I will be thinking of you as you head to surgery tomorrow. I was worried the day before too! And I hated the prep... though it was not nearly as bad as preps I had done before when I was already in pain and in a flare. I loved knowing that it would be my last one ever!
As the time of surgery got closer and closer, a peaceful feeling came over me. I knew I had put a lot of research into my decision, loved the surgeon I had been referred to, and knew that the alternatives to surgery-- being sick with UC or living with the painful side effects of the drugs-- were not acceptable to me. Still, the drive to the hospital was strange... I was actually a little excited that I had finally reached this moment after all the anxiety of making the decision and the hard times of being sick. However, my stomach was also full of butterflies. I knew there was so much new territory ahead! Each minute on the clock that passed, each mile we drove, each step up to the hospital door got me closer and closer to the unknown. But once I got into pre-op, I began to feel a lot more confident again. The hospital staff was so wonderful. The pre-op nurses got me all ready... did the necessary blood tests, set up the IV etc. The anesthesiologist came and talked to me and she was incredibly caring and nice (she even visited me in my room two days after the operation!). Another surgeon came in (who would be assisting my surgeon with the procedure) and discussed the operation with me. He was great too. Finally, my main surgeon came and sad at my bedside and answered all my last minute questions. He was amazingly compassionate, and I silently thanked my GI in my head for referring me to him. He really settled my nerves and as we were chatting, this beautiful feeling of peace came over me. I knew that I trusted these folks. They were there to help me through this and I had the ultimate confidence in them. With that, I finally relaxed and completely surrendered to the experience. I gave my husband one last hug and kiss and knowing that he would be out in the waiting room the whole time comforted me. The anesthesiologist gave me some meds to relax me even more, and then I was wheeled down the hall to the operating room. That is the last thing I remember before waking up again in post-op after the surgery. There I was pretty groggy. I believe the staff came and talked to me, but I actually can't remember much. Once I woke up and became more alert, I finally was taken up to my room. My husband met me there and told me how my operation went as he could actually remember talking to the surgeon afterwards:) My surgeon also came in a few hours later to talk. Everything went smoothly with my surgery except that they couldn't get the epidural that they had hoped to use to take, and had abandoned the attempt in favor of other pain control options.
When I first saw my stoma, it was kinda surreal but I definitely did not have an aversion too it. I actually approached it pretty logically. I had thought about the surgery a lot, knew that it was coming and was actually relieved that it looked like a nice, healthy stoma (from what I could tell through the clear pouch:). In some ways, I had trouble even focusing on it as it was sort of mixed in with all these other crazy things on my belly... bandages and staples down my stomach, tubes coming out of my abdomen and a catheter. The stoma also wasn't doing much at first. After a day or so, I looked at it more and more and became quite curious about the new addition to my body. It wiggled and made noises and started to create output perfectly which allowed me to eat. At first the nurses were emptying my pouch, but after a few times I began to do it myself and found that, with a little practice, it was easy. Finally, the ET nurse came to teach me how to change the pouch. We took it off and I finally got to see my stoma up close. It was fairly large from the swelling, but looked great. The next three nights, the nurse came up and I practiced doing my pouch on my own. And then it was time to go home.
I get more and more used to my stoma every day. Sometimes I still think "Wow! My intestine is sticking out of my belly!" But I think it is pretty cool and am amazed at how it has given me my life back.
Good luck with your surgery. You will do great and I look forward to hearing how it goes!
-Officially diagnosed with UC in 2006, though had symptoms since 1999.
-Had mild/moderate symptoms continuously until severe flare in autumn 2010 which required 2-week hospital stay
-Took Asacol, Rowasa, Canasa and Prednisone to manage flares but meds stopped working
-Tried 1 infusion of Remicade but had excruciating joint pain and discontinued
-Had permanent ileostomy surgery 11/8/2010