Mentally, physically, emotionally how do I prepare for surgery? – doubt creeps in


On Tuesday I had my pre assessment to remove the last of my inflamed colon and make me and my stoma inseparable forever.

not my surgeon but an internet pic

not my surgeon but an internet pic

If I’m honest I’m not sure how I’m feeling. Last time I didn’t have to go through all of this waiting and worrying. I feel a bit like I’m awaiting sentencing for some sort of crime. Almost like being bailed by police and awaiting my day in court. I can’t stop thinking about what will happen on the dreaded day and the horrific recovery time following me waking up in that horrible hospital bed.

Let me clarify…I don’t think having an ostomy bag is comparable to serving a prison sentence, but from my experience the recovery period can be hellish, mind numbing and frustrating.

I’m feeling torn. I can’t wait for life without the constant pain of IBD – the blood, fatigue, sleepless nights and none stop illness – and I can’t wait to be rid of my leaking fistula, but in the same breath I’m apprehensive about life following my operation, frightened of the operation, waking up hooked up to monitors and machines, and even life never being free from my bag.

I left the hospital on Tuesday, not feeling reassured or positive, but feeling confused and slightly angry. While I was there, sat on my own, I was treated with and witnessed the normal incompetence you hope not to see in the people who you are entrusting with your life. If I wasn’t so confident in my surgeon I would have run out of there screaming, cancelled my operation and jumped on the next plane abroad so they could track me down. I was directed to departments I didn’t need to visit, taken for a blood test with a non nurse who dropped things on the floor before trying to put them in my arm, and then proceeded to put my extracted blood on top of a warm radiator – hmm I’m no medic but even I know that isn’t how it’s done!

Two and a half hours after walking nervously into the hospital I left to head back to my normal working day. I felt well and truly messed around, emotional and unsure. It took all my will power not to turn around, walk back to the desk and tell them I no longer wanted the op. Instead I composed myself and attempted to pull myself together enough to drive to Crown Court to get on with my job, shockingly enough I found it difficult to function for the rest of the day.

Tuesday was the first time I really started to doubt I’d made the right decision about having my ostomy permanently. Now I’m worried that I’m getting cold feet. I’m sure it’s just nerves talking but I’m really starting to wonder if I will regret my decision in years to come. I know my health really must come first, and I know it’s fear talking, but there are real issues which are playing on my mind. What if I come to hate my body; what if the scars are ridiculous; what if the fistula doesn’t go away despite the operation; what if I lose my confidence; what if something goes wrong and I end up unable to have children? I just don’t feel like these questions have been addressed.

Instead one thing stuck in my mind – it was something the nurse dealing with me said when I asked to speak to the colorectal specialist nurse to get some of these questions answered. She said: “she is currently dealing with someone who is having a serious operation” – then realised what she’d implied and made matters worse by saying “not that yours isn’t serious dear”.

Having my ostomy on a temporary basis has been fine. But I worry perhaps I have coped so well because there was always the tiniest option one day I might live life without a bag, if I have this operation that slight chance will be gone forever.

But now I’m used to Winnie and I’ve embraced her it would be silly to have her reversed, knowing that one day I would have to go under the knife yet again to get her permanently. If I don’t do this now I’m just delaying the inevitable.

I guess what I need is some advice. I need to know how to prepare myself for this massive thing I’m about to face. What should I do to get ready for my operation, mentally, physically and emotionally. Last time I was an emergency, there was nothing I could do but hope and pray, this time I have just over a month, yes a month packed with a trip to the Mirror and other exciting things, but a month to worry myself sick no less.

Please if you have any advice let me know, things to ease recovery, make me smile when I wake up and things to look forward to. I’m not going to live like a nun in the weeks before my operation, I want to calm down but still see friends and enjoy life – after all there will be months of sitting around bored shitless afterwards.

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