I'm writing this Blog as much for my own good as anything else (it helps me process what has happened/is happening) and I publish to prevent me having to bore people with my stories (if they are curious, I can point them here) and to psychologically ghettoise this part of my life because I don't want this operation to be what defines me.
If it helps others impacted by similar circumstances then all the better; I know personally I found web researching actual patients blogs and testimonies really helped me in advance of my op.
Its in the context of others reading this who may be contemplating similar surgery that I want to make a very clear HEALTH WARNING: all did not go smoothly for me and I want to share that; but please don't let the negatives of my experience affect your personal judgements. I would hate to think that someone delayed or deferred treatment because they were put off by what they read here -- my over-riding feeling (writing this 10 days after the initial op) is relief that I did get the operation done.
Writing this 10 days after the intial op so will break-down the journey as best I remember.
Tuesday 15th June
I was admitted at 9am and went in to surgery at 3pm. This is, there are no two ways about it, a major surgery. The sheer mass of stuff being removed and the extensiveness of where they need to reach is quite mind boggling.
The surgery was expected to be about 3 hours but when they got me open I was more delicate inside than expected (all the more reason for doing this surgery now of course, so actually good news in a strange way) and the surgeon tells me had to take it slowly (lots of delicate tissue, blleeding etc).
From the discussion with the surgeon I guess it's all very 'organic' in there compared to how my rather organised brain would like things to be -- they are snipping and releasing things all over the place to get things free ... and the formation of the pouch must be a very fiddly bit of needlework.
Maybe in part because longer than expected, maybe because of my unexpectedly delicate internal state, maybe just unlucky ... but in recovery there were some major pain 'issues'. I recall a lot os swearing and apologising but am assurrred it was mainly just moaning. It took a while to get me stabilised such that I was over 6 hours in theatre in the end.
Next c.24 hours in HDU (High Dependency Unit) are a little hazy but Jane was there for some of that and I have since spoken at length with the Sister who cared for me. The morphine / paracetemol etc. wasn't keeping pace with the pain and my oxygen absorbtion was falling so they had to withdraw the morphine ... and the anaesthetist was called. After some debate I was given an additional muscle relaxant (potentially a bad idea because of being on steroids) and that had an almost instant beneficial impact and helped me get through the night.
Wednesday 16th June - Monday 21st June
Things were then largey as expected and straightforward. I got out of HDU and back to my room to begin recuperation. Oxygen, drips as you would expect plus urine catheter and a drain taking fluid directly from the Stoma site into a bottle (so they can observe the fluids being produced and by implication judge the healing process).
The main incision wound is pretty agricultural -- a vertical slice running down from just above my belly button for 8-10 inches and stapled together with (and I'm pretty sure about this) standard 20mm galvanised fencing staples. OK, maybe they are surgical staples; about 25 of them at last count.
The Stoma just is what it is. It doesn't really bother me as I know it is a transitional solution; but if I later discovered that I woud have to deal with a Stoma long term I know it would be fine. Like most things in life, you learn to adapt -- I know I would still be able to go on long bike rides and hill walks, I would be able to run and swim, I would be able to sit and enjoy the company of friends. And yes, I would be able to have intimate pleasures too.
By Sunday I was on top form: all tubes were out, I was mobile, washing myself and wondering why I would need to be in for 10 days.
Then on Monday evening things started to go rapidly downhill and it became clear something was wrong (even telling myself to 'buck-up' didnt' work, and it normally does). I was suffering increasing pain and soreness all around my stoma site, across my stomach, in to my groin. From here I have really had to piece together what happened from others and my own very hzy memories: next blog post!