So I guess this is where I should put a trigger warning. This blog post is going to be about my surgery and everything since.
I’m not pulling any punches here, surgery is tough. The weeks leading up to it are also tough. Nothing about it is easy. The doctors and surgeons will tell you it’s hard and they’ll tell you the risks and complications but there are lots of things that they also leave out.
So my husband and I woke up at 6:00am on the Monday morning of the 5th February. I drank my pre-surgery drinks and knew that I wouldn’t have anything to eat or drink until after the surgery. I had a little suitcase packed and we left, the sky was a navy blue and it almost felt that we were leaving for a holiday.
It was not a holiday.
After the hour trip up to London I was prepped and ready for surgery. My mum and husband waited with me and then after four hours of waiting I was told that I was ready to be taken through. I kissed Shane goodbye and made my way down the long corridor with the nurse and anaesthetist, past metal lockers and into a square room. It was the prep room. They inserted the cannula into the back of my hand and an epidural into my lower back. The last thing I remember is the oxygen mask being placed over my mouth.
When I woke up four hours later the first thought I had was THANK FUCK I’M AWAKE. Followed by an overwhelming desiring for water.
I laid in the bed after croaking at the nurse for water, and then I lifted up my hospital gown from underneath the covers to see the stitches that ran over the place where my bellybutton used to be, and to look at the brand new stoma that was now poking out from the left side of my stomach.
I felt a mixture of relief, curiosity and repulsion.
When I was more awake I was wheeled up to my ward where my Mum and husband were waiting. They sat with me for a while, and then eventually they had to go home.
The following eleven days where easily the most physically draining days of my life. It’s a strange sensation to describe and even now I struggle to put the weird new pangs and aches into words. The best way I can phrase it is that I lived through those days in hospital in a drug fuelled haze. I was in a constant, aching pain, I was almost always sweating and desperate for water, I vomited a few times and lost a fair bit of weight. Then one night I had a temperature spike that was caused by a collection of fluid that had built up where they had removed the right side of my colon. This meant that I needed a drain.
Let me tell you something about drains, they’re fine once they’re in but the whole process of having them fitted I found to be more traumatic than going in for the surgery. First they tried to lay me ON MY FRONT, which hurt so damn much that I actually let out a little scream . Then I was placed on my side, drugged up (but nowhere near enough) and then a needle was pushed inside me through my lower back, and repeatedly tugged in the strangest most horrifying sensation I have ever experienced before the tube was placed in.
So I carried around a bag of my own fluid for five days which was…surreal, to say the least.
Then, at last, the drain was removed, the stitches were pulled out from my stoma and I was sent home.
I could barely walk or stand up straight but I was sent home. Since coming back I’ve been to A&E five times. Three times because my surgical wound keeps leaking pus and isn’t healing as quickly as it should, once because my stoma decided to RETRACT, as if it was like “girl, I don’t like this so byeee.” Bitch please. And the other time was shortness of breath and they were worried I had a lung clot. (I didn’t, thank fuck.)
But, finally, five weeks into recovery, we seem to have progress. I’m so much more mobile, my stoma is protruding more nicely and the skin around it is now sealing how it should, and my wound finally seems to be closing up. So, fingers crossed.
And I mean fingers crossed because it feels that any time I have any sort of improvement something else comes along to knock me on my arse.
However, I’m not quite halfway through my recovery. I still can’t bend over, I’m not allowed to lift anything heavier than a kettle and I have the simplest diet going. On top of that I am BORED SHITLESS. I can’t go to work as I physically can’t at the moment, I’m getting no money from the government support system because apparently there’s nothing wrong with me so I’m skint to boot, up until the past few days I was so fatigued that I couldn’t properly focus on anything for longer than a few minute at a time. I’m so behind on university work that I’m kind of scared to start it, and my enthusiasm for writing my novels has dwindled to an all time low. Plus, my feelings of incarceration have driven me a little stir crazy so that I’m growing increasingly jealous of my partner for being able to actually go out and DO THINGS.
Life is very much on pause and I feel helpless because I can’t do anything about it. I can only rest and eat and wait until my body and brain feel well enough to start doing things again.
So yeah, I’m a bit frozen at the moment. But like all things, this too shall pass.
Much love as always internet,