Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Always read the small print!

One should never be complacent. Just when things seem to be going nicely, something can come along and set you back. Temporarily, anyway.

I'm still fairly inactive, partly because my suture lines remain tight and uncomfortable - although things have definitely improved in the last week, and 'sore' isn't now the correct word to use. But I'm disinclined to be on my feet much. The other reason for inactivity is that I'm constantly tired, with limited energy reserves that are easily used up. That's even after four weeks! My goodness, how long will it take to feel fit again?

Tight suture lines and a need to rest a lot combine to make reclining in a comfortable chair my typical daytime pursuit. As if I were on a cruise, in fact. And naturally this makes bowel movements sluggish. So I needed to be pretty free with the Lactulose laxative supplied by the Nuffield. It ran out a few days back. I experimented living without a laxative, then decided that I really would have to take something to help clear me out, pending a return to normal activity. Pre-op, I'd bought an over-the-counter product called Dulcoease, and now gave it a try.

I had to take one little capsule every four to six hours. So I took one just before sleeping on Sunday night, and another early on Monday morning before drifting off to sleep again. Two hours later I woke feeling odd. I felt on fire. And in fact much of my torso was covered in an itchy red rash. My bottom was the same, with thickening of the skin also. And my face was red and puffy, much as it had been over Christmas when seared by the salty sea breeze down in Cornwall. The overall effect was as if I'd fallen asleep while sunbathing in the nude. My skin felt hot and raw, but I was shivering nevertheless. I looked and felt awful.

Just what I didn't want. I fired up Fiona, went to the surgery, and was lucky or pathetic-looking enough to see a doctor after only 15 minutes, despite turning up without an appointment. The doctor thought that I might very well have had an allergic reaction to the Dulcoease. He recommended Piriton allergy tablets to combat the effects. He also prescribed some more Lactulose, which had no side-effects.

Since then I've got a bit better. Much of the soreness and itchiness has gone, and the rash is fading.

The principal ingredient of Dulcoease was 'docusate sodium'. And, now that I look closely, the makers have flagged up an agent called 'sunset yellow' (E110) which they say 'may cause allergic reactions'. I wish I'd read this before. Well, next time I'll be more circumspect.

Isn't it forever true? Always read the small print.


  1. That does not sound like fun and lucky you have such accommodating doctors. An increase in roughage like more beans might help, even add a little oat or wheat fibre to your food to help it pass through.

    I don't seem to have any pictures with this post!

    Caroline xxx

  2. I have Weetabix for breakfast with dried fruit, and scoff dates and apples all day. But clearly this isn't enough! So beans on toast for lunch it is!

    I have - of course! - taken pictures, but they're not pretty, and I feel the public should be protected from them.


  3. Lucy, have you ever tried psyllium husk fiber? Here in the states there are several brands, the most popular being Metamucil. It comes in either orange or berry flavor, and you just mix a rounded teaspoon full into a glass of water. Do that two or three times a day, and you will be going like a goose. It's much better than chemical laxatives for maintaing regularity, although when you first start, using it, it may cause a bit of bloating until your system gets accustomed to it.
    Melissa XX

  4. All the fibery stuff and drink lots of water.

    Fortunately it seems to have settled quckly. It took weeks when I discovered that I was allergic to Betadine.

  5. Glad you were able to see a doctor quickly and get that reaction under control!

    I use psyllium fibre (in All Bran with psyllium) but for me that's more for cholesterol than evacuation. Any of that insoluble fibre does require lots of water or else you just make things worse, but you said you were drinking a lot.

    My secret is raw carrots. I don't know if that would work for everyone, but it works very well for me. And lots of water, of course.

    Four weeks is nothing! I felt much better after four weeks, but month two was still pretty rough -- still some discomfort, still no energy. This is major surgery. Don't rush it! But by month three, you should be feeling more like your new self. :)

  6. Ouch! Sunset yellow is an azo dye and an old foe of mine that like all azo dyes really screws me up. Funny really, medicines are the only places I see azo dyes these days, they've disappeared from supermarkets by popular demand.

    Glad to hear the rash is fading, anyway.


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