Grieving: Those Waves Don’t Stop

They “prep” you for surgery; you hear that a lot in the weeks and days leading up to an operation. Medically, you should be fit enough to withstand the trauma your body is going to under take. You should be aware of the potential dangers, prepare yourself for things to be different than what you’re expecting, what you’re thinking could happen; even if you’ve had surgery or this surgery before.

What about mental preparation? Do the doctors ever prepare you for surgery? Apart from what I’ve mentioned above, how does anyone prepare for surgery? I was a novice to it all in May, there was a morbid curiously of what was going on around me, and in that period, I didn’t really feel my pain. I didn’t reflect on what was going on, what had happened, what was going to happen. It was all so foriegn to me. I had new feelings; my skin was cut and it needed to heal, it hurt a great deal. I remember feeling that bubble of a familiar emotion; something I hadn’t felt since I had been in counselling. An overwhelming fear of needing to greieve. That a part of my life was over and in order to accept my new life, I should cry. I should feel sad and angry, then move on.

My ileostomy surgery happened in a whirlwind of emotions; most of which involved making sure everyone else around me was happy with this new thing happening to me. Not if I was okay. I assured everyone I was, I had to be didn’t I? I wouldn’t make it – make it through – without an ileostomy. I wasn’t scared my life would be over – I knew so many ostomates prior to being one myself, I was happy I was becoming part of their special, private club – but I didn’t know what it would now mean. I didn’t know what my life would mean.

Are you ever mentally prepared for surgery?

Are ever mentally prepared for the outcome of surgery? The aftershocks?

It keeps hitting me like a wave lately, chipping away at my strong façade. Was I prepared for this?

Have I had time to greive my old life before accepting my new one? Was what I had a life, even? This period in my life is infinitely better in every which way I look at it – I just happen to poo out of my abdomen into a bag, no big deal everyone, its nothing new, it’s been done for decades! No seriously, it has! – why would I need to grieve?

But I know I do. It might not happen today or tomorrow, next week or even this year, but I do. Accepting this – all of this: the good, the bad, the ugly, the late nights, the paranoia, the laughs, the shit, the bags, the stoma, the skin, the rashes, the products, EVERY-FREAKING-THING my life now is – is going to take time. It can not be rushed. But I would love for it to just tap me on the shoulder and tell me when it will begin. And tell me that it’ll begin slowly at first. That it won’t keep coming and going like the sea in a storm; pelting me with memories and emotions I thought I’d buried long ago. I hope it will be kind.

I hope.

I hope.

I hope.

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How do I hate something that has saved my life?

No, seriously, how? Maybe the question should be ‘CAN I hate something that has saved my life?” or even “Can I hate something that has CHANGED my life?” Because, I can hate the fact that my disease was so bad, they had no other option than to remove my colon and give me my ileostomy. I can hate that fact until the cows come home, it still doesn’t change what happened. Does hating my ostomy make it easier to accept? Does this just make me negative and unable to live with it? I have no choice but to live with […]

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Vedolizumab: The Restart

Following my subtotal colectomy in August; my IBD team recommended returning to Vedolizumab. I had already tried Vedolizumab; receiving the three loading infusions last winter. This is where I was and how I was feeling as 2015 turned into 2016: “… So, it hasn’t gotten any worse, but the past year’s drug choices haven’t made it any better. I’m on a plato; and its going down, albeit slowly, over time. For me, the past 10 months haven’t been brilliant. They haven’t been the worse either, but I’ve noticed a definitely decrease in how well I feel in general, an increase […]

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Double Check Up – 22.09.16

It’s not unusual to spend time at the hospital for back to back appointments. But when they happen at different hospitals, it gets abit more complicated. We spent the morning travelling across the city to Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QE) for my liver check-up. I’ve been attending this particular clinic for almost three years since some routine blood tests revealed very high liver function results. Given my complicated IBD history, I’ve been seeing the head of the department, a Professor; and had lots more blood work done and specialised testing to give me a diagnosis. Not that I’ve ever needed one; […]

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One month post op

  “Time moves slowly but passes quickly.” That can be said for my recovery from surgery. I can’t quite believe its been a month already but in the same thought I can believe it. I’ve been experiencing recovery in real time and taken each day as it comes. It hasn’t been easy – but I knew it wouldn’t be – but its been better than my last experience of recovering from surgery. Mention-worthy moments: Not needing any pain relief since being discharge. Being able to manage my stoma – when its changed size and the output has changed consistency. Even […]

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To new beginnings…

Tuesday 23rd August (cont’d) “I’ve got a space for you on the end of the emergency list today, could be this afternoon, probably this evening though.” Ward round this morning and surgeon is keen to remove my colon today. Despite being busy, he will stay and do my surgery when his list is complete. Turned out that meant waiting all day – still experiencing more blood than I’ve ever known to come out of me – until the anaesthetist came to see me at 6pm. We talked through my procedure – a subtotal colectomy with ileostomy – and my options […]

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Nottingham GI Clinic – 14.09.16

At least three months overdue, rearranged twice during my extended post op recovery; we finally made the trip to Nottingham to Queens Medical Centre to see my second opinion Gastroenterologist. It’s always abit weird to see how another hospital organise their clinics. This was our second visit to see Dr Moran – head of Digestive Disorders, specialising in clinical trials for IBD – to discuss my case. Since we last came in January, I’ve had two surgeries, three admissions, two MRI and a CT scan and a colonoscopy. Explaining the last six months was going to be fun. I took him […]

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In for the long haul

Thursday, August 11th “I feel absolutely awful. If I’m honest, I’ve felt awful for weeks and I’m at the end of my tether. Please help me.” I was on the phone to my IBD nurse, begging for help. I’ve never begging for an admission but that is what came out of my mouth next; “I’d really like to be admitted.” She wasn’t shocked, just said she’d need to speak to my consultant and surgeon to find a bed for me on the Gastro ward – always going to be a big ask but I knew she’d come through for me […]

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A Spiral of Set Backs

I last wrote anything about my Crohn’s disease back at the end of June. That is almost six weeks ago but feels so much longer ago. And in retrospect, so much but so little has happened. It’s just been one thing after another; without the last problem really going away. So I was being discharged in my last post after my bowel infection from surgery. That problem resolved itself a week after I came home because of the antibiotics my surgeon prescribed to knock it out of my system. It seemed to do the trick; I was eating more, managing […]

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‘RECOVERY’ AND BOWEL INFECTION ADVENTURES [15.06.16]

I was never given any real information on how to recover from surgery. Sure, I got details on what had happened to my body, what I was now missing and how to best adapt going forward but I never expected ‘complications’; even though they were there, in black and white, at the end of the procedure paperwork, to happen to me.  Complications included: Chest infection. Illeus (temporary stoppage in bowels). Damage to the bowel. Ureter damage. Internal haemorrhaging. Bowel obstruction. Stricture. Anastomotic leak. Wound infection. Urinary Tract Infection (UTI). Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT).  Pulmonary Embolism (PE). All of which were most likely to occur soon after surgery, their chances diminishing the further […]

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RIGHT HEMICOLECTOMY WITH CYSTECTOMY – 12.05.16 – PART TWO

The weekend after surgery saw the most activity. This would be the removal of my catheter, getting out of bed for the first time and finally being able to eat. Having not been awake for the insertion of the catheter, the removal was pretty painless. It was more uncomfortable than anything and it did mean I would now have to get up and find the female toilet at some point; with a PCA pump and a bag of IV fluids. It’s quite amazing how much the catheter was doing for me because it wasn’t long before I needed the loo […]

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RIGHT HEMICOLECTOMY WITH CYSTECTOMY – 12.05.16 – PART ONE

So last time, I had just had my pre op assessment for my surgery. I’ll admit, that appointment was extremely helpful – it calmed me more than I had expected and I finally felt relaxed for my operation and I knew I had made the right decision. On the morning of my surgery – Thursday –  I packed my overnight bag with some pyjamas, face wipes, my phone charger, kindle and dressing gown. I was told I was being admitted via the Day Surgery Unit at the hospital at 1pm. My dad had kindly taken the day off, so we […]

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Pre Operative Assessment – 10.05.16

Its finally here; the pre op appointment! Before that appointment, I also met with the stoma nurse at the hospital; there is a small chance – 10% or so – that my operation could result in having a temporary ileostomy, so we discussed what one would look like, which side I would have it on, how the bag would fit to my abdomen and why it would be needed. If my surgeon finds extensive disease in my transverse colon he wishes to remove, he could very well create a ileostomy to help me out for a couple months before coming […]

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ONE WEEK TO GO

Seven more days of having all my insides, still inside of me. Seven more days of this constant, terribly draining pain. Seven more days in this current chapter of my IBD life. I know surgery isn’t a magic or quick fix. I know I will be in pain afterwards, a different pain from the one I’m experiencing right now but I am hoping this will be controlled better and not be constant once I’m off painkillers. I know its a big deal for my body to be put through; the worst its been through is a flare up four years […]

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Two weeks and counting…

BLERGH but YAY This sums up how I feel right now. I’m looking forward to hopefully not being in this pain much longer but I am dreaded the lead up to the surgery date and what that morning will be like. Because its all new to me – being my first surgery and all – I’m really anxious. And apprehensive. It’s two weeks until my surgery. I’ve finally had all my paperwork for my pre op and my admission for the actual surgery. It’s come around fast. Faster than expected. Even though it was only a month away when I […]

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GYN Surgical Consult – 19.04.16

The morning after arriving home from holiday, we were back at the hospital, seeing yet another surgeon. Thanks to my colorectal surgeon’s quick referral, I was going to see a gynaecological surgeon to discuss the removal of the cyst on my left ovary that was discovered on my last MRI in October 2015. I’m very glad it only took a week to get into a clinic to discuss this with them; it had been the one thing that had plagued me throughout our holiday – sleepless nights and irritability with my additional pain levels – I was more worked up […]

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Colorectal Surgical Consult – 11.04.16

So yesterday was my second appointment with the bowel surgeon at my hospital where my IBD is treated. After a positive GI clinic appointment last week – which you can ready about here – I was in two minds to expect a date for said surgery – a limited bowel resection – so soon; at the very least I was hoping to be put on the waiting list. This consultant’s wait was roughly 3 months when I enquired at our last appointment in January; if this was still true – unlikely given the upcoming doctors strikes – that would put […]

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Sunday; the night before

Feeling nervous about tomorrow’s appointment at the surgical clinic. Want to have it all booked and sorted so I know what I’m working towards this Summer but really dreaded it finally being in black and white. *** I know this is the best option right now. In fact, it’s sort of my only option right now. I’ve failed everything else, and even though the combination of biological drugs have made my colon better in the past twelve months, my terminal ileum is a mess. And it needs to come out so I can move forward; in so many ways! With […]

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GI Clinic – 05.04.16

It has already been six weeks since I was last in clinic to see my consultant. What’s happened since then? My colonoscopy has been performed and the outcome known by medical and surgical teams at Good Hope as well as the specialist consultant in Nottingham. I have finished up my course of steroids. I’ve been having considerable pain when eating and whilst moving my bowels. This has now resulted in bloating and considerably more fatigue. I went into clinic wanting to know why my MRI from October 2015 and the colonoscopy from last month didn’t quite match up. I was […]

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Colonoscopy – 08.03.16

The information below is taking from the patient packet received with my appointment letter. Please contact your own hospital for information on this procedure, if you are requested one, as information can vary between NHS Trusts. What is a colonoscopy? A colonoscopy is a technique to look directly at the lining of the large bowel (colon) to try and find out what is causing your problems. A colonoscope is a thin, flexible tube with a bright light on the end. This tube is passes through the back passage and into your bowel. It allows samples of tissue (a biospy) or […]

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