Friday, November 20, 2009

Ostomy & me

Sometimes I think I don’t blog enough about being an ostomate. This might be because I know I’m not going to be one forever. To use a footballing analogy, I feel like I’m only on loan to the ostomates. And early next year when I have my reversal I’ll go back to being just a UC person. Or if I can emulate Guy Cohen, I might even be a regular healthy person. Who knows? But right now I am a fully-fledged, colostomy bag-wearing ostomate with ulcerative colitis. I should probably talk about it more.

It was only eight months ago that I was totally floored by the flare-up that was to lead to me becoming an ostomate. I wasn’t able to go to work. I could barely get to the shops and back without having an accident. And I was often waking up three or four times during the night to go to the toilet. It was physically and mentally draining. I was also hospitalised a couple of times, but no amount of medication made a difference. Surgery started to look like the only way out. I wasn’t exactly mad about the idea of having a colostomy bag, but nor was I in love with remaining in the grip of a flare-up indefinitely. Plus I needed to get back to work. I’ve got a mortgage and bills to pay. Having the op meant if all went well I would be back at work in a month. That was the deal on the table. I took it.

Since my operation on 27th February I haven’t looked back. There were a few niggles in the early days, which I wrote about at the time, but eight months on and I’m in a very good place. Becoming an ostomate really, really isn’t the end of the world. Without wishing to sound too dramatic, the operation gave me my life back. I’ve worked solidly since the end of March. Most evenings I walk half of the way home to either Liverpool Street Station, which is 2.7 miles or Highbury & Islington Station, which is 2.8 miles. In August Elisabeth and myself completed a 12 mile hike in the Lake District. Neither of us had ever walked that far in our lives before. I fly regularly back and forth to Germany. And recently I went up in a hot air balloon, which given its lack of onboard toilet facilities would have been an absolute no-no before. Having a colostomy bag doesn’t stop me doing anything. These days if I get exhausted it’s because I’ve walked from Oxford Circus to Walthamstow or I’ve gone nuts to Eye of the Tiger one too many times.

And if for some reason I couldn’t have my reversal in the new year and I was an ostomate for life, I could live with that. No problem.

On my recent balloon trip the nearest loo was only 30 metres away - straight down.