I got my little stoma friend “Francis” during an emergency procedure because my colon ruptured while giving birth. You see, my colon became fused to my uterus during pregnancy, so after pushing my baby out it caused my colon to rip from my uterus leaving a hole in it. Several days after my son was born, I was rushed back to the hospital for emergency surgery since my cavity was literally filling up with fecal waste. My colon was in such bad shape that it had to heal and rest for a few months, and so, my temporary stoma was born. The colostomy 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.
During the operation, surgeons cut my large intestine brought the end out through a hole in my tummy where I'd have to wear a colostomy bag over the stoma to collect waste. For months I lived like that. I HATED it. But at the same time, I was grateful. This was literally the only way to save my life and I’d choose it again if I had to. So, eight months later here I am… alive and on my road to recovery.
For a time I thought maybe I should just keep the colostomy, after all, it did save my life. I thought it was a better option than having yet another surgery to reverse the stoma and reconnect my large intestine. I met with my doctor and discussed the upcoming procedure and he informed me that due to the nature of the operation, it was best to have a colorectal specialist perform the surgery. I didn’t want to imagine anyone else going near me — this man kept me alive. But more than anything, I trusted his judgment and knew that he'd refer me to the best. Hesitantly, I went to see another surgeon who told me the risks of the procedure included 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 definitely having my stoma reversed. My surgery was booked a week later and it was the longest week of my life. I went back and forth between crying and trying to be positive knowing that I had chosen to do this.
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. That was pretty awful. Now the waiting game. I wasn’t allowed to eat anything before my surgery, except a light breakfast before 6am. My surgery was scheduled for 1:30pm so I was starving. A very lovely anesthetist came around to ask me a bunch of questions; do I have a history of blah blah, do I have crowns, this and that… it all started to feel real. Then my surgery was moved up an hour and suddenly I was being wheeled off to the theater. I kissed my mom and my husband. I remember thinking... What if that’s the last time? What if this is it? What if I die? I hugged my son Oden 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. I read somewhere that about 1 in 50 people who get this type of operation don't make it. I feared to be part of the statistic. I couldn’t imagine Oden growing up without a mom. My heart ached. I sobbed. “I’m usually pretty tough,” I told the doctor. He was kind and gave me tissues and distracted me by telling me stories about his daughter.
The anesthetist made me sit on the edge of the operating table. In nothing but my green gown. That room was bloody freezing and everywhere 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 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. My mom, stepdad, and my husband were there at my bedside. Everything had gone even better than 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 four hours. I was free.
Article credit: Tyranny of Pink