A prolonged bout of anaesthesia and extensive poking, prodding and cutting in the nether regions, along with the pain meds, can leave your gut paralyzed. Quite literally.
The official terminology for the problem is postoperative ileus.
It is a big deal – you are not allowed to leave the hospital, until your gut wakes up.
Waking up slowly
The part of the gut which usually has the most trouble waking up, is the colon.
The stomach and small intestine typically manage to come back on line, within 24 hours of the surgery. But colons can still be off line 120 hours after the event.
The snoozing gut problem is the reason why your doctor is obsessed with your bowel movements. He may just be making casual conversation when he asks how you slept, but the question about your bowel movements is different, he really cares about your bowel movements.
What does it take to arouse the gut ?
Same thing that it takes to arouse someone who has passed out. Moving and shaking, lots of it.
Activity IN THE GUT is going to produce moving.
Slipping food, even just a little into the gut, should trigger moving and shaking, which is why, the nursing staff encourage you to tuck into the ice cold dinner, shortly after you open your eyes.
The gargantuan challenge
Ice cold hospital food – can be tough to eat when you’re feeling great.
When you’re feeling like death warmed up, propping yourself up in the bed is already a trial, so actually eating the congealed chicken and soggy broccoli unaided, can be pretty close to impossible.
And if you do succeed in swallowing a few bites to get things moving along, there is no guarantee that the moving and shaking will be in the RIGHT direction.
A lot of the time, the moving and shaking ends up being in the wrong direction i.e. dinner is followed by a bout of nausea and vomiting.
Chew on it
Turns out you can move and shake without actually eating. And you don’t need some expensive pharmacological intervention to do it.
Feeding without feeding – the technical term for it is sham feeding, can be achieved by popping a piece of chewing gum into the mouth and then CHEWING.
Something that is do-able, even in a semi-comatosed postoperative state.
Brain thinks its food
You do need to give the chewing gum, A BIG LONG CHEW.
But the movement of the mouth, is enough to stimulate the cephalic-vagal reflex – which triggers the release of a whole bunch of GI hormones and enzymes. And the GI hormones shake the gut into action.
Prompting peristalsis all the way down the tract and….triggering that all important bowel movement……
Needed for you to be discharged.
Home James, don’t spare the horses
Clinical trials suggest chewing gum can get you going home from the hospital, at least a day or two earlier.
Saving you (or your medical aid) money and aggravation.
So if you’re having an op, when you put together your hospital bag, slip in a packet or two of chewing gum in with the pyjamas.
Or if you’re visiting a friend after surgery – ditch the flowers or magazine, rather gift them with a packet of chewing gum. Just remember to keep your cell phone out of sight when visiting a hospital.
Postoperative ileus chewed away
Then postoperatively get CHEWING.
PS. You might want to include a little honey in the hospital kit bag too. Researchers have found bee kisses beat fancy creams at healing nasty wounds.
|Should you feed a heart attack a high fat meal ?||Add chewing gum to your to-do-list to lose weight||A dab of cream can rewire brain circuits fried in a stroke|
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