The sigmoid colon is the terminal section of your large intestines that attaches to the rectum and anus — a sigmoid colectomy is a surgical procedure in which the sigmoid colon is resected. During this procedure, the sigmoid colon is removed and the remaining large intestine is then reattached to the rectum. After the procedure, patients will need to eat certain foods to allow the intestines to heal, as well as to prevent gastrointestinal upset such as diarrhea, constipation and excessive gas.
Patients should follow a low-fiber diet for about six weeks after discharged from the hospital. A low-fiber diet is imperative for post-colectomy patients to decrease the risk of trauma to the intestines and promote healing. After six weeks, slowly introduce fiber back into your diet. Patients can then increase fiber intake by only one serving each day, until they are able to tolerate 20 grams to 35 grams per day, or about five servings. Patients should be sure to drink plenty of water while increasing your fiber. Fiber can be constipating when not complemented with adequate water.
I recently led a follow-up appointment with a patient who was on his third chemotherapy treatment and recovering from a sigmoid colectomy. The patient consistently lost 14 pounds over the last 6 months but gained 10 pounds since his last appointment, which was last month. But, the patient reported that he was slowly gaining his appetite back but could not tolerate smells like he used to. On the SOAP (subjective, objective, assessment, plan) note I developed, I indicated that I educated the patient on the importance of keeping his weight up and maintaining that weight as well. It’s important for patients to maintain their weight after major surgeries like a sigmoid colectomy, in addition to cancer treatment. The stronger the state that the body is in, the more tolerable it will be towards the treatment of cancer. The patient is currently prescribed a vanilla-flavored supplement from the facility and reported that he couldn’t tolerate the taste of it sometimes. So, I educated him on different ways to make his supplement taste better like adding chopped strawberries to his supplement. We talked about what foods he could eat and how we were going to make sure that the patient listens to his body. By listening to his body, I mean if a patient can tolerate a certain food on a Monday- then eat it. But if he can’t tolerate that same food on Tuesday- try something different. The patient reported that he “forces himself to eat”, which is good for patients going through chemotherapy. A number of patients that are going through chemotherapy become easily frustrated. But, RDs are there to remind them that they need to fight through the frustration and aggravation of their senses (taste and smell specifically) changing.