Sunday, 15 May 2011

The Last Post

Just under a year since my initial op (proctocolectomy to remove my colon) and just over 7 months after my final op (re-plumbing me internally so that I was rid of the colostomy bag) and I think I am now ready to make my last post to this blog and draw a line under this whole experience. A damn good feeling.

When the initial operation was scheduled I targeted today as the point by which I expected to be 'officially better' by planning to ride the "Etape Caledonia" (an 81 mile cycling sportive in Perth). My surgeon (who rides the event every year) was wary of this plan and when everything went pear-shaped after the first op (see posts passim) it did seem a rather optimistic objective. In fact, if you will forgive the melodramatic tone, there was a period where the idea of riding at all seemed unlikely.

But everything has gone very smoothly in the last few months: I am fit and healthy, I have recovered my old energy levels, I'm working at 100%, and I have regained all the weight I lost.  I passed a significant hurdle a couple of weeks back when I made a business trip to China and coped with the stresses of long-haul and internal Chinese travel.

But cycling has been my key recovery benchmark.  In February Jane and I had a trip to Lanzarote and I started trying to ride my bike properly.  Subsequent lapses in my training discipline were duly punished a couple of weeks ago - over the course of a long weekend -  as I was dragged around some North Yorkshire rides by my mates Chris, Matt, Dave and Naythan.  It was a sobering experience but just what I needed to shock me in to shape -- I'm very grateful to the lads for their support and patience as they waited while I grovelled up the climbs!

So today I rode the Etape Caledonia:  81 miles in 4 hours 11 mins (i.e. a 19.4mph average).  Nothing spectacular (and I cringe thinking of my serious cycling mates reading this) but above my expectation and I'm calling it as "a respectable performance".

So that's it. This blog has served it's purpose for me by allowing me to off-load my introspective angst, indulge my moments of self-pity and keep my friends up-to-date with progress in a hopefully unobtrusive way. I'm delighted (and slightly emotional to be honest) to be able to make this my last post and move on. Today's ride feels like a fitting full-stop to this chapter in my life.

For those reading this blog because they or someone close to them face the same proctocolectomy / Ileul Pouch procedure I can honestly say (despite all the problems I incurred and the physical and emotional scars I bear) that I do not for one moment regret the decision to have the op and it has changed my life for the better.



Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Living Life :Free (8 months on)

Thought I should update the blog as its been a while and a few people have asked how I'm getting on.

Simple answer?  All is going very well.  I'm currently coming to the end of a 2 week break in Lanzarote, my first proper :free holiday.

I've been pondering the correct syntax for describing my new status.  Wondered about P.C. (Post Colon) but I've decided to plump for ":free" -- rather like the kind of code-writer, Java-script feel to it.

So, my :free life.

Although the nights are still a little disturbed I'm basically back to normal (and am assured the nights will get better, as they slowly are doing). I'm working full-time again, whilst trying to keep those promises-made-to-self  in the darker moments to not let work 'take over' from living life to the full.

Current break in Lanzarote has seen me able to do some proper bike-riding at last.  260 windy hilly miles, albeit spread over nearly 2 weeks and at a very slow pace.  Plenty of people around me reminding me to take it easy, pace myself back to fitness, steady miles, build the base ... all good advice and I am taking it. Speed will come later. Probably. Worth remembering too that I was never a big cyclist; riding my bike properly again has simply become a psychologically important hurdle, a way of proving to myself that I have properly recovered.

So that's it I guess.  For anybody reading this facing similar surgery I can honestly say, despite the significant complications I suffered, I'm delighted I had the op.  I am no longer dependent on steroids to function and I am able to enjoy getting fitter and stronger every day (rather than slowly getting worse, as I was).

* "Introspective, Cliche-ridden Bit" Alert *
I guess in a strange way I am lucky to have come through two life-changing health problems (Lymphoma/Chemotherapy and Colitis/Colonectomy) and be fighting fit the other side of it all.  I've had plenty (possibly too much) time to contemplate my life and am lucky enough to have the opportunity to keep those promises-made-to-self when I have been down.  So carpe diem, smell the roses, live life to the full, enjoy life's little pleasures, don't sweat the small stuff .... and never, ever forget that (like me) Life's Too Short. Life's too short for bitterness, too short for loyalty cards, too short to 'play it safe', too short for worrying, too short to count the change, too short for pretty much everything except just getting on and doing stuff, now.

On which note, I'm off to do some stuff. Now.