The morning of major, life changing surgery

journalI was going through my journal the other day. I came across these scrambled thoughts scribbled down on the morning of 24th September 2013 – the day I was going in for my permanent ostomy surgery. This was where my head was at literally hours before leaving for the hospital that morning.

So in a few hours I’m heading back to the hospital. My home away from home. This time tomorrow, I’ll be large intestine, rectum, anus and inflammation free, and well on my way to being a much healthier and happier Laura again. So will begin a new chapter.

It’s all happened so quickly in one way, yet it’s also been a long time coming. It was only a week ago, sitting in the surgeon’s office, that I made the decision (on mum’s birthday of all days – happy birthday mum!). I think mum and Michael were quite surprised when I suddenly said to book me in for next week’s surgery list, but really it wasn’t that sudden. It’s something I’ve been thinking and contemplating for a while now, and once I’d made up my mind, there was no point delaying it any longer.

Don’t get me wrong, it was not an easy decision, and even since making it, there have still been times where I’ve questioned if I’m doing the right thing. Is there anything else I can try before taking this final, drastic move? There’s no turning back after this. It’s the last straw. It’s final. Have I fought long and hard enough?

The answer is yes. My mind and body are both telling me that it’s time. I know what I’m in for. I’ve had the bonus of seeing what it’s like living with a temporary loop ileostomy for the last 4 months, so I know what life with a bag is like, and I can handle that. It’s got to be better than the alternative. Of course the recovery will take some time, but based on everything that my doctors have said, and from speaking to other people who have had the same surgery, things can only get better from here, and my quality of life will improve. I don’t have to worry about the horrible long-term side effects of steroids and other medication, or other potential complications or worse, and we can start living life to the fullest again!

Of course I am scared and anxious. Hell, when I wake up from surgery tonight, I won’t have some pretty major body parts any more. I am scared of the surgery, and even of the outcome, but I have to remain positive in knowing it is the right thing. I’ve been tough, and fought and gotten through a lot of crap (literally) the last few years. I can do this!!! It’s the best thing for me and after today I can close the chapter on the last few years of pain, anxiety and restrictions, and start looking forward. Onward and upward.

I also want to note down how overwhelmed I’ve felt from all the love, care and support from my friends and family. I am truly blessed to have such amazing people in my life, and I don’t think I could do this without them. My dad’s heartfelt email from across the seas in France. My dad who is not a writer or a man of many words, but who touched me greatly with his deep care and emotions. Helen at work who sprinkled holy water on me yesterday before leaving. All the texts and messages from friends wishing me well and sending me positive vibes. The phone call from my sister who said she didn’t really know what to say. She doesn’t have to say anything. Just being there are knowing how much she cares means the world to me. Mikey and mum who I know will both be right there next to me when they wheel me off in a few hours, and right there waiting for me when I get back from recovery. It’s probably even harder for them than me. People telling me how strong I am – it tears at my heart. I don’t want to be strong anymore, I just want to be better.

I felt it was important to write something down this morning. To try and describe how I am feeling. My mind is a bit of a blur as I haven’t had a lot of sleep the last few days, so I’m unsure how articulate any of this is coming out, but I need to acknowledge that THIS IS A BIG DEAL. I have every right to be having these emotional feelings, and I want to remember these thoughts as best I can. I know how quickly thoughts and feelings can change from day to day within the uncertainties of life, but the bottom line is that I have put up with feeling sick all the time, and the roller coaster of ups and downs for long enough now.

Here is to a new beginning. I am in good hands, and I can’t wait to feel well and semi normal (as normal as I can be!) again. Please, let this be the right thing. Please let me have my life back. Positive energy, positive thoughts, positive vibes. See you on the other side!

Even (or should I say especially?) on the morning of surgery I still sound so hesitant and unsure, but I would not have gone ahead with the surgery if I didn’t feel it was the right thing to do. 2+ years on, it was definitely the best decision I could have made. So much has happened since that morning, and I don’t regret my decision for a minute, not one little bit.

7 thoughts on “The morning of major, life changing surgery

  1. Even though I now hardly give your illness a thought anymore, I can’t read this, or even think about that day and the days leading up to it, without becoming emotional and teary – teary because of the way I felt that day and the emotions that come flooding back and teary because of the joy I feel about the way things are now. It was SO much “the right thing” – you have your life back and then some – life with an ostomy does not seem to restrict you in any way whatsoever and you are well, “large intestine, rectum, anus and inflammation free!” INFLAMMATION FREE! What could be better? Yes it certainly was “a big deal” but it was the best possible “deal” ever! So eternally grateful to everyone involved and so proud of my beautiful, wonderful daughter.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Laura,

    Thanks for your post! What a great insight into your head and heart on a day that some people would just want to crumble. I like the fact that its a “real” account and you seem to be a little on the fence, because let’s face it, you’re about to enter uncharted territory. If I was reading this before my surgery I would take comfort in knowing that some things were left to the Gods in a way and that you personally felt hopeful, yet nervous.

    I remember the morning of my surgery so vividly. I was soooo sick. I had spent weeks in hospital with nothing working to make me better. I’d just lived through two days with a perforated bowel (which wasn’t picked up until after my surgery, so I was lucky not to be dead!) and had just had two blood transfusions to try and prepare and restore my body in prep for major surgery. While I had not made the conscious and willing decision to have my sub-total collectomy, I was ready. I was ready because I remember feeling like I was dying when my bowel perforated two nights before, and thinking that I didn’t want this “to be it”.

    I remember the doctors offering me Valium on the morning of my surgery (partly because I’d been the worlds worst patient and they didn’t want my alter-ego “Mega Bitch Bec” to come out on the operating table) but I refused it. Why? Well, I think wanted to remember it. I wanted it to feel real and I didn’t want to be so zoned-out that I might have been the only one in the room who didn’t get how “real”, and like you said, how much of a “big deal” this was.

    I was calm and considered and I was articulate about my feelings; and that this was the only thing that would save my life.

    Like I’ve shared with you Laura, my favourite movie quote from the Shawshank Redemption : “Get busy living or get busy dying”, and I’m glad I chose to live.

    Thanks for sharing Laura 🙂

    Bec x

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hey Bec!

      I was well and truly on the fence when going in that morning, but somehow still managed to stay positive 🙂 I was very lucky that I had the time and option to prepare myself for surgery and as I have always said, I think this made a big difference for me. I know so many others do not have that choice, and having emergency surgery is a whole other ball game!

      I cannot imagine what the pain of a perforated bowel must have felt like. I’m lucky I had mine removed before it had the chance to perforate! It sounds like you are incredibly lucky to have pulled through the way you did. I think it’s very brave for you to have turned down the valium too. Many people wouldn’t. I completely understand why you did though.

      It’s such a great movie quote Bec – I love it and I hope you don’t mind if I share it on Stoma-licious one day soon. I am glad you chose to live too 🙂 Thank you for sharing your feelings and story 🙂


  3. from the man of few words,

    you have a great writing talent laura !!
    Your post must be a very positive piece of writing for someone in the same situation you were in then.!!

    Dad XXX

    Liked by 2 people

  4. This is really relieving to me. I had my permanent ostomy surgery a month ago and everyday I question if it was the right thing to do, if I had any other choice would I have taken it. This gives my hope that I’m not alone in feeling this way and that it gets better. It must have been nice for you to do like a ‘trial run’ with your ostomy:)

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’m not sure if that question will ever go away, but it certainly has lessened for me, and I think about it far less often than I used to. It’s a completely normal and logical feeling to have, and you are definitely not alone 🙂 I was fortunate to have had the temporary loop ileostomy so knew what living with an ostomy was like, but making it permanent was still a big decision! I hope you are doing well post surgery and all the best for your recovery 🙂


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