I shall be celebrating my second stomaversary by becoming a Dyson.
That sentence is probably meaningless to anyone who is not an ostomate – and what, prithee, is an ostomate? I hear you ask. Even my spellchecker doesn’t know the word (though that isn’t unusual; I am not impressed by my spellchecker’s vocabulary).
Put in simple English, I at last have a date for the operation to reverse my colostomy: to rejoin the two ends of my colon that were left after the diseased part was removed, and to restore its normal function (fingers crossed!). I am told by the doctor who did my pre-assessment that it’s a relatively minor operation, and nothing like the ordeal I went through two years ago when I was an emergency case and spent several hours getting sliced and spliced. Again, fingers crossed: he was a very dishy man, and I tend to trust beautiful people, which is a weakness of which I am only too aware; beauty is not always truth, whatever Keats says, but I really want to believe this.
Soon after my surgery I joined the Colostomy Association, which is a marvellous organisation, a very worthwhile charity providing immense support for its members, and working to raise awareness of the condition. It has a closed Facebook page where members can discuss all kinds of private issues, rant and rave, weep and laugh, make insider jokes and generally get all kinds of advice, sympathy and information that only fellow-ostomates can provide.
I’m giving them a plug here, because they deserve it and if you know anyone with any kind of ostomy, do pass on this URL. We have members from all over the world, although it is basically a British-based charity, catering for those with colostomies, ileostomies or urostomies, as well as their nearest and dearest. (You don’t know what those are? Look them up. Most people only hear of these when they get one.)
There is also a sister organisation for children, called the Breakaway Foundation, because contrary to popular belief it is not only elderly patients who have to undergo these procedures. There are a good many babies, children, teenagers and other young people living outwardly normal lives with this hidden condition, but – especially in the case of teenagers and young adults – sometimes suffering psychologically from “being different” as well as enduring the physical pain and discomfort from recurrent bouts of Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, Hirschsprung’s disease etc.
These are just some of the things that are far more common than we realise, and because the areas of the body affected are private, the subject is generally taboo. Nobody wants to talk about those bodily functions, and I have also noticed some friends looking squeamish at the sight of my beautifully healed scar, which is now just a faint white line.
That is my one regret, because it’s about to be re-opened and will take a while to fade again. Having received my colostomy on 4 October 2012, here I am getting it reversed on 3 October 2014, the eve of the second anniversary of the great event, known in ostomate-speak as a stomaversary. Last year I decorated my pouch with appropriate designs. This year, I will become bagless, hence the term Dyson, from the vacuum cleaner of that ilk.
My wonderful DDD deserves a tribute at this point, along with her own DDD’s and all their respective DH’s. What am I talking about now? Well, I really have to thank my Dearest Darling Daughter for leaping into action and organising herself and my granddaughters as carers, and all of them for being willing to cooperate. I wouldn’t have been able to go ahead with the reversal otherwise. It impacts on the lives of my mother, my daughter and son-in-law, my granddaughters and their Dear Husbands, as well as on my great grand children. I wonder how many other people’s surgeries directly affect five generations of a family? All I can say is, once again, thank God for mine. I am very blessed.
I’ll be back after the event with an update, but for now I’m preparing to say goodbye to Winnie-the-Pooh.
I’m bidding adieu to Winnie-the-Pooh,
My life-saving stoma, that made me pull through;
This scheduled reversal is long overdue
And I’m happy to say that I won’t miss you.
You’ve gurgled and rumbled and burped for two years,
You’ve leaked on my undies, reduced me to tears.
You’ve pancaked and dribbled, you’ve stunk like a skunk,
Made my skin sore and red with your acidic gunk.
So I’m saying goodbye, though I know you’re a blessing,
And I hope, when you’re gone and I’m left with a dressing,
That my idle intestine still knows what to do,
And works as it should without Winnie-the-Pooh.