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Crohn's Disease Forum » Surgery » Strictures & Obstructions » Intestinal Blockage / Obstruction Support Group


 
12-08-2011, 03:32 PM   #1
David
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Intestinal Blockage / Obstruction Support Group

About this Support Group

As those who have inflammatory bowel disease are at increased for intestinal blockages and intestinal perforations, it has been suggested that we create a thread detailing what a blockage or obstruction feels like. Those of you who have had blockages, please share your experience in as much detail as possible. Did anything feel different in the days leading up to the blockage, once there was a blockage, how did you feel, and any other pertinent information. Personal accounts of partial blockages are welcome as well. Many thank you's to those of you who share.

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12-08-2011, 03:35 PM   #2
Grant
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Obstruction is absolute agony. Had it happen 3 times & each time it was accompanied by projectile vomiting & literally seeing stars or rather flashing lights when I closed my eyes. The duty Dr who came out had a good listen to my belly & could hear no bowel sounds @ all. He called an ambulance(that never turned up). The next time it happened I called the duty Dr & he told me on the phone to get myself to A&E. The last time I just took myself in without asking.

Pain wise on a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being the highest I'd rate it @ 9.5. 10 being the point where I pass out & I was very close to that. The pain is a spasmodic pain that gradually builds to a crescendo & then stops. Only to start again & again etc etc. Curiously with me even though the cause was one stricture the pain occurred in 3 different areas, 1st time central lower belly, 2nd time lower left & finally lower right.

Safe to say that if anyone gets these symptoms don't hesitate, get yourself to hospital. Without being over dramatic your life could depend on it.
Regards
Grant
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12-08-2011, 03:41 PM   #3
Grant
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That was the scarey bit David. Knowing I had a stricture never prepared me for an obstruction. It didn't feel any tighter than normal. When it hit me it was right out the blue twice, the third time I started to feel the onset of twinges building & didn't wait. Got myself in & Pain meds in by IV. Because of that it never built up to the crescendo that time. (I'm only 20 mins from a hospital)
12-08-2011, 10:08 PM   #4
ctrl z
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I felt intense nausea and pain. I vomitted a lot. I never vomit so I knew something was definitely wrong and ended up driving myself to the hospital. I made it safely but that was a bad idea.

Anyway, the pain was horrible. I felt like someones hands were in my abdomen squeezing and twisting my intestines. The pain was in waves, much like Grant mentioned.

Leading up to the obstruction, nothing had happened out of the ordinary. It just happened.

Last edited by ctrl z; 01-02-2013 at 01:05 AM. Reason: clarity
12-08-2011, 10:34 PM   #5
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Had several obstructions over the years. With Crohn's the pain comes in waves but it was usually consistent. If it started at a 5 it would hover from 4-6. An obstruction was different in that the pain starts off as a mild cramp but then it builds like labor pains until you can't tolerate it anymore. I'd usually get constipation, then diarrhea, but no gas. Looking back I was usually unable to pass gas at least 24 hrs prior to the pain. The pain was so severe I usually went to the ER begging for pain relief. Hope that helps!
12-08-2011, 11:13 PM   #6
LindaS
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I've had several obstructions and partial obstructions over the years. Usually the pain starts out low, and it slowly builds. I usually feel like if I could just pass gas or have a BM, it would go away, but I can't do either. As the pain builds, I end up nauseous and often end up vomiting. The pain gets to be so severe, that I can't think of anything else. It also feels better to bend over than to straighten out. And when I've had obstructions, morphine or dilaudid don't help at all.
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12-11-2011, 12:56 AM   #7
sunflower
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I have had two obstructions and neither were what are considered a normal experience.

First I had an obstruction caused by an adhesion wrapped around the bowel. I had recently had our daughter, and woke up in the night with waves of pain, unlike I had ever felt before. I remember thinking - "This must be how an obstruction feels!", though I have no idea why I would think that!

The waves of pain continued to worsen, and by morning I was writhing in pain each time. It was like the pain would happen when the peristalsis pushed against the adhesion, so it would start out small, build to excruciating, then slowly go away. Later at the hospital I called my husband to check on the baby. I started vomiting everything I had eaten over the last several days in reverse order. That was super weird. Things were not digested.

When I got to the screaming stage, they finally carted me by ambulance to a different hospital. They thought something had happened to me during delivery. Finally the pain got so intense I passed out and they finally put me on morphine. Days later, and after a million tests they finally decided to do an exploratory surgery. They didn't expect to find the adhesion, but it was an easy fix!

My last one was a partial blockage caused by a stricture. It wasn't particularly painful, but I was very uncomfortable. I had had problems for quite some time, but no one would listen since constipation is not a symptom of Crohn's. I finally went to my GP and said I had tried everything to go to the bathroom and couldn't even pass gas now. So he put me on some kind of high powered laxative. I had to stay home from work for a week to do that.

That helped relieve the pressure, but did not make me go to the bathroom without taking the laxative. So, I finally decided to go to GI, and had to prep for a week to do the scopy. After I finally got cleaned out, I finally realized how much pain I was in, and where the pain was. After the doctor looked at me, the pain was where the stricture was! I was also very ulcerated, but since I couldn't go to the bathroom correctly, the blood didn't show on my stool.

I am still battling the constipation even though the stricture is gone. (yay Humira!) The doctor thinks I may have scar tissue in the other layers of the intestinal wall that is keeping that area from being able to relax as much, and causes things to back up there. That whole area of my intestine is scar tissue, which should cause me to have diarrhea since there would be reduced absorption in that area. But, I am still somewhat blocked up. So, we have to keep our eye on it.

Symptoms can be different depending on where they are in the bowel, and what is causing the obstruction. If things are not normal, it is worth it to get it checked out. And even if they don't see anything the first time, if it is still bothering you - go back. Obstructions are not always clear cut on xray. Neither one of mine showed up right - but they were real.
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12-11-2011, 04:41 AM   #8
GI Joe
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Mine was the most painful experience of my life. It started out as just a little discomfort and cramping type pain which was intense but went away after a minute or so. Later, along with the pain, I started to vomit over and over again. Over a couple of hours, the cramping became constant pain growing so intense I passed out. My wife got me to the ER and I was taken in for emergency surgery.
12-11-2011, 02:48 PM   #9
mkhopper
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I've had numerous partial obstructions in the past and all were thankfully relieved in just a few hours with pain and muscle relaxer medications. (Dilaudid and Valium)

I've also had one full obstruction which resulted in needing a draining NG tube for 24 hours. Uncomfortable as hell, but it did stop the pain.

As for the pain during an episode, I'd rate it on a scale of 1 to 10 at about 36.
Easily the most intense pain I've ever felt.

For me the pain begins just below the stomach, feeling like cramping sensation which then rapidly scales to an intense squeezing and then it very slowly lets go. Usually I'll hear and feel rumblings while the wave ramps down as well.

These waves of pain last for 10 seconds or so though sometimes up to half a minute and at the height of the most intense waves, they occur about once per minute.
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12-11-2011, 03:20 PM   #10
Allystyle
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Mine was like a volcano building up!
Would get tight sharp pain then have to hold my breath for 5 secs then heard a loud noise like a bomb going off inside then it would ease off and I could breath again!

Wave pain is definately best way to describe it, mine was due to food trying to pass a stricture which was blocked.

Got to point of having 8 Tylex at night to get past pain!
You could feel it also if you put a hand on my stomach, like I had a baby kicking lol

The wind can also be excruciating pain too.

:-(
12-11-2011, 10:20 PM   #11
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I had a blockage when I was around 13 years old (16 years ago) and I remember feeling sick (flu like symptoms) and then had sudden intense pain in my abdomen and threw up not too long after the pain came. I was placed in the hospital for a week or so and was put on Prednisone, Asacol and 6MP to reduce the inflammation (the cause of my blockage). I really don't remember much more than that. I can't recall how long I felt sick for (my guess is a few days) and the intense pain came on quickly and was less after I vomited.
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Currently in: REMISSION Thought it was a flare but it's just scar tissue from my resection. Dealing with a stricture. Remission from my resection, 17 years and counting.
12-11-2011, 10:30 PM   #12
Crohn's 35
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I can't add to any of these post, it is by far the worst pain and my biggest fear of having another one ...after 5-6 of them having a baby natural is a walk in the park, and I ain't foolin"!!!
12-11-2011, 10:49 PM   #13
Emily
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I had a stricture where my colon was smaller than the diameter of a pencil, which my GI described as essentially a blockage. Like other people said, it just hit me one night, with the pain being severe beyond description and coming in waves. It is so intense that there is literally nothing that can be done to alleviate the pain. When the spasms stop for maybe 1 or 2 minutes, there is no better feeling of relief. And just when you think maybe it ends, a new wave hits you. I have never felt worse pain in my life.

Also I noticed that I had trouble breathing, like my whole body was in such distress that my breathing was being neglected. I remember that night too vividly lying in a hotel bed gasping for breath in the fetal position sobbing.
Anyway, I think if this would happen again to me, I would have no doubt in my mind what was going on. There is no way to ignore that kind of pain.

Also, nothing was particularly different in the days leading up to it. Who knows what the trigger is. One minute I was fine, next minute... gosh just remembering how that felt rattles me.
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12-12-2011, 09:50 PM   #14
hawkeye
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Also I noticed that I had trouble breathing, like my whole body was in such distress that my breathing was being neglected.
Interesting about the breathing issue, when I talked to the nurse at our provincial 1-800 telecare number, her line of questioning led my to think my symptoms were similar to those of heart attack.

Mine came on in the afternoon after a morning colonoscopy (not a lot of the prep camp out - so here was likely something going on before the prep). I was very nauseous and had what started as a dull pain across my abdomen at the bottom of the rib cage then got sharper and then came and went in waves. It was painful even what I was lying down.

When I called our 1-800 health number where you can consult with an RN they told me to go to he hospital and that they would fax a record of the call to emerg.

After going to emerg., I ended up getting an x-ray that the doctor said was spectacular (not a good thing) apparently there was something in the radiology report about the transverse colon being stretched to a width of 10-11cm because of the obstructon.

It took fentanyl to knock the pain down. They seemed really willing to give me pain meds after the x-ray. I was admitted for a couple of days and given steroids via IV.
12-13-2011, 10:47 AM   #15
kllyeve
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I have had several partial obstructions. The descriptions everyone else has given are very much the same as I what I went through.

It is easily so much pain that you shouldn't have any doubt tht medical attention is required. Now convincing the dr's in ER that you know what is wrong and that you need pain meds and IV fluids ASAP or you'll be in real trouble is quite another story!
12-13-2011, 01:25 PM   #16
scl
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Let me start by saying I have a very high pain threshold. I delivered two children via natural childbirth and rated the pain for both at a 2. There are other instances where my ability to handle pain was clear.

I was diagnosed with CD when I suffered my first blockage. The first sign that something was wrong, was that I was not hungry after not having eaten for about 7 hours. I forced myself to have dinner anyway. You won't believe what I ate that night. Something called "Living Lasagna" made entirely from raw vegetables - thin strips of zucchini to replicate pasta, spinach leaves, etc. Probably the worst thing a Crohn's patient could eat.

Anyway, things went south pretty quickly and I went to bed early around 8:00 p.m.. Wave after wave of intense pain followed for about 3-4 hours. Vomiting started about this time. By the time my husband came to bed around 1:00 a.m., I was panting with pain. I finally asked him to call an ambulance after suffering another hour or two because I really couldn't walk, or couldn't fathom sitting in a waiting room.

One of the most uncomfortable things was having to drink contrast prior to CT scan. I told the nurses there was no way I could drink it all and they just asked that I do my best. I got through half of it and warned them that one false move on my part would send it right back up. Surprisingly, I made it through the scan and when they moved be back on the gurney, it all came up.

The NG tube followed which I hated, but have to admit, it did provide relief. Hospitalized for 5 days with other tests to confirm CD.
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12-13-2011, 01:39 PM   #17
Alisa
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Thanks everyone for your insights. I've never had one and pray I never do. It does not sound like an experience anyone should have to endure. Now if it were to ever happen I would at least know some signs and what to tell the doctor.
12-13-2011, 03:21 PM   #18
scl
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I can't add to any of these post, it is by far the worst pain and my biggest fear of having another one ...after 5-6 of them having a baby natural is a walk in the park, and I ain't foolin"!!!
I rated natural childbirth (did it twice) a 2 on the pain scale. Intestinal blockage, easily an 8. Give me natural childbirth any day.
12-13-2011, 04:22 PM   #19
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I had a sticture and blockage in the sigmoid. Unfortunately, it perforated..twice. Once in 2009, again in 2010. The pain doubled me over, simply unable to walk upright. Night sweats, hot flushes, agonizing pain. As it is occuring it is simply uncontrollable pain. It may not be continuous. Sadly I was NOT on the floor as I have a pain tolerance of an OX. I was still working. This is me being STUPID. This is me having a stoma because of that. Dont mess with this stuff people.

Now having the SAME issues in my Transverse colon. This time, the GI's arent taking me seriously. Well DUH. Expect me to report on my total removal of colon soon!
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12-13-2011, 04:35 PM   #20
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I had a stricture that my surgeon confirmed last week had nearly become a complete blockage. The onset of it seemed quite sudden, one day I felt alright, the next I had diarrhoea and gradually worsening stomach pain. Leading right up to the op the pain was like nothing I had ever experienced before, I couldn't tolerate food anymore so was on Modulen drinks. It hurt to move and walking became an excercise of torture it would literally take my breath away. Like Misty I worked up until the day before the op - perhaps not the best of ideas. The pain from the op was much more preferable, this just seemed to sting similar to the pain I had when my ears were pierced - easily tolerable. If I'm lucky I have roughly a 5 year window until my next one - yay!
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DX: Crohns July 2002
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12-13-2011, 04:51 PM   #21
Sybil Vane
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I've had a lot of partial obstructions and one complete obstruction and I agree with everyone else--the pain came in awful waves like childbirth. I will go through the pain at home with two norco and phenergan because I can't go to the hopsital each time--I can't afford the time away from my family and work. I also feel like I can't afford any more radiation from the CT scans. But I will go if it doesn't "break" in 12 hours. Mine usually reach a crescendo (like others have said) of vomiting and passing out. Then, the pain is gone. I feel like crap for a few days afterward. Sometimes I don't vomit--it really depends on what I've had to eat.

The weird thing is, that for me, whenever I feel really, really good, a blockage happens a day or two later. My family pointed this out to me--my sister noticed that when I told her I was feeling really good, that it was a bad sign. Now, when I feel really good, I stop eating. It's better not to add any food to the mix.

And I agree with the others re: NG tubes. I love them! They are horrible going down, but the relief is so sweet. A nurse told me that I'm the first patient she's had in 20 years to beg for an NG tube!
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12-13-2011, 04:54 PM   #22
Sybil Vane
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I rated natural childbirth (did it twice) a 2 on the pain scale. Intestinal blockage, easily an 8. Give me natural childbirth any day.
SCL-- I agree! And with natural childbirth, you at least get a baby out of the mix!
12-13-2011, 06:39 PM   #23
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I had the "night of the killer pea's" a couple months ago. It was in the middle of my flare this past October. My dad convinced me that I could eat pea's for dinner since it wasn't on my list of foods I couldn't eat, big mistake. I ate around 5 pm. Starting around 10 pm I started having pains in the strictured part of my TI. I have a very high pain tolerance and the first pains were worse then when I snapped my collar bone. I was at a friends house when they started then I went home around 11pm. The pain was so intense I got to a point where I was either gonna go to the hospital or pass out from the pain. Luckily I passed out and woke up and everything was ok again. Looking back I really should have gone to the hospital. But I wish that pain upon no one. That is the day where I began to become scared to eat certain foods because I didn't want to go through that amount of pain again.
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12-13-2011, 06:50 PM   #24
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I rated natural childbirth (did it twice) a 2 on the pain scale. Intestinal blockage, easily an 8. Give me natural childbirth any day.
My Blockage was a 10+...childbirth I didnt even wince and my bp was perfect... Blockage, not enough morphine on the planet!
12-14-2011, 03:31 PM   #25
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After reading these I wonder if that is what my "episodes" we're/are. I would always get them at the same spot. And usually after not going to the bathroom several days. I would be I labor like pain and in the bathroom for an hour or two. It would start off as hard stool and by the end it was d and I was completely wiped out from the event. Pain would be gone though. The last time it happened it had been 9 days since going to the bathroom and it started off as pencil thin and flat . My old gi gave me an example like a balloon that is just more narrow in certain areas. I don't think normal narrowing would cause me so much pain. Thank you all for your stories.
12-14-2011, 09:18 PM   #26
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My preforation felt like being stabbed in the stomach in the same spot over and over and over and over again. The vomiting was to the point it was coming out of my nose (sorry so graphic). The pain on a 1 to 10 was a 10. I was in so much pain, breathing so hard I collapsed my lung.
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12-14-2011, 09:25 PM   #27
kenyasolovely
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I rated natural childbirth (did it twice) a 2 on the pain scale. Intestinal blockage, easily an 8. Give me natural childbirth any day.
Me too! Both my births were not even bad...at all!
12-15-2011, 10:36 PM   #28
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I had a blockage once and Grant gave the exact description how I felt like.

Obstruction is absolute agony. Had it happen 3 times & each time it was accompanied by projectile vomiting & literally seeing stars
Such an awfull situation.

I went to ER. I was given very strong pain killers and there was no relief. They saw the blockage in an X-rays and decided to put me the NG tube...
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nasogastric_intubation

All of a sudden it was like a volcano. A green liquid come up from my stomach through the tube. The nurse has almost no time to connect the other end of the tube to the plastic bag. The green liquid was spilted around the place. Then, he could connect the tube to the plastic bag and it continued draining. The relief come in a minute.
12-16-2011, 02:06 AM   #29
scl
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Join Date: Jul 2011
The things we say to each other around here, I don't even talk to my husband about.
12-16-2011, 05:40 AM   #30
pjmel
 
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I had two obstructions (possibly only partial as I didn't require surgery) - woke up in the middle of the night with INTENSE pain and cramping the the belly, feeling like I needed to go to the loo but when I tried nothing happened. Lower back pain also accompanied the belly pain. Usually the vomiting would arrive an hour or two after the pain started. When I start vomiting I know I need to go to the hospital. On the first occasion I was given two doses of morphine - this didn't even make a dent in the pain. They also gave me something for the nausea. When the pain wasn't passing they gave me some buscopan via an injection - this has been the only thing that would relieve the pain. On the first occasion I was sent to a bigger hospital, the second time the obstruction passed quite quickly after I was given the buscopan so I was able to convince them to send me home. For a few days after each incident, I felt like I had been punched in the belly. Haven't had one for a few years now - SO thankful for that. It really is the most awful pain.
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Diagnosed 1997.
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Drug-Induced Lupus
Current meds : Imuran, Questran Lite, B12 Injections, Endep, Allipurinol, Entyvio, Nexium, Panadiene Extra, Targin, Plaquenil
Other alternative treatments : Oliveleaf extract.
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