I’m so happy to be back on here. I’m not going to lie, for a little while things got really bad and I thought I wouldn’t be posting anything for a very long time. Luckily the body is an incredible thing and despite putting me through a lot it’s also been very kind to me and made me proud during such an extremely hard situation. My last post about my surgery has initially done way better than any post I have ever uploaded before so I thought it’d be pretty selfish if I didn’t do a follow-up and let you all know how everything went. If you haven’t read that post yet, it’s here and all about the lead up to my sub-total colectomy surgery.
So I had to be at the hospital for 7am on Friday September 21st. We got there half an hour early as I had to drink some pre-op fluids and due to my condition, it’s not uncommon for me to need to go to the toilet pretty soon after consuming anything. We thought the smartest thing to do was to just get there and drink them so I didn’t get all anxious about travelling there afterwards! Along with a herd of other people, I was let into the pre-op centre at 7am and checked into a little cubicle where I had general obs, went through lots of paperwork, signed my bowel away and met all my surgical team.
After a few hours of waiting, foot-tapping and switching between mum, dad and Jake whilst different people came around, it was time for me to get into my hospital wear. Hearing the phone ring at 10am and my name called was most definitely one of the most nerve-wracking moments of my life. I had to sit myself down for a minute or two to catch my breath and just remind myself of the reason I was doing this. I’ve always been one of the most positive, happy and motivated people I know and although IBD didn’t completely eliminate these qualities, it made me into someone that I just didn’t want to be. I didn’t have any choice but to be that person though due to the illness. I couldn’t be reliable, I couldn’t be enthusiastic, I couldn’t be Alice.
After saying my goodbyes, I was escorted on down in my rudolph dressing gown and extremely sexy knee high anti-embolism stockings to the theatre room. Having an entire team of people who are about to cut you open and rearrange your insides for a few hours just stood round is quite intimidating but they made me laugh by asking if I’m excited for Christmas because of my dressing gown… I remember having a cannula inserted, being given a strong dose of painkillers and then the anaesthetist saying ‘we’re going to drift you off now, 10…’ and the next thing I know I woke up in a crap ton of pain at 2:15pm in the recovery room.
Other than the operation itself, things really didn’t go well that day. My pain was quite hard to get under control, the room I was assigned to wasn’t ready and no one actually told my family I was alive and okay until hours and hours after I’d gotten out of theatre. I managed to see my mum and Jake for 10 minutes at around 8pm and then I was finally taken to my room just after 10 where I drifted in and out of sleep between pressing the morphine drip I was linked up to. I only remember flashes of it all now which is probably a good thing. Although one very clear memory I have is of a nurse on the phone to someone saying that they needed to keep a patient unconscious in theatre until there was a space in the recovery room for them as no one at that time could be moved onto a ward. It really showed how strapped and fragile the NHS is.
Luckily the next morning was a bit better, I actually got to see my family for a while and my best pal Marika popped in to make sure I was doing okay. I was a bit more coherent and realised I was attached to more wires than I could count which was really quite uncomfortable but obviously necessary at the time. The good news was that the surgeon said it went “as well as it possibly could have” it was all done laparoscopically and Jake said he thought my stoma was cute – win win, my boyfriend doesn’t think I’m gross and I’m hopefully going to be healthy!
The surgery was the bit I was worried the most about. It’s understandable as colectomy surgery is classed as a major operation, it’s life-changing and of course on your abdomen, too. Too close for comfort to so many other things. I was so paranoid I was going to be resistant to the anaesthetic too but that wasn’t an issue at all. I was literally knocked out before the guy got from 10 to 9. Recovery, however, has been incredibly tough so far. I honestly did not realise the pain would be this bad.
Apparently when the surgery is performed laparoscopically, the pain is actually initially worse due to the air they pump into you and the amount they move your body around. Everything from my hips to my shoulders has been in agony, especially my core muscles as they’ve obviously made quite a few incisions through them. Don’t even get me started on sneezing.
There was one day where I got myself in a state as I was in so much pain and started sobbing, then realised the sobbing made my pain horrendous and had to calm myself down by trying to stop sobbing… I’m actually laughing thinking about it now but what a bloody mess! I was taken off of my morphine drip quite early as my surgery went so well so I think they underestimated just how much pain management I’d need. Luckily it was resolved when my stoma nurses came round on the Monday morning after and I have been progressing a lot better in every way since.
I had visitors every day in hospital from my family, Jake and his family and Marika and I’m so incredibly grateful for all the support, love and get well soon gifts and cards people have been sending. I even got a beautiful little get well soon parcel from my favourite brand Bomb Cosmetics! It means the world to know that people would take a little while out of their day to wish me well. Wow am I excited to get back to the old me! A pain-free life is sounding pretty sweet and like it’s in arms reach now. My mum and Jake have also started calling me superwoman after all the tough things I’ve endured, so I’m considering getting a little symbol tattooed on me to represent my struggles and to remember I am one bloody strong woman.
So, the bag. The taboo subject. I decided to just post a picture of me with it on social media as soon as I got out of hospital as this is my life now. If you don’t like it then you don’t have to look at it. I’ve actually been getting on fine with the bag so far. Don’t get me wrong, it hasn’t been easy. Accepting your body is going to work in this whole new way and look differently is a challenge but I’m hoping the benefits are going to eventually outweigh the downfalls. I can already feel my body getting stronger without the disease and once the pain of the healing is gone and the effects from the medication I’ve been on have worn off, I’m going to be trying my absolute hardest to get my body and my mind in the healthiest place they’ve ever been.
I hope to be talking a lot more about the bag and my stoma in future on the blog. I’m not entirely sure what it’s going to be about yet but lets hope it’s going to be nothing but positivity and helpful tips for others facing similar or the same things! A lot of people give their stoma a name to make it feel less alien to them but I’m not sure what my stance on that is just yet. I’ll let you guys know, though.
One thing I do know is I’ve spent far too much of my life being weighed down by pointless and irrelevant things and people that never really deserved a second of my time. I do believe a lot of my anxiety surrounding these things were a large contribution to the reason I got unwell in the first place. After going through absolute hell and back, nothing like that is getting in my way anymore. If you can’t accept me for who I am, the decisions I’ve made and what I want to do with my life then I can promise you, you will not have the privilege of being in it.
I’ll be back with some products reviews and beauty bits, soon!