It’s officially been at least one month since I had my colectomy surgery. I didn’t think it would but it has actually flown by! This post was meant to go live on Sunday 21st October when it was exactly one month since my surgery but I ended up having a little break from blogging and social media which I wasn’t expecting. I said I was going to start something called “The Stoma Series” following on from my IBD posts so I could continue raising awareness and talking about my life as an ostomate now. The good, the bad and the ugly because I’m too honest for my own good.
For an introduction to the series I will just be quickly running through a few basic facts about what a stoma actually is and then updating you all about my first month with one!
The official meaning of the word is actually any opening in the body and any hollow organ can be formed into an artificial stoma. Of course the type I am talking about is artificial as it was surgically created and it is a gastrointestinal one. The type I have is called an ileostomy due to the part that has been brought to the surface being the ileum (part of the small intestine). Another more common surgically created stoma is a colostomy which is where part of your colon is brought to the surface. This wasn’t an option for me as the entirety of my colon was too damaged. A colostomy sits on the bottom left side of the abdomen whereas an ileostomy is on the right.
An ostomate refers to anyone with a type of ostomy which there are a lot of examples of on the stoma wikipedia page. There are lots of possible reasons for becoming an ostomate but as you’ll probably know if you’ve read my health posts before, mine is due to having Ulcerative Colitis.
I had my operation on the 21st September and was discharged on the 26th so I spent 5 nights in hospital. This is quite a quick discharge for someone who had an operation as big as mine. I was lucky in that my stoma started working straight away post-surgery and once I got the correct regular painkillers, I wasn’t doing too badly. I’m not going to lie, I hated being in hospital and feel like I might have pushed to get out possibly a little earlier than I should have. I did feel much better being in my own bed though and with my home comforts.
I’ve adapted to life with a stoma extremely well, I’m getting quicker at doing everything every day and with the help of a forum or two I’m in, learning what’s normal and when to ask for help. A lot of the time, I don’t even notice it’s there or think about it. I did have some issues where my bag kept leaking in week 3 but it turns out I have a very small stoma and just needed a different type of bag to accommodate it and all is fine now! My scars are also healing super well and I think by Christmas they will probably be pretty much non-existent.
The week and a half after leaving hospital I was feeling better every day. I started getting my passion for makeup back and was firing out blog posts like there was no tomorrow. On the third week I had fatigue start hitting me really badly again. Fatigue for chronic illness is a lot different to general tiredness. You can quite literally feel it in your bones and joints, behind your eyes and in everything you do. I’ve seen people compare it to “wading through treacle” which is kind of what it feels like. Everything just feels so heavy and even taking a shower can make you feel like you need to go back to bed.
I’m currently tapering off of Prednisolone which is a type of steroid that I’ve been on for a year and a half. You can experience quite bad side effects when coming off of it so I’m hoping this is just my bodies way of adjusting to living with less of it and eventually none of it at all. I’m really not feeling my best at the moment and am getting fed up of feeling so run down and awful all the time. I had a migraine so bad last week that I couldn’t really eat and was vomiting up even water (let me tell you, retching is not fun when you’ve just had abdominal surgery, ouch). This is what triggered my break from social media and blogging, hence the lack of posts. I clearly just needed a break!
The issue with recovery and illness is that you’re unsure whether you should push yourself to help move you forward or whether to rest as otherwise it can make you even more unwell. I’m trying to do some of both to aid my recovery in both ways. Despite the crappy things, I have managed to do some really lovely things in the last few weeks that I wouldn’t have been able to with active IBD. I’ve been out for coffee with my mum, gone for food with a friend I haven’t in almost 2 years. Gone to my best friends family get together, my uncles 40th birthday party, a visit to the lovely Tyntesfield (I got to ride round on a mobility scooter, HA) and went for afternoon tea with my mum.
Jake and I have also booked a holiday to Sorrento, Italy next year for an entire week and my mum has booked a family holiday to Switzerland for 5 nights! I’m so excited I could cry as they’ll be the first holidays in a long time that hopefully won’t be affected badly by my illness. Things aren’t the best they could be right now but I know that eventually this will all be worth it. I’m trying to stay as positive as possible and have got lots to look forward to! Stay tuned for a post on my post-surgery plans and goals.