Home treatment for bowel obstruction?

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Regular Member

Date Joined Oct 2007
Total Posts : 36
   Posted 8/29/2009 1:50 AM (GMT -6)   
Howdy all,
I was recently in the hospital for 10 days to treat my small bowel obstruction.  My last surgical resection was in 1997 and I've generally been in great shape since then, but I made a blunder recently with my diet - I'm an avid broccoli consumer, but recently read that to get the most nutrients from broccoli, it should be "lightly cooked".  So I asked my wife to cook my broccoli lightly, and she did.  It was an enormous plate of broccoli....OOOPS!  So, I ended up in the ER with a gut full of rock hard broccoli clogging up my guts.  My sense is that my Crohn's is probably not doing too badly, I think the problem was more to do with a little fibrosis at my anastomosis, so it was just too hard for the broccoli to get through there.  For normal food, I never really have an issue.  But it took 10 days before the regimen of ng suction, rest, followed by enema, followed by muralac, followed by golytely, before I got fully opened up.  And then my gi went in and balloon dilated my anastamosis, which he said was a a real short little stricture, so doesn't sound too bad.
My question though is whether anyone has some brainstorming ideas on how I could treat this type of scenario at home, should I ever be faced with this issue again in the future.  This time around, the hospital bills = $40k, and my insurance policy is not the best so I'm having to pay a good chunk, and I'm not sure I'll have insurance much longer, so I'd like to be prepared to treat this more cheaply if possible in the future.  I've been through the routine numerous times, so it's basically a matter of the following:
1) ng tube placement (I have my existing ng tube from the hospital stay with the markings, so I know the exact size of tube and proper placement).
2) ng suction pump on low suck, intermittent suction setting.
3) Dalauded pain medicine & zofran for nausea.
4) corticosteriod infusion.
5) round the clock sodium infusion.
6) bloodwork, including checking potassium levels, and sometimes requiring potassium infusion.
7) Enemas to clean out the colon.
8) Muralac to soften things up a bit above the obstruction.
9) golytely prep to flush everything out.
10) take vitals every few hours.
11) Listen with stethascope to heart, lungs, and bowel tones.
12) Measure urine and ng output to enable calculation of fluid requirements.
I could conceivably purchase the ng tube and the suction pump or maybe rent the suction pump from a health company.  Once the tube is placed and suction begun, it's a no brainer, nothing to do.  The only real expertise required is for the administration of the iv's, the calculation of the iv fluid requirements including potassium, and the bloodwork.  I just wonder whether there is such a thing as a home health care firm that would rent me the equipment and provide nursing to come to my home periodically.  I'm not sure how it would work exactly, as I imagine a doctor may need to have some role in authorizing the fluids, etc.  Anyhow, I've never had to contemplate the financial aspects because I've always had good insurance, but I'm concerned about the possibility of losing my insurance, so I'd really like to thorougly investigate the possibility of treating this problem from home in the future if anyone has any suggestions for me. 

Veteran Member

Date Joined Apr 2005
Total Posts : 3763
   Posted 8/29/2009 7:17 AM (GMT -6)   
This type of thing should never be done at home! I get bowel obstructions that I don't always go to the hospital for, but, mine clear on their own, usually within 24 hours. I take fluids by mouth. If I start to vomit or get dehydrated I head straight to the hospital. And I have discussed this with my doctor at length and we both know and agree on a plan. If you need an NG tube and IV fluids and have a bowel obstruction that last for 10 days the potential for disaster is exponential. I can't imagine any home nursing agency agreeing to this without constant doctor supervision, which is basically what you get at the hospital. A bowel obstruction is life threatening and therefore the hospital has to treat you with or without insurance. If it happens again, go to the hospital.

CD 20 years officially, 30 unofficially. 3 resections '93, '95 '97
Managing with strict low residue diet, keeping symptoms to a minimum. All test show small amount of ulceration, still have occasional blockages. But still have a great time with my 2 daughters and husband!

Prednisone, 6MP,Prevacid, B12 shots, Bentyl, Xifaxan.....

Elite Member

Date Joined Apr 2005
Total Posts : 14995
   Posted 8/29/2009 9:11 AM (GMT -6)   
I agree 100% with Zanne. I do not believe a obstruction should ever be treated at home, unless its a partial obstruction that clears itself. And to be honest I have only had that happen once. You could perforate if you didn't treat a bowel obstruction properly. So insurance or not, you really should go to the hospital if you think you have another obstruction. Your doctor said you had a short stricture. That means short or long, you have a fibrous stricture. My last resection was only for a 5" stricture, my first was 18". Good luck!
Gail*Nanners* Co-Moderator for Crohns Disease and Anxiety/Panic Forum
Crohn's Disease for over 33 years. Currently on Asacol, Prilosec, Estrace, Prinivil, Diltiazem, Percoset prn for pain, Zofran, Phenergan, Probiotics, Calcium  w/Vit D, and Xanax as needed. Resections in 2002 and 2005. Also diagnosed with Fibromyalgia, Osteoarthritis, and Anxiety. Currently my Crohns is in remission, but my joints are going crazy!
It's scary when you start making the same noises As your coffee maker.
*Every tomorrow has two handles.  We can take hold of it by the handle of anxiety, or by the handle of faith"*
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