Low Rectal Cancer
Dealing with your Doctors who treat Low Rectal Cancer
Your doctor should be consulted before you commit to the "daily enema". However, don’t expect your doctors to be supportive of bowel management with enemas. The medical community has a bias for surgery and drugs. The use of enemas to alleviate the consequences of rectal surgery and treatment may be viewed as "non scientific" and on the par with witchcraft. When you consult with your doctor about this approach go prepared with your commitment and medical research. You can print medical article that you find on this site and the Internet that will support your decision to try this approach. The best you may hope for is a half hearted support from your doctor. Some of the concerns that your doctor may express include:
1. You will upset your electrolytes. In theory your electrolytic balance may be upset if too much water is absorbed through the colon walls. In reality, the water is only in your colon for about 15 minutes, too short of time to have any effect on your electrolytes. One solution that some recommend to totally avoid this issue is to add a little salt to the enema solution. I have done a plain water enema for 12 years with no problems with my electrolytes.
2. You may create a potassium imbalance. This concern relates to the electrolyte issue and is unfounded.
3. You may become dependent on enemas. This is a old wives tale that has circulated for the past 30 years since the "Fleets Enema" was introduced. The theory is that the colon contains muscles that will atrophy if not used. In reality the colon muscles continue to push the stool along the colon between enemas. There are many examples of people who have done enemas for years and have returned to normal bowel function within a week after stopping.
4. There is a lack of medical research. This is where you need to do your Internet homework. You can present your doctor with medical papers to support your approach to solving your bowel problems.
On a personal note, I have used this approach for over a decade with only positive results. My family doctor, gastroenterologist and surgeon are all aware and supportive of my daily enemas. I have had a half dozen colonoscopies since my cancer and my colon is very healthy. When I first started to do daily enemas, my doctor ran tests to confirm that my electrolytes and potassium were normal. After running these tests for a couple of years, he was convinced that there is no medical harm in doing daily enemas.
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