Here I am 4 weeks post surgery!
When I think about all the crap I put up with before I was rescued from a colon that waged war upon me in comparison to ostomy life, it’s ridiculous! I keep asking myself ”what the hell was I doing?!” and ”how did I let myself get so ill?!” Since surgery I’ve been able to do more than I ever could with colitis: No more going to the loo 20+ times a day or scrubbing the bathroom at 3am, my loo roll consumption has halved and I actually sleep through the night – no longer waking up drenched in a cold sweat. I’ve realised just how awful drug therapy can be because since I stopped taking Methotrexate and Infliximab not only is my hair is growing back so fast I might actually need a haircut, but my body just seems so much happier. I’ve been eating mum out of house and home, I’m putting weight on and keeping it, and now I don’t have anaemia I can actually walk.
The bag has given me the joy of going to the pub for lunch and instead of thinking ‘’how much is this going to hurt me?’’, it was more like ‘’if I have pizza is it greedy to have chips and maybe desert too?’’. I can see the old me coming back – the pre-colitis Billie – I’ve pretty much forgotten what the pain of UC feels like!
It hasn’t been all sunshine and rainbows… I’ve had a few hiccups. Some almost bag leaks that I was lucky to catch (one of the benefits of being super paranoid!) and a surgical point that has turned into Rosie and Jim’s annoying third wheel; meaning lots more hospital time… However the first major hurdle was my first bag change: I was standing in the bathroom staring at all my stuff, going over and over each step, hoping I didn’t fuck it up! And there it was, my intestine… Hanging… Out of my stomach… Like a little worm… So freaking weird… My whole body was shaking uncontrollably and to be honest I was shit scared. It may have taken me two hours to shower and change Rosie/Jim but I did it, without any help and I left the bathroom just as clean as when I went it! As the days go on I’m becoming more accustomed to the fact I have to stare at my small intestine every morning; now it only takes me 30mins as opposed to 2 hours (thank god I have nothing to do other than sit on the sofa).
But seeing a gaping wound and worm-like intestine on my stomach has taken some getting used to… I’d be lying if I said it’s been easy. It almost feels like I’ve got to get used to an entirely new body and at first I did look in the mirror and question it all; asking myself if this was the right thing to do (not that I had any choice – the bloody colon almost burst inside me) and if I’ll ever truly love my new stomach the way I could my old one. Obviously I will always have a bag on…unless I want to sit in puddle of poo… And nobody wants that!
But its getting used to my insides on the outside… They’re called insides for a reason… So it has been all very scary. But I’m a firm believer in loving the skin you’re in and I can look at the bag and see a little life saver – Rosie reminds me of the happiness in eating real cheese instead of the plastic, cardboard tasting dairy free crap (they say it tastes the same but they’re liars!). She reminds me of the pain I went through with that damn colon and of the joy of just being able to sit and relax in the Billie shaped hole I’ve made in the sofa. It has become more normal and I can look at myself without the bags on now without freaking out! I’m proud of what I look like and what I’ve been through and I’m determined to continue to flood you all with as much of this as possible to show that you can be body positive with a stoma bag at 21!
If there’s one thing I can take from this, something I’ve learnt from being terribly unwell and having major surgery, it’s you have nothing without your health. For me being healthy meant a sub-total colectomy to remove a colon that nearly burst. Being healthy is the sheer joy of eating whatever I want! Being healthy is having a full head of hair, being nearly drug free and being able to look in the mirror and see a smile rather than exhaustion. Being healthy means having my intestine poking through my stomach and shitting into a bag.
Every photograph that is on this post with a smile in it is genuine for the first time in 2 years! And I think that just sums up everything I’ve written! So here’s to being Colon-less! And healthy without the body-part that sucked all the joy out my life.