and macaroni. This will help slow down your bowel movements and prevent trauma to your colon. Do not eat whole-wheat breads or pastas, raw fruits or vegetables, or nuts.
Return to your daily activities as directed:
It may take 2 or 3 weeks to return to your usual activities. You may need to avoid lifting anything over 20 pounds for 6 weeks.
Contact your healthcare provider if:
- You have a fever.
- Your wound is red, swollen, or draining pus.
- You have nausea or are vomiting.
- You have trouble urinating or feel burning when you urinate.
- You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.
Seek care immediately or call 911 if:
- You feel lightheaded, short of breath, and have chest pain.
- You cough up blood.
- Your arm or leg feels warm, tender, and painful. It may look swollen and red.
- Blood soaks through your bandage.
- Your stitches come apart.
- You have severe pain.
- You are unable to have a bowel movement or pass gas.
- Your abdomen is swollen and hard.
- You cannot eat without vomiting.
- You see blood in your bowel movement or on your toilet paper.
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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.