sorry to hear about your husband's diagnosis. with rectal cancer they remove the rectum, but the colon stays. did the drs mention how close the tumor is to the anus, meaning how much from the anus up will they be able to save? generally, the more they can save from anus up, the better chances they can create a pouch or some kind of a replacement for the rectum, so there won't be a need for a permanent colostomy, but only a temp one. (with rectal cancer i'm not sure they create a j pouch, but maybe some kind of other pouch/something to replace the rectum made from the end of the remaining colon and attatch it to the anus).
as far as i know, not all surgeons are qualified to create this rectum replacement/pouch if they can't save at least 5-6 cm from anus up. if it's less then 5-6, most of them do a permanent colostomy. a friend of mine from my previous work who's mother had rectal cancer, the drs weren't able to leave more than 2 cm of rectum. she first went to one of the most known drs in israel (i'm from israel), who is considered to be one of the best, and he told her theres no other option than a permanent colostomy, cuz it's less than 5 cm. but she then went for a second opinion with another known dr and he was able to create a pouch. it's been 2 years from her surgery, and as far as i know she's doing great. she did have a temp colostomy for about 3 months, but that's it. she's doing fine now.
so did his drs offer a chance of creating a pouch to replace the rectum, or just a perm colostomy? if they're doing a perm colostomy, then it's one surgery. if they are planning to create a pouch, then it's a 2 step surgery. the second one is usually done 3-4 months after the first one.
about healing and recovering, hopefully if all goes well, it should be about a week at the hospital and about a 6 weeks recovering. either way he'll have a colostomy after this surgery. possible complication with intestinal surgeries, esp stoma surgeries is an ileus, in which the whole digestive system is in shock and stop working. not pleasent least to say, but nothing to worry about, it solves on it's own after few days. an ng tube will be needed to drain stomach bile till his system wakes up. but not everybody gets an ileus, and hopefully, he won't either.
most important thing is to keep a low residue diet at the first couple months at least after surgery. the intestines are very sensitive after surgeries and fiberous foods can be to harsh for them and sometimes can be even dangerous and cause an obstruction. no fresh fruits or vegies, no whole grain stuff, no nuts grains or seeds, no beans.
i had the exact opposite surgery - removing all of my colon except for the rectum, so it's not the same that i can share. but i wish him best of luck! and if you need any advice with stoma care, we're all here for you!
06/05/2007 - STARR procedure
colonic inertia w/pelvic floor dysfunction
08/16/2009 - total colectomy w/ileorectal anastomosis
07/08/2010 - loop ileostomy