The 2nd Op – 14 July 2011

8am I was ready. I was washed and waiting. My Parent’s arrived just before I was called down to Theatre. I could hardly look at them. I was so scared. I said goodbye and tried not to cry, but I couldn’t hold back the tears. I was so scared I wasn’t going to wake up.  The first operation I probably thought about not waking up for only a brief minute or two, but this time it was really playing on my mind.  It probably explains my mood the day before. I was a nightmare to my parent’s. I was snappy and angry. They left after they’d had enough of me. That night my mum phoned me to see if I was OK and to make up after the argument.  I cried myself to sleep that night, not wanting the op to come.

I did wake up from the op. I was comfortable but sleepy. I remember listening to the nurses talking. They were bitching about another member of staff. It didn’t take me long to work out who was getting a slating. I agreed with them in my mind.

Whilst still in the recovery room the nurses were checking me over constantly. It was in recovery where I first saw my wound. It was neat. There wasn’t a stoma there anymore. The bag had gone. I had a dressing there instead. I remember thinking thank god it’s gone.  My stomach now has a 10 inch vertical scar going up the middle from my pubic area roughly and I have a 5 inch horizontal scar on my stomach hovering over my right hip bone area. Where the stoma was. The 10 inch scar is more prominent now because he re opened me up through it.

I went back to my room after recovery were happy with me. Mum and Dad were there and this time Mum was sobbing. Last time it was Dad. I don’t think I could begin to imagine what it’s like for them. Sat there for 4 – 5 hours wondering what’s happening. At least I was asleep.  I was back in my room around lunchtime.

I was pretty limited to start with so I just stayed put in bed hooked up to morphine, oxygen and drips. Mum and dad read to me or watched TV with me. They’d encourage me to drink. They were there everyday, from morning to night. They put up with my tears, tantrums, sulking, anger and downright crap behaviour. Crazy thing is I would get angry sometimes and act like I didn’t want them there. But when they left at night, I’d cry. I hated being on my own.

I had a new gadget which I’d not had to deal with before. Because of the sickness I’d experienced and because my bowel went to sleep during the op, they left a nasogastric tube in my right nostril. Which went down my throat into my stomach. My throat hurt so much. It hurt to drink and take meds. It made me incredibly miserable. For the first few days I was still sick – which is no fun when your abdomen has recently been opened up and stitched up again. They used to have to connect my nasogastric tube to a syringe and suck out the liquid sitting in my stomach. Grim. Very grim.  I also had a central line on the left side of my neck. It hurt. The one before didn’t. They used it to feed me, whilst my bowel was asleep. It wasn’t until a few days after the op I was told I could try soft foods such as ice cream and soup.

My Surgeon would visit daily and we discussed how I felt about not having the stoma bag.  I told him I was relieved. He agreed, and told me he’d been worried about how I was coping. He’d told my mum he was worried about me mentally. I wasn’t coping. Looking back maybe I would have coped if I hadn’t been ill because of the kink. If I’d just had the bag to deal with I might have grasped it. Then again, I never thought at age 28 I’d have a stoma bag. I’d always associated them with old people. But my god did I have my eyes opened. There’s people out there living lives with stoma bags, you would not believe how many and how different each one is. Of all ages too. I have a lot of admiration for the people living with them forever. I’ll never know now if I would have coped, I only ever dealt with a faulty stoma.

Physiotherapy came and went. Torturing me each time.  I really struggled at times to move. I felt guilty because I wasn’t up and about. Then a nurse said “You’ve had two big operations very close together, your body is pretty tender at the moment”. So I sort of accepted it was going to take longer to recover than it normally would. I didn’t mind so much this time. The tumour was gone, and so was the stoma. No point giving up now is there?

Recovery wasn’t that simple though whilst I was in hospital. My central line started to really hurt and started making my neck and head hurt. I eventually couldn’t lift my head up on my own. The central line was faulty, and the food drip had somehow been leaking around my body and not going into the vein. I was swollen and sore for a few days, but eventually it cleared up. It really freaked me out actually. My wound was also infected in two places which meant the staples were taken out early and I had two holes on my stomach filling up with gunk. One was 8cm long by about 8cm deep and the other was about 5cm deep by about 4cm long. I was given another vac dressing to help heal the two wounds.

The final test was my bowels. It’s normal for them to go to sleep during surgery as they don’t like being handled. So we had to wait patiently for them to wake up. Which started about a week after surgery. Started with tummy rumbling and then eventually passing wind at 4am. You have to remember I’d not experienced that feeling since before the op in May. It all felt very alien.  A few days later I then went to the toilet and passed a stool, but it was basically liquid. This was good news and meant things were working. The Surgeon was chuffed. We’d got there. Things were working again. 

It takes a while for the bowel to settle down, especially after small bowel has been removed and so has the rectum. I was warned I’d experience unsettled bowels for a while and to have a very basic diet with no fibre in it to get me started.  It’s now 1 September 2011. I’m getting there slowly with the bowels and eating. Yesterday I had carrots for the first time in months with my dinner. Paid for it slightly today I think, but at least I’m trying things out. I’ll get there eventually. Just might need to keep the imodium close by.


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