What it was like having my stoma “reversed”
My stoma was never meant to be permanent. It was something that needed to happen in order for me to live and hate it as I did, it saved my life.
I got my little friend “Francis” during an emergency procedure that saved my life after my colon was ruptured giving birth. You see, it (my colon) had been fused to my uterus and tugging my baby out my belly had caused my uterus to rip away from my colon leaving a hole in it. A number of days later I was rushed into emergency surgery where my cavity was found to be literally filled with shit. How delightful. My colon was in such a bad state that it had to be saved by letting it rest for a few months. And so, my stoma was born.
My intestine was cut and the end was pulled through the wall of my tummy. A bag was attached over it to capture waste. So for months, I lived like that. I FUCKING HATED IT but at the same time, I was grateful. This was literally the only way I could live. I’d choose it again every time if I had to do it over. 8 months later and I am here, alive and on my road to recovery.
I’d been told I’d have my stoma for anything between 3 months and a year. I prayed that was 3 months but complication after complication meant that 3 months later, I was still having surgery for other things and a reversal was off the table.
I thought I’d die like this. For a time I thought maybe I should just keep it. After all, it had saved my life. I thought i was a better option than having yet another surgery. I met with my Doctor and discussed the upcoming reversal. He informed me that because of the nature of my surgery and also my history, it was best if I had a specialist do the operation. I didn’t want to even imagine anyone else going near me. This man kept me alive. But more than anything, I trusted his judgement and I knew that he wouldn’t be sending me to anyone but the best. So hesitantly I went to see my “new”surgeon.
He told me that the risks of the procedure included the risk of death. He told me I could live a long and happy life with my colostomy. He told me it was something I had to think about.
I told him there was nothing to think about. I was having the surgery.
A couple of days later, I was back in his room prepping for a colonoscopy. This is a delightful procedure when a camera is inserted up your rectum (and through your stoma if you have one) to look at the state of your intestines and determine if you’re suitable for a reversal. I was bloody terrified but it was over quite quickly and the great news was the he saw no reason not to go ahead.
My surgery was booked for a week later. It was the longest week of my life.
I went back and forth between crying and trying to be positive knowing I had to do this. I had to take a chance towards a normal life.
When the day finally arrived, I put on my big girl panties and went off to the hospital where they promptly gave me an enema. COME ON… more stuff up my damn bum. lol well that was pretty awful but now the waiting came.
I wasn’t allowed to eat anything before my surgery, except a light breakfast before 6 am. My surgery was scheduled for 1.30 and I was starving. The very lovely anesthetist came around to ask me a bunch of questions, do I have a history of blah blah, do I have crowns, do I think, do I that… it all started to feel real.
My Stoma Reversal
Then my surgery was moved up and at 12.30, I was being wheeled off to the theater. I kissed my mom and my husband and they took me away. I remember thinking, what if that’s the last time. What if this is it, what if I die.
I don’t know why but I was certain that I was going to die in there. I’d hugged my son to the point of smothering him. I guess I was hoping he’d somehow remember how much his mom loved him. I didn’t want to die but the truth is, 1 in 50 people having this surgery die. I didn’t want to be a part of the statistic but I had to be realistic. I thought this might be it for me.
The anesthetist made me sit on the edge of the operating table. In nothing but my green gown. That room was bloody freezing and every where I looked there were technical machines around me. I was definitely in the right place but it felt like the cockpit of a futuristic space ship. I was overwhelmed. As I sat on that table, clutching a pillow while the epidural needle went into my back, I thought of the life I’d be leaving behind and I sobbed.
I couldn’t imagine Oden growing up without a mom. Without ME, his mom. My heart ached. I sobbed. “I’m usually pretty tough” I told the Doctor, I think he thought I’m lying but I was so afraid. He was kind and gave me tissues and distracted me by telling me stories about his daughter. I lay down and I remember his face leaning over me, telling me not to worry, he’d be there the whole time. Somehow the reassurance of this man I’d just met put my heart a little at ease.
I woke up in ICU. I vaguely remember my surgeon talking to me, telling me it was a success but everything was blurred. I slept for what felt like a month.
When I woke up, I was confused and didn’t know what was going on but my mom, my step dad and my husband were there, at my bedside. Everything had gone even better than what they expected. They thought it was going to be a really tough procedure given my Endometriosis and multiple surgeries I’d had before. They had scheduled a 7 hour surgery but it was over in around 4 hours. I was free.