After my final diagnosis and initial meeting with my Colorectal consultant, it was decided that I would have surgery to acquire the latest fashion accessory – a colostomy bag.
My tumour is large, it is 8 inches long and it located low down in my colon and into my rectum and has basically blocked the passage out of my body making it difficult to eat. Having the colostomy would give me my appetite back and make the side effects of the forthcoming chemo radiation treatment easier to handle.
So, on the 12th November I was admitted to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Birmingham to have my bowel defunctioned and a stoma created to allow food to ‘output’.
The surgery was done by key hole and the surgery only took an hour and a half and was successful. I spent 5 nights in hospital in total. Even though I was lucky and had time to digest (ha ha digest) the idea of having a colostomy for 3 weeks before the surgery, I still came round feeling shocked and bewildered by the idea of having this bag attached to me for the rest of my life.
In the days following the surgery, along with the expected pain, I experienced blurred vision from the anaesthetic which added to my frustration. At the QE, you are placed on an enhanced recovery programme which helps you recover quicker and get you back home as soon as possible. You start eating the very next day and you’re encouraged to start looking after your stoma right from the very beginning so that you feel confident that you know what you’re doing once you get home.
I found this quite distressing although hid my feelings as I didn’t want to impede getting home. I was terrified of eating as I didn’t know what was going to happen, I was also still tender from the surgery so any grumble in my stoma’s direction caused me pain, although I was assured that the stoma has no nerve endings. I also struggled to look at my stoma, this horrible, swollen, bleeding mess that was now sewn to my stomach and blighted my whole body plus the just as ugly bag that was attached over the top of it. The thought of cleaning it made me feel ill but I had no choice as it would be my only way home plus something that I would have to get used to for the rest of my life.
5 weeks on and I can say that being the owner of a front butt is getting easier. The swelling from the surgery has gone down and my stoma has settled into a small neat circle and I’m managing the twice daily task of changing my bag.
Emotionally, I still feel vulnerable. I know that my body is never going to look the same and I’m still struggling with how the bag looks attached to me. I wonder how my husband will ever find me attractive again, although he assures me that he does.
My ‘output’ still hasn’t quite settled into a routine yet, and I swing from panicking about having a blockage to wishing that it would stop working. This sounds bizarre but I feel like my stoma has developed a personality and I’m sure it’s something that other colostomates can relate to. Although ‘we’ haven’t quite worked each other out yet, there are certain things that I can almost guarantee…
- My stoma will fart loud… in a really quiet room… in front of a lot of people. The only thing you can do is laugh it off – even if you are dying of embarrassment inside
- Either my bag will start to fill the minute I put a fresh one on or it will decide to fill the minute I walk outside the front door. Leaving the house on time seems impossible.
- If I’m sat at home alone all day nothing will happen at all – in fact it will be an oasis of calm
Me and my new friend one week after surgery