(Authors note: You will notice the title of this story is “How I beat (mostly) LARS”. The key point is the word “I”. This is my story and how I dealt with the issues I faced and the experiences I had trying to get myself to a better place physically and mentally. I understand other people have similar or better or worse experiences. I understand they did other things from diagnosis to treatment to recovery and beyond. I wish them all the best but this is my story. I put this out there because maybe it can help someone else.)
One year post stoma reversal, my life was a living hell of dealing with most of the same issues a lot of other people experience after low anterior resection colorectal surgery to remove a malignant tumour and the associated procedures including the necessary ileostomy.
Cluster bowel movements, diarrhea, cramps, the burning ring of fire (I kid you not, imagine passing a paste of fine gravel, glass chips held together with battery acid and polyfilla not once, but up to 20 times in one day) and planning your outings around the availability of public restrooms.
I had spent that time adjusting my diet, lifestyle, eating habits, anything I could to help alleviate the symptoms and give me hope of living a somewhat normal life.
Around all of this I knew in my rational moments I needed to quit drinking. I had modified my drinking to exclude those beverages which caused me the most problems. IPA and other craft beers and red wine being the two biggest offenders. I was kidding myself, but I thought this would be enough.
My surgeon, Richard H. Lewis, MD FRCSC, had done everything he could to help me adjust and get where I needed to be physically. My oncologist, Dr. Sasha Smiljanic had done the same. Eventually on one of my regular follow up appointments with Sasha, he suggested that perhaps seeing another surgeon may give me a different perspective. Richard is a brilliant surgeon, but as they say it never hurts to get a second opinion. Sasha said he would contact a Dr. Terry Phang, a well respected colorectal surgeon based at St. Paul’s hospital, walking distance from where I live in Vancouver, BC.
Looking back I became aware one of the best reasons for seeking a second opinion is that you realize there may not be a silver bullet. You are where you are and you need to come to grips that at that moment in time, the medical community is doing what is practically available and for any additional help you may need to look inside yourself.
Knowing that I would have to