Well I certainly did not mean to be away for quite so long, gosh, 10 months to be exact. Though I DO have two excuses…well reasons rather than excuses. The first is called Instagram. I am sure you are familiar with it. I became slightly swayed by the quick-fire instant nature of this wonderful social networking tool and I am afraid it tempted me away from my blog here on the interwebs. I have added a little Instagram feed on the right over there, so you can see what it is I have been doing all this time. So if you're on there make sure you say hello! :)
The second reason is much less fun and frivolous and all together more serious I am afraid. I shall adopt a Serious Face and give you the story of the last 5 months. This story will be more quite wordy without much mention of fun and craft-filled times I’m afraid. But once we are done with this update I can then move on and happier topics can once again prevail. This is not an easy tale to tell, and I am going to share some pictures I haven't showed anybody yet (don't worry, nothing gory.) Right. Ready? Here we go...
You may recall, maybe, that back in the early months of last year I had begun to get ill. I have had ulcerative colitis since I was 19 and it was slowly becoming less and less controllable using conventional medicines. I had tried every form of treatment available from steroids to chemotherapy and none of it was working. My hair was falling out, my face was rounded and moon-like from the steroids, I was exhausted, depressed and unable to cope with the smallest of dramas. Then my consultant threw into the mix that if something drastic wasn’t done soon I could be looking at a perforated bowel, or cancer. I didn’t like the sound of either of those you will not be surprised to hear : /
So drastic measures were indeed taken. When I say drastic I mean Drastic with a capital D. On 29th August last year I was admitted to hospital for a "total proctocolectomy and ileoanal pouch construction". In other words my entire large intestine was removed and my small bowel reconstructed in a complicated 6-hour-surgery. I then spent 9 days horrendously ill in hospital before practically crawling out to get home to my family. For two months I had an ileostomy but it was recessed and stomach acid burnt my skin constantly. It was the most difficult time I have ever experienced and for 4 weeks I could barely even walk, let alone look after my children. There were some days when I couldn’t even summon the energy to watch television, and I certainly couldn’t crochet.
|My brand new stoma bag, given to me a few weeks before the op full of contents I couldn't coprehend.|
|The night before surgery, waiting in hospital to get hooked up to all the IVs etc.|
|The morning of the first operation, waiting to be wheeled down to theatre. My face is all poofy due to the steroids.|
|3 hours post-surgery & out of it on large doses of morphine. Hooked up to several monitors and tubes & a morphine pump.|
On 24th October I went back to hospital for a second surgery, this time it was to remove the ileostomy and re-attach my small intestine so that I could start using my new “j-pouch”. It’s complicated but essentially my small bowel has been reconstructed to take over the job of the large intestine. This time I was in for a week, it wasn’t easy but it was a lot easier than the first surgery. Once home I could then properly start to recover and get used to my new internal plumbing.
|1 hour after the 2nd surgery and NO morphine this time! :)|
That was almost 3 months ago now. It is still early days and I am still adjusting to the new way my body works. But I take no medications, I can eat most foods and I am NOT SICK. It’s all rather strange, and actually despite the whole thing at the time seeming agonisingly slow it was really all rather quick and I sometimes have to stop and take a breath when I think about all that has happened to me. Life has changed dramatically, but I think it has changed for the better. So far so good.
That should of course be the end of the story, but it’s not. I had 7 months off work to cope with my illness then undergo the two surgeries and subsequent recoveries. I returned to work two and half weeks ago and on Tuesday last week I was told I would no longer have a job. My post is to be “deleted” and I am now in a 30 day consultation period before either redeployment or redundancy (I work for a charity and any redundancy will be statutory so this is not an opportunity to rake in a lovely big severance package believe me!)
So that about catches us up. Sickness, surgery, sickness, surgery, miraculous recovery, new start, redundancy...the rest is yet to come and I have no idea what the future will hold. But I do know one thing - I have the energy, the strength and the emotional capacity to handle it. Oh, and there will be crochet :)