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Surgery number 5

Like Mambo number 5 but with more general anaesthetic!

So if you follow me on Facebook, twitter and instagram, you may have seen that I have been under the knife again.  I have had two hernias develop since my last op in January and I was on the waiting list to get them fixed by Mr Brown but last week, out of no where, I had a huge, sharp pain in my stomach and my incisional hernia (that runs through my belly button) had popped out and got stuck.

I was sick with the pain and knew immediately that I needed help, I never go to A&E as I hate the waits and the people in the waiting rooms (I know that’s judgemental, sorry!!) But I called Timm from work and asked him to come home and take me to hospital.

incisional hernia with ostomy

I was vomiting with the pain, sweating, crying and a general mess but was seen quite quickly and taken onto a surgical assessment ward where doctors thought I would need surgery as soon as possible.  I stayed in overnight and had a CT scan as they thought that there were loops of bowel stuck through my hernia and were worried they would be damaged.  The scan showed that the hernia was very large and there was fat and tissue stuck through it but luckily no bowel.  I was very relieved as I don’t have that much left, so I can’t risk losing any more!! The other thing it showed though was that my parastomal hernia was worse than imagined and the two were almost joining up with only a centimetre between them, so surgery was the only option.

It was all such a whirlwind, the next thing I knew I was being prepped for surgery, and then I awoke in recovery!  It was a big surgery, almost 5 hours long and a lot more complicated than the doctors had first thought.  They had to open me up and pull in the muscles from the sides, remove the tissue that had been stuck and fix the two hernias with two types of mesh.  One was made from pig skin, so you can officially call me Miss Piggy!

incisional hernia with ostomy surgery

After a few days in hospital, I asked to be discharged home on Monday and have been recovering at home since then.  It has been really painful, a lot more painful than my last hernia op, than in comparison was extremely simple. I feel like a punchbag, I am pretty much bed ridden and really struggling to do much at all.  I am feeling quite emotional and sad about it all, I think it is just the shock of everything happening so quickly, it is taking a bit of time for my head to catch up with the rest of me.

It’s all a bit sudden to be honest and has thrown things up in the air as I am due to start a new job and also because I am about to fly to India in a couple of weeks and so I was in a real panic going to surgery as I had no idea how it would affect these things.  But after talking with Timm, we are on it.  To be honest, it is good timing for the job, I’m not due to start till after my hols and so it means that it is done and dusted before work starts.

Regarding India, it is a bit scary.  If this were just a holiday, I would cancel.  But we are going to our family’s home town where they are honouring my grandfather who passed away this year in a football match and commemoration where we are scattering his ashes.  It is so important to me to attend and so I am fighting through.  Doctors are backing me on this as they understand how much it means and I am under instruction to wear surgical stockings, have daily blood thinning injections and a whole list of other things to keep me healthy.  We are getting a wheelchair to help me whilst we are away and Timm, my mum and the kids are all going to help support me too.

incisional hernia with ostomy surgery staples

So the next couple of weeks is all about rest and healing.  I am doing nothing other than concentrating on my health and getting fit and ready for what I hope is the start of a new chapter in my life.  The past three years have been so difficult, with surgeries, anxiety, illness, fatigue and depression, but now I feel I am turning a new page (ALLLLLL the cliches are coming out now!) and with a surgery to fix all the hernias done, my ileostomy settling in and a new job, I hope life is going to be brighter.

 

Thank you all so much for all your love, support and care

 

You are awesome

 

Sam xx

Hernia date booked!

Very quick update about Harry the hernia… I blogged about getting the news I was being treated at a private hospital.

Well, my letter has come through and I’m booked in for the 21st March! Just under 3 weeks time.

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Though I know it’s a routine operation and I trust my fabulous surgeon Mr Brown implicitly, I am very nervous. I think psychologically, I associate hospitals with so much pain and missing my family and so my anxiety levels are quite high thinking about surgery.

I even thought about cancelling, I just got myself in a bit of a panic and was thinking that the hernia isn’t that bad and that I could live with it. The reality is that it isn’t as bad as the last one. But it is uncomfortable every day and stops me doing things. It’s a sharp sickly pain when it pops out but because it’s not agony, I was thinking maybe I should wait.

I got over myself though and know I need this surgery to help me feel like I’m back on the road to recovery and so I will be going ahead.

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I’m hoping that the change in environment may help my anxiety. I’ve never been to this hospital before and so it’s a different feeling to going ‘back’ to the Northern General. The place looks gorgeous and I’ll hopefully only be in for one night.

As with all surgeries, I have this panic that I won’t wake up. But I trust Mr Brown and really do feel like I’m in the safest hands and so I need to try to let go of that fear and accept that I will be cared for.

The kids are upset about me going back in.  They always get very concerned when I have to go into hospitals even if it’s just for a clinic visit, as they are afraid I will stay there for a couple of weeks.  But I have assured them that it will be a brief stay, the doctors say one night in, and this hospital doesn’t have set visiting hours and I will have a private room so they should be able to visit me whenever they like.  This really helps Timm as trying to arrange visits and school runs was quite stressful for him before.

I am having an operation on an Incisional Hernia, which means the weakness is where they cut me for the stoma, this is my second hernia op in a year and unfortunately the chances of it coming back are quite high.  But I will plod on in the hope that one year I will go a full 12 months without any surgery!!

 

I will, of course be blogging up to and after my surgery, so do keep reading!

 

Sam x

Four weeks post op

Wow! What a difference a month makes! Four weeks ago today I had my surgery, I had my large bowel removed in a subtotal colectomy and an end ileostomy formed.

Four weeks ago about now I was being taken to the HDU, I was covered in wires, drips and tubes. It was a scary day and a month on I think I’m still a bit in shock that it actually happened.

In the past four weeks there’s been ups and downs, good days and bad. On the good days I’m thankful that I no longer have ulcerative colitis, that Im not on any medication and that my life can begin again. On bad days I feel sorry for myself. I feel angry that this had to happen to me and sad that I have this bloody bag on me all the time.

The weekend was fantastic. Definitely good days. On Saturday my best friends Caroline and Jamie were round and we had a work day planning all the exciting things we are doing in the next year with our arts group Responsible Fishing – it felt great to be getting back to some work and then we ended the evening with food, wine, a fire and a film.

Sunday we went to my mums for dinner, my friends, Aunty and cousins joined us. Mum made her amazing curries and we had a lovely day eating, drinking and laughing. It’s my first curry since the op, so I was terrified it was going to react badly with my stoma. My mum is from Aizawl, near India and so family curry days are a big part of our lives. I can report that my stoma likes beef curry, chicken biryani and dahl!!!

My friend Corinne (aka Motherscuffer) had her baby this weekend which was huge cause for celebration! I haven’t met her newest son Arthur yet but I can’t wait to see him for a squeeze!!!

Yesterday I had trouble with my bag leaking. And then when I was trying to change it, it kept ‘going off’. There’s no muscle in my stoma and so I have no control over when output (poo to you and me) comes out. Yesterday it was bad timing on when I changed it and EVERY time I cleaned up, put on the powder and barrier and then tried to put a bag on it ‘went off’. It was really frustrating and took me 45 minutes ending in me crying and feeling very down.

I didn’t sleep well last night. I’m off the steroids and no longer taking the sleeping tablets. But it was the fear off leaking in bed that kept me up. Timm told me it was fine, to sleep and if anything happened he’d deal with it all. He is fab and not at all squeamish with the whole thing which really helps but every time I was about to drop off, I’d imagine I was leaking and wake up. Very frustrating as I was telling myself to sleep, that it probably wouldn’t lean but if it did, it would be all ok,but my mind just wouldn’t accept that!

I’ve seen my stoma nurse today who is helping me try different bags to get my confidence back up and to get a bag that works for me. The problem is that my stoma is very close to both my belly button and my scar, I also have changes to my skin where the scars are pulling it inwards so I have dips in my stomach.

These things mean that it’s quite awkward to fit the base plate to my skin and that I have to fill the dips with paste. This means that changing my bag is stressful and time consuming. It’s really frustrating and makes me worry about how Ill get on with it in the coming months. I’m worried about working, I run a photography company with Timm and I worry that all the pressure is on him. I just hope things will get easier.

I’m recovering really well though. My wound which is around 6 inches long that 4 weeks ago was opened up and allowed surgeons to have a good rummage around is closed and just looks like a red line with dots around it (the staples marks!) My stoma is healing really well. I’m off ALL meds which just feels amazing!! And I’m starting to get my strength and stamina back.

I still have to take it really easy, one task can mean an hours nap but its great to be back on my feet and to gain back a little independence. I still rely on Timm a lot but its nice to be able to make tea for the kids now and again or to do little things around the house and garden.

We have a few large apple trees in the garden and tonight I was out with Timm collecting all the wind falls. I did have to sit on the ground but it was fab to be getting out and doing. We have soooooo many apples so were planning a lot if apple based dishes and more excitingly cider!!!

My body has healed so well over the past four weeks and I know it’s going to get better each day now. Though I sometimes feel emotional, angry and upset I keep trying to stay positive, be mindful of all the good things in my life and look to the future.

Because four weeks ago I was cured of ulcerative colitis, the disease that rules my life for ten years. And so for that I am truly grateful.

Love Sam xx