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What they don’t show you on TV

Today’s post is about how surgery is shown on TV and in films versus the realities. And how that perception can mean you’re in for a huge shock when you have an operation in real life. Surgery recovery is different for everyone, but it’s certainly very different to how it looks on Casualty!

It’s all blue lights flashing, being seen immediately and running down corridors with a patient on a bed. There’s the tense music and drama of the overhead scene in an operating theatre. Whilst sexy, brooding doctors heroically slice and dice.

Recovery is a brief montage that flips from patients laid covered in tubes to them bravely walking through physio, brows furrowed and swiftly back to normal.

This isn’t what it’s like in real life.

I mean, I get it! Of course things are dramatised and only the most exciting or entertaining parts are shown and have to fit within time limits. But it’s interesting just how far from the truth the scenes we see are. From movies to medical dramas to the fly on the wall real life medical shows, the thing I think that is the most lacking is the waiting, the boredom, the time it all takes.

Sam Cleasby surgery blogger

My experience of surgery and recovery

I’ve had 8 surgeries for things related to Ulcerative Colitis. From my experiences, it’s hard to relate to what you see on TV. And it’s not something we really talk about so it’s important to think about what expectations people have when they go into hospital for surgery.

Firstly the waiting times, in the medical dramas patients seem to go from diagnosis to surgery in a matter of hours. Most ops are planned in and you are waiting weeks or months for a surgery date. Even when it’s an emergency, it still takes a lot of time!

But the one that gives the most false expectations is about recovering from surgery. I remember a couple of days after surgery saying to Timm whilst I was crying and off my face of pain killers that I just wanted a montage of recovery and to be all better!

It takes time!

It takes time, so much time to recover from an operation. Just having a general anaesthetic is a huge amount of pressure on your body and takes months to be out of your system properly. My hair always falls out by the handful in the weeks after surgery and this is to do with the GA.

All the medication can really effect you, not just physically but mentally too. Confusion is really common after surgery and something that isn’t really discussed. Doctors and nurses tell me how common it is for patients to be extremely confused and even be delusional after surgery. Especially if they get infections. This is a big subject and I’ll be doing a separate blog post on it.

hand with cannulas in it and wires and tubes in the high dependency unit in hospital

Boredom

It’s so boring. Of course, TV shows don’t want to show the boring parts and as viewers we don’t want to see the boring parts! But man, it’s dull! Being unable to do all the usual things and having to so much time in bed or sat down is dull. It can be really hard to concentrate too. Just reading a book or watching films is really hard so the usual ways you relax can be out of reach in the early days.

And then the weeks that follow are a balancing act of moving about enough to keep your body ticking over. Keeping your muscles happy and lungs and breathing a-ok and not doing too much that you will harm your recovery. After abdominal surgery I’ve been told to lift nothing heavier than a kettle… it’s amazing how much in life is heavier than a kettle! It can be so frustrating to not be able to do all the things you usually would.

And the tiredness!!!! No one explains just how tiring it is, how your body is using so much energy in healing. A 10 minute conversation results in a 20 minute nap! I am unbelievably exhausted at the minute, and listening to my body is key. The body is hard at work even when just sat still, so tiredness is to be expected after any surgery.

Obviously I have no medical training and can only go on my own experiences. But it got me thinking about how we can better prepare people for surgery to combat all the things we’ve seen in the media? And I suppose for me it is speaking about it honestly and openly here on my blog.

Tell me about your experiences of surgery and how they compare with TV and film, you story might just help someone else struggling right now.

✌🏽& ❤️

Sam xx

Why is pain not taken seriously in hospital?

There’s 6 days to go before my surgery and I’m terrified. But you know what sucks? That the thing I’m most scared about is being left in pain on the wards after surgery. It’s 2019 and I’m not afraid of the surgery but that I won’t be given pain relief. How is this OK?

On three occasions now I have been left in agony on the wards after having major operations. Usually in the day after the epidural is taken down. The pain relief is not adequate or more likely not given at the right times by nurses.

What is happening with the NHS and pain?

You know that I love the NHS, I feel so lucky and blessed to have free at the point of use medical care. It’s something we should be protecting but something is going majorly wrong here.

I have been left multiple times sobbing and crying in agony on wards. Just begging nurses to please get me some pain relief. Ive had nurses ignore buzzers, walk right by me whilst I’m writhing and hysterically crying.

I tried to discharge myself from hospital after my last operation just 3 days post surgery because the care was so dire.

Why is it that weekend wards seem to include some terrible nurses on the teams? Of course not all nurses, but I’ve found in each of the 7 previous surgeries that the care goes massively downhill at weekends.

Pressing the nurse buzzer in hospital pain relief

Despite putting plans in place last time and seeing a specialised pain team before they took down my epidural and warning them of my fears that I wouldn’t have adequate pain relief and having my husband there as an advocate writing everything down. But the following day the nurse seemed reluctant to give me the pain relief. She said she’d be back and left me for well over an hour sobbing. She kept walking past my bed and pretending she couldn’t see me.

And others tell me the same story, that their pain is not taken seriously. That nurses especially on weekends are either extremely late in giving pain relief or make excuses and they are left in agony.

So why is it that our pain isn’t taken seriously in hospital?

How is it that my biggest fear of a major op is that pain medication will be withheld? I’m so frightened of this happening that it makes me not want to go in for the surgery.

I spoke to the Pre op nurse about this, her advice? Kick up a fuss. Don’t be a “good quiet patient”. Demand to see the ward matron and if nurses won’t do that then phone the switchboard. Ask to be put through to the ward matron and tell them the bay and bed you are in and that the nurses are not giving you adequate pain relief. Then call PALS and put in a formal complaint.

Honestly this doesn’t sit well with me, I hate to be a bother. I know that the majority of nurses are so hard working, passionate and brilliant. I know they’re under paid and over worked. But there are a few rotten apples who are ruining it for everyone.

Being a “good patient”

There are many reasons that patients don’t complain. From a lack of knowledge to inability due to physical or mental health . Also a fear of how your complaint will affect your future care and wanting to be a “good patient”.

But being a “good patient” is not about sitting in pain because you don’t want to bother the nurses. Being a good patient is about being a responsible participant in your own health. I read a book that said that “good patients” die more than people who are active in their health and recovery. Struggling in pain worsens your recovery and outcome and so we should be ensuring we have proper care.

But if a confident and outspoken person like me has been failed with pain relief and post op care then how many others without a voice are there? How many older people who don’t want to cause a scene are laid in pain? How many people too anxious to press their buzzer more than once?

What can we do about pain?

When you’re in hospital after surgery you are at your weakest, you have little or no control and are completely vulnerable. Yet we are being let down.

This issue has given me panic attacks, I’ve had to write this in a few sittings as my hands are shaking and I can’t breathe when I think about my surgery next week. When I think about it, I’m taken back to the pain, the tears, the begging. I’m taken back to a vicious old bitch of a nurse walking past me several times. To her rolling her eyes as I cried in pain and finally stabbing me hard in the arm with the morphine jab. To phoning Timm and begging him to discharge me as I had no trust in the nurse now. And I’m terrified it’s going to happen again.

Timm did come last time, he demanded to see the matron and get some answers as to why we’d seen the pain team that morning and had a plan in place and why it was ignored. He got me moved to a new ward and a promise that nurse wouldn’t come near me.

He has said he will be there this time and make sure it’s all ok and I have a back up plan.

But it shouldn’t come to this when all we are talking about is some painkillers.

And I still can’t answer the question of why our pain isn’t taken seriously.

✌🏽& ❤️

Sam

I got my date for surgery

So I have a date for the next, sorry I mean LAST surgery! 30th April I will be heading in for what I hope and pray will be the last operation I have.

Ive been referred onto a doctor who specialises in complex abdominal cases and he is going to repair the two hernias and move my stoma again. I have been warned that it is a major operation, that my case is complicated and will be difficult and that he won’t really know his plan until he opens me up.

The parastomal hernia is huge, the opening is very big and measures about 15cm on my stomach and they know I have a lot of adhesions, that everything is stuck together.

They said it will be around 6-7 hours of surgery, 10-14 days in hospital and 2-3 months off work recovering.

Ive been told it’s risky, that I have a 75% chance of complications and that is terrifying me. I have stopped smoking though, I’ve moved onto a vape and this reduces my risks by 10% so that’s one positive.

Ill be going straight onto the POSU (Post Operative Surgical Unit) with the chance that I may need some time in HDU (High Dependency Unit).

Sam Cleasby Sheffield blogger chronic illness hospital surgery

How am I feeling? Well it feels very real now, though I knew it was coming, having a date has set it in motion and I’m feeling panicky and anxious. I’m scared of the complications, I’m scared of the long hospital stay, I’m scared I won’t come home.

I know I can’t dwell on thinking negatively but man, I just feel so frightened that this will be the one that it too much. This will be surgery number 8 in the past 5 1/2 years and I can’t shake the feeling that it’s one too many.

I’m in so much pain every day, it feels like everything is going to fall out of my stomach every time I stand up. I am struggling to function, I’m always in bed. Doing one thing means a week of being unable to stand. I’m always medicated and drugged up and I know I can’t live like this and that I need this surgery.

And so I have to try and think positively, I’m reading a lot about the mind body connection and how meditation and visualisation can decrease pain, stress and anxiety and can improve mental health, shorten recovery time and help you heal quicker.

I feel like I’m on a narrow ridge, on one side is positivity, strength and happiness and on the other is a swirling mass of anxiety, fear, sadness and panic and honestly, I feel like I could lose my balance either way right now. I’m trying to slide into the positivity but there’s this weight pulling me towards to shit storm of crapness.

Planning

All I can do is fight. I’m doing everything I can to be as strong as I can mentally going into this. I’m meditating daily, I’m spending time outdoors, I’m planning my recovery.

But there’s still a part of me that is planning to fail. The chest freezer I bought and filled with food so Timm won’t need to worry too much about big shops when I’m in hospital is also a safety net of me thinking they’ll have food if I don’t make it. The days out and nice things I’m pushing myself to do are because I won’t be able to do much for a couple of months will also be nice memories for the what if.

Fuck, that’s dark isn’t it!!

The thing is that keeping those dark thoughts to myself gives them power, it allows them to take over my head and drown out anything good and so I say them out loud and yes, they’re depressing and horrible and messed up. But then I see them written down and can separate myself from them, I can see them for what they are; my anxious brain coming up with a list of what ifs and plans for the worst.

And once they’re out there, maybe I can let them go and go into this surgery as positive as I can be.

Wish me luck, I’m going to need it.

✌🏽& ❤️

Sam xx

I had my pre op!

This week I had my pre op assessment for my upcoming surgery. Pre ops are for when you’re having a general anaesthetic. You have a hospital appointment with a nurse to check if you’re fit enough for surgery.

They check your height, weight and blood pressure, take blood. Then they either take swabs to check for MRSA if you have your surgery date soon or send you home with a swab kit for you to do the week before surgery. It is an assessment to check whether you’re fit to have a general anaesthetic.

Its also an opportunity to discuss the surgery and any concerns you might have. As I’ve mentioned before my biggest fear at the minute is that I won’t receive proper pain relief after the surgery as this has happened to me twice before in this hospital.

After a big op like the one I’m having, I tend to have an epidural in place that delivers pain relief for the first few days after surgery. When this is taken down it can be a big shock to the system and good regular pain relief is a must.

My worries

Unfortunately twice now I have been left in agony due to the ward nurses not giving me appropriate drugs on time. Now I’m terrified it will happen again. So much so that I almost don’t want to have the surgery at all.

But I got time to speak to the nurse this week and share my fears. She told me that it was unacceptable that this had happened and that if it happened again, to immediately ask to see the matron who would sort it out and be majorly pissed off at nurses not doing their jobs.

As I’ve said so many times, I have huge respect for nurses and the vast majority are bloody wonderful! But there are some shockers.

Mind/Body connection

In a book I read this week (healing from the inside out, Nauman Naeem) it talks about how ‘good patients’ as in those who don’t speak up, press the buzzer, complain when needed are at much higher risk of complications and that rather than being a patient we should be a respant – a responsible participant.

The nurse also has arranged for the accute pain team to see me ASAP after surgery and has made notes for the anaesthetist to let them know how nervous I am and my past experience. She said they will be able to write me up for decent pain relief before they even consider taking the epidural down.

She has reiterated just how complex this surgery is going to be, around 7 hours in theatre and a high risk of complications. They have booked me into the post operative surgery unit (POSU) for straight after where they’ll keep a closer eye on me and if I need to be transferred to the High Dependency Unit they can do that quicker and more easily.

Feeling scared

I will need to be in hospital for at least 10 days and recovery will be 2-3 months.

They will be repairing the huge parastomal hernia, it’s a massive opening about 15cm and the incisional hernia on the other side and moving my stoma again. I have adhesions everywhere and so these may cause problems.

Its fair to say that I’m terrified.

Im trying very hard to stay positive, I have a new mantra (again from reading the book above) that I tell myself every day to fight against the feelings that everything is so tough right now and I hope that having more open and positive thoughts will aid in my healing.

“I am open and welcoming to healing, strength, love, joy and happiness”

✌🏽& ❤️

Sam xx

Health update

I thought I would give a bit of a health update as I feel like I am just constantly complaining on social media about how grim I feel.

I have two large hernias (I know, I know, I’m as sick of hearing that word as you are!), one is a parastomal hernia, this means it is sat right behind my stoma and one is an incisional hernia in one of my many surgery sites.  The parastomal one is the most painful, it is quite large and gets bigger throughout the day.  It is a constant feeling of pressure behind it and it feels like all my insides are going to burst out at any minute! The second hernia is not painful all the time, but a few times a day it is an awful stabbing pain, it takes my breath away and so between the two I am really struggling with pain.  I’m on codeine and nefapam for the pain which help but also make me super groggy.

The other issue is I have a large ovarian cyst, at the last CT it had grown and was around 7cm big, I am having weird periods (long gaps and random bleeds) and a feeling like constant bad period pain.  I also apparently have a large, fluid filled fallopian tube (because why not throw another thing at me!!) and so I am waiting for further scans and tests for this.  I think it is due to the huge amount of adhesions in my body, basically everything is stuck together and altogether unhappy in there.

So the plan is for the gynae surgeon to take out the cyst at the same time as they fix my hernias if possible. Mr Brown wants to get another surgeon involved, he specialises in complex abdominal cases and I have an appointment to see him at the beginning of February.

And so I am just still in limbo waiting for a surgery plan and date. On one hand, it just cant come soon enough, I am getting to the point where the pain is getting too much, my nerves are shred and every ounce of patience has been used up.  I am short tempered, pissed off and struggling to not lose my shit.

Talking of losing my shit, the parastomal hernia is making my stomach a very weird shape and so bags are not wanting to stay put, so I am leaking really often which is just making life all the crappier.  This is my parastomal hernia, the pic was taken after a day of rest and so is actually not as big as it usually is.

parastomal hernia

Most days I look about 6 months pregnant and so that’s not much fun at all…

I dropped my work days down to three days a week a couple of months ago as I was finding it so hard to keep up with everything whilst feeling so ill, exhausted and in pain every day.  This has helped a lot, but to be honest, even part time work is a real struggle right now.

Also because I had two surgeries last year and subsequent time off to recover, I am out of paid sick days so I am panicking about how much time I will need off after this next op. If it goes to plan and they do the two surgeries in one go, it will be a big old op and I will need a lot of time off afterwards to allow myself to heal. But I also won’t be paid for this time.  Of course, my health has to come first and I will take as much time as I need and the doctors recommend but adding the financial worry to the mix isn’t helping.

And so I think that is everything up to date health wise. Basically my body is broken and I’m waiting to see if docs can make life a bit less shit!

I know I have been a right whinging bag on facebook and twitter, but honestly I don’t even apologise for it! Life with chronic illness isn’t all positive quotes over images of clouds, it’s not all high fives for celebrating our awesomeness and shiny, happy selfies with puppy noses.  Sometimes it is dark and miserable, lonely and scary and the one thing I promised myself over 5 years ago when I started this blog was that I would be honest about the highs and the lows.

Thank you so much for all the kind, lovely messages I have received over the past few weeks, I try my best to reply to everyone but don’t always have the energy, but I do read them all and each one means the world, so thank you.

Sam xx

The C word

No, not Cotton Headed ninny muggins.  Or C**t. But Cancer. Today I’m writing about cancer.

Before it feels too click baity, first up, I don’t have cancer, so no panicking!!! But I’m in the middle of a bit of a scare, so here goes…

A few weeks ago I had a CT scan to take a closer look at my hernia and then a couple of days later I ended up seeing my GP as I was having terrible acid reflux along with lots of stomach pain. I’d assumed it was all linked to the hernia.

The GP pulled up my CT scan results and told me that it had been noted that I had a very pronounced ovary. He started asking more questions about periods, pain levels, weight etc and then told me he’d like to do some blood tests. He explained that it was probably nothing but he wanted to check my CA125 tumour markers, that this marker looked at ovarian cancer and he just wanted to rule it out.

He explained that I could get an abnormal result simply as I’ve had abdominal surgery this year but he wanted to look.

I usually have regular (if very heavy) periods, but the past few months have been off kilter, being up to 3 weeks late which never happens! I’ve been having trouble eating as I’m getting heartburn and indigestion and a lot of bloating along with peeing a lot and lots of stomach pain but I’d put this all down to my usual problems.

A week later he called to tell me that they had come back high (a normal result is 0-35, mine was 68). He explained that this number can go into the thousands and so though mine were above normal range, they still weren’t sky high and still could be explained by other things but it was concerning him and he wanted to book me in for an urgent ultrasound.

It’s been a rough couple of weeks. Though I’ve tried to not get worried it’s hard to not let your mind run away with yourself and panic.

I started thinking about how I take painkillers every single day, how I’ve used a hot water bottle daily for months to ease the pain, how the pain in my stomach is often so bad that I can’t stand. I thought about how I’d put all this down to post surgery pain and the hernia and I’ve been scared that perhaps I’ve missed something bad.

Today I had the scan, I cried a lot in the morning, thinking that this could change everything, I was shaking and scared. I was hoping they’d see nothing and I could go back to just worrying about my stoma and chronic illness!!!

They found a large cyst on my left ovary, it’s about six and a half centimetres which apparently is quite big and so it is a concern.

The GP called me this evening and said that it could be just a normal benign cyst, but due to the size and the high blood tests, he wants it checked and so has put me through for an urgent referral to the gynae clinic.

Their course of action could be:

Rescan and more bloods

More scans/MRI

Surgery to remove it

But we’ll have to wait and see. There’s still a good chance this is a run of the mill cyst that will cause no more trouble but he had to warn me that it could be cancerous.

But the good thing is that due to catching it accidentally on the CT scan means it can all be diagnosed and treated early and I’m staying positive that whatever the little bugger is, I’m in good hands.

The past few weeks have been worrying and scary, even though I KNOW you should never google symptoms, I have done and it’s scared the pants off me.

Im just so fed up, my health has been one shitty thing after another and this year has been pants! Two surgeries this year alone and now the possibility of not just one more to deal with the hernia but potentially two more! I’m done in.

I am weepy, impatient and frazzled. I really must have done something bad in a past life!!! I’m scared. I know I need to think positively but it’s hard to not think the worst when it comes to people mentioning the big C.

But I must shake it off and keep my game face on because whatever the results, I will smash it!

✌🏽& ❤️

Sam xx

 

Surgery number 7!

If you follow me on social media, you’ll know that I had my big op a couple of weeks ago, it’s been a really tough time so I’m only now just well enough to blog about it.

So a bit of background, I had developed a hernia in the incision of my old stoma site and had surgery to operate in March to fix this. After that operation, my surgeon told me it was worse than expected and there was another hernia behind my stoma.

Over the next few weeks, these hernias grew and developed and were extremely painful and getting in the way of day to day life and so the decision was made that I’d need yet another surgery to fix these.

Parastomal hernia

It was decided that I’d try and wait till after August for this op, both to give my body time to recover and also as we are going on an American road trip in August and I wanted to make sure I was well for this.

The pain was getting worse week on week, I had a weeks holiday at the end of May to have some time at home around my birthday and I ended up spending that whole week in bed in agony. My birthday was spent having a bbq with our two best friends in a quiet evening at home where I could lay down and rest. Beautiful but disappointing to feel so poorly.

My beloved nan also took a turn for the worse and so I was trying my best to visit and spend time with her.  On Sunday 3rd June, we went and spent the day with her, she was very tired and on medication but it was lovely to spend time with her and lots of my family.

On Monday 4th, I was in a lot of pain, I could barely stand and my hernia was really stuck out, the decision was made that I needed to get into hospital the following day and have emergency surgery. It was a huge shock and I was frightened about it all.

And then I got the worst phone call. My beautiful, incredible nan had passed away. We rushed straight to her house and spent a few hours with her, holding her, kissing her and just being in her presence. I felt everything crashing away from under me. I can’t say much more at the minute, it’s too raw and painful.

The following morning, Timm took me into hospital and on Thursday 7th I had my surgery.

I had repair of two hernias and resiting of my stoma on the left side. It was quite a long and complex operation as I had a lot of adhesions, mesh and scars to deal with. I believe it took around 5-6hours and honestly has been the toughest one so far.

Perhaps it’s my age or the previous scars etc but either way, this one has floored me.

It was a bit of a shock really to wake up from such a big op, I hadn’t been expecting it and I was still reeling from loss and so my head was all over the place. The first day was a haze of morphine, I had very low blood pressure but I was feeling ok.

The pain team came to see me and explained the plan in place for taking me off the epidural, I told them that I was quite scared as I knew from previous experience what a shock it can be coming off the epidural. I was assured that everything would be in place and I wouldn’t have any pain.

The following morning I was given paracetamol codiene and eventually Oramorph, I’d asked Timm to come in to advocate for me as I knew it was always tough coming off and getting it right. We were told I could have oramorph every hour and that I’d be fine. Happy with this, Timm left to sort the kids out.

The pain started to grow and I saw a nurse who gave me paracetamol, she offered codiene but said I couldn’t have codiene and oramorph together and so I requested the oramorph. She went to get it.

Twenty minutes passed and the pain was blooming through my body, I pressed the buzzer and was told they’d let the nurse know. Another twenty minutes passed and I was in tears, I couldn’t breathe, I was sweating and moaning. I pressed the buzzer and told them I’d take anything just please give me pain relief. Again they went away saying they’d tell a nurse.

Another twenty minutes passed. I was crying hysterically and pressing the buzzer. No one came. Another patient came over and said ‘can I hug you? You’re in so much pain and I can’t believe they’re ignoring you’.

Eventually the nurse came over, she asked what all the fuss was about. I said ‘please just give me the fucking drugs!!’. She was angry and said she didn’t have to be spoken to like that. I begged her ‘please just give me the drugs!’  She angrily jabbed me in the arm leaving a painful red lump and stormed away.

Ten minutes later she returned saying I could have another injection, she was fuming and said I was a disruptive patient. I tried to explain that I was in agony and I’d been promised that I wouldn’t be left in pain. That I was sorry I swore but I was terrified and the pain was too much and I’d been left for an hour. She rolled her eyes at me and was so cold and rude. I said she was being really uncaring and she just rolled her eyes and so I said that my husband was coming in.

Honestly I was in shock, I couldn’t believe that I’d been left in that state. It was less than 48 hours after a huge surgery where I have two big wounds and a new stoma. I was left crying on a ward for an hour whilst they ignored me.

After this, I was laid in bed sobbing. I was in shock, distressed and as the pain relief took effect I was shaking. My arm was red and swollen where she rammed the injection in and I felt so low and just not human.

You all know I love our NHS, I wouldn’t be here without it, it’s amazing. But sometimes people let it down. This nurse was the coldest most uncaring person I’ve ever met. She looked at me like I was shit, she hurt me, she made me feel like I didn’t matter.

We complained and the matron came to see us, she was lovely and listened. She understood and apologised. I apologised for swearing, that i wasn’t like that but the pain was so much. She said it was totally understandable. We will be taking this further.

Thankfully I have a voice, and I have a husband to come and fight my battles with me but there are many who don’t and it’s for them that I must take the complaint further to make sure this doesn’t happen to anyone else.

Sam Cleasby surgery blogger

Once the pain relief was under control, the rest of the stay in hospital was quite normal. Timm came every day, he was my hero. I was struggling as I had no appetite, but the nurses were wonderful and really supportive which was a relief after such a poor start.

My blood results weren’t great though and there was concern about infection but then they dropped to within normal limits and I was let home on Tuesday 12th June.

Sam and Timm Cleasby

As far as we know, the surgery went well. I have a large scar up my middle and the old stoma site has been left open and is being packed every day by the district nurse. It’s a bit of a shock to see a big hole in your tummy though!

This has ended up being a super long post and so I’m going to end it here and I’ll do another post about recovery at home AKA it all goes tits up and Sam thinks she’s going to die… (spoiler, I obviously don’t die)

Adios!

Sam xx

Next surgery date

My next surgery will be next Monday, the 12th March and it’s for the hernia above my stoma from my old stoma site.

Im feeling really nervous for this one, I know it’s not the biggest or longest op I’ve had by far! But I think because I had mentally prepared myself for no more surgeries this one is freaking me out a bit!

I think my main concern is that the hernia is so close to my stoma that it’s a worry that if it’s too close, they may have to resite my stoma which is obviously a much bigger op with a tougher recovery.

The scans we are going off are from last summer and I know the hernia is much much worse than then.  So I suppose I’m just really apprehensive that going into a simple op may mean I wake up with a much harder surgery to recover from.

I’ll be heading in first thing Monday morning and it will either be a 1-2 night stay or a bit longer if the surgery is harder. And then home for a few weeks rest and recovery.

Work have been fantastic and have told me to take as long as I need, they are really supportive and it’s lovely as this is my first op where I’ve had sick pay!! After all my other ops we knew that it would be weeks and weeks of me earning nothing which obviously puts so much more pressure on us as a family and so it’s great to know that the pressure is off and I can actually concentrate on getting better without the voice in my ear telling me to get back to work and earn some cash!

Going into any surgery is scary, and I need to try and calm my nerves and ignore the dread in my stomach that something is going to go wrong.

Its not great timing, Ell starts mock GCSEs on the same day and I’m hoping that they can concentrate on their exams and not worry too much about me. The kids hate me being in hospital and I know they’ll be stressed next week. I hate that I cause them hurt and fear but we’ve talked about it and they’re feeling as ok as they can.

So I will let you know how things go next week!!

Thanks for all the messages of support

 

Sam xx

Iron Infusions

I have finally been signed off from my surgeon!!! Hooray!!! It only took 3 and a half years! Though I am sad to not be seeing the wonderful Mr Brown any more, it is a huge relief to think that unless anything goes wrong, I shouldn’t be having any more surgeries!!!

I am not under the medical team in Sheffield and my consultant is Prof Lobo, who is a legend in the Sheffield IBD scene (SUCH a niche scene!) – I saw him and asked him about this fatigue and if there was anything we could do about it.  He said that fatigue in IBD patients is so tough to deal with as often they will not find one specific reason for the tiredness.

He did my bloods and found me lacking in ferritin and so he prescribed iron tablets, I was to take 200mg of ferrous sulphate three times a day for three months and then we could reassess.  Unfortunately, the tablets didnt suit me at all, they made me so nauseous and sick, I couldnt concentrate as the sickness was so awful. I ended up having time off work because I felt so rubbish.

So I spoke to the specialist IBD nurse and she said that she’d book me in for an iron infusion.  I had to go to hospital and have some bloods taken, then the first infusion took about 25 minutes.  A week later I went back for the second one but that only took 6 minutes.

The put a cannula in your hand or arm and then flush it with saline, then attach a drip bag to a stand and leave you to it.  There is a chance of reactions to the infusion, so you have to stay for around 30 minutes afterwards to check you are ok.  On my second infusion, I came over really faint.  I got really hot and thought I was going to pass out.  Embarrassingly, I had just missed breakfast and was a little light headed, so a cup of tea and a slice of toast and I was back on my feet.

Lots of people have told me that after their infusions, a few days after they have felt the full benefits and been filled with energy and felt a million times better.  Unfortunately for me this hasn’t been the case, I can’t really tell the difference.  I still am exhausted all the time, I finish work and go straight to sleep, Im mainly found hanging out in bed in my pyjamas!

But it is step one on the road to figuring out the fatigue, Im glad we tried it, but ready to look at what else we can do.

 

Sam xx

Dear tea lady,

Dear Tea Lady,

I am so sorry that I don’t know your name, but every time we have met (which has been probably 20 times over the past three and a half years!) I have been dreadfully ill and self indulgent.  I do genuinely feel bad that I can’t remember your name as you have been one of the most important people in my recovery.  But I’m going to blame the drugs.

So dear Tea Lady of the Northern General hospital, I wanted to write a big thank you letter to you.  I have had 4 of my 5 surgeries at your hospital and benefitted from the wonderful care of top surgeons, consultants, anaesthetists, specialists, registrars, doctors, students, nurses and support workers.  All of these people gave me the most brilliant support and health care, I am so lucky to live in the UK and get free at the point of care, world class treatment.

I have had my colon removed, an ostomy created, a jpouch created, a jpouch removed, two hernias fixed, a rectum and anus removed and another ostomy created.  I have also spent weeks and weeks in hospital receiving medication, treatment, blood transfusions and care.

hospital pouch ibd ulcerative colitis

But you know the person who made me feel so much better every day? Yep, it was you!

I saw my consultant for a couple of minutes on their morning rounds, the doctors if something is going wrong, nurses through the day who are so busy and overworked and though I am sure they would like to spend a little more time with patients, they just can’t, I saw support workers, specialists and that huge team for the surgeries themselves.  Yet it was your face that made me smile several times a day.

You make your rounds with your tea cart and after day one, take the time to remember, not only my name, but also how I take my tea! It is a small yet important part of my hospital day, a little feeling of personal care and a reminder of home.

You made me feel special, when you spend a lot of time in hospital, you very quickly become institutionalised, it’s so easy to end up feeling like a number.  But you made me feel like a person, a person who likes their tea strong, yet milky and with one sugar.

I wonder if you know just how important your role is? Do you understand that you become a part of so many people’s recovery story.  You are the person I saw the most, a constant, nurses change from shift to shift, you only see doctors if something is going wrong, yet you are the person I saw several times a day, every day.  Your days off is always a sad one.

And so I want to thank you.

Thank you for all the tea, thank you for the extra biccies on the evenings where you thought I looked like I needed them, thank you for remembering me, thank you for knowing I am a person, not just a patient, thank you for the times you noticed I looked sad and came and touched my hand and made eye contact, thank you for taking your time to speak to me, thank you for the magazines you brought over when I was bed ridden, thank you for telling me about yourself, thank you for the gossip, thank you for being wonderful.

Tea Lady, you are awesome. (And I am really sorry that I can’t remember your name)

Sam xx