My medical team and I tried everything. The usual and the peculiar. Everything from pharmaceutical medications to natural acupuncture. We prayed. We cried. We laughed. We mourned. We did all of this because over a year ago I was hospitalized due to another organ failing my body. We realized that this beast of an illness spares nothing. When my colon shut down we were told months later at CHW my only option at avoiding the complications was to have an ileostomy performed. I won’t ever forget breaking down in tears when I heard those words. I wanted to fight and beat it. I didn’t want another bag and whole in my body. I wanted to make at least one of my three failing intestinal organs work. So that led to us trying everything… as the following summer months passed by we watched in terror as my colon further shut down.
In September my body was bent over with pain. I had a swollen belly so large I had to avoid anything with buttons. After a long phone conversation with my GI team I was then admitted during the weekend. We waited those two days for my surgeon to come back, and then I was whisked back to the OR on September 12, 2016. After three hours I came out a different person physically than before. I had gotten an ileostomy. I remember crying and dry heaving as I would look at my new appliances. I didn’t want to be weak, but how can one not mourn when they see their body be morphed? As I began to care for this new step in life I battled so many emotions. I was not alone though. I had nurses and doctors that guided me through each step… teaching me to play music when changing appliances, peppermint oil when I was stressed, and simply breathing.
My family and friends coaxed me through it all. And I healed. I learned how to move on with my head held high. I was able to drive home from that hospital stay, due to the fact I was off of the narcotics I needed pre-ostomy. Was I cured? No. I was just given a bandaid. One of the three intestines was pushed out of the game. The goal was to have no distention, be able to tolerate feeds, and possible get all of my nutrition orally. We didn’t know what was to come, but I knew I would be thankful for whatever would occur.
Today I battle a distended belly that wakes me up with pain. I have to make myself drink 2 ensures a day as I am off of TPN for a while to give my liver and fluid loaded body a break (while maintaining a bit of nutrition). I am still unable to eat meals and enjoy all of the rich flavors. But I am here. I made it out of this without having a perforated colon. Without invasive procedures. And I am so grateful and humble for the team of surgeons and doctors that work each day to help me.
My ileostomy saved my life. How could I not be more than grateful for it? So thank you. Thank you nurses, doctors, anesthesiologists, surgeons, residents, fellows, NAs, family, friends, followers, and more. Thank you to my family and friends for holding me up as I cried over the changes. Thank you to the fellow motility Momma Bears that helped me. We made it. WE did it! Here’s to 6 months of embracing the fact I have an ileostomy. And here’s to the beautiful and crazy road I have ahead of me, because I am so ready to tackle and enjoy what is yet to come.