In September 2003 I was finally admitted into the Western General Hospital to have my Ileoanal pouch created. This was the first time in my life I have been admitted into any hospital and was quite a strange experience.
A week before being admitted I had to go for a health check, to make sure I was able to survive the operation and if there were any complication. The doctors wanted to make sure there were no other issues they had to deal with, apart from removing the colon and pouch construction.
I was fine until I had my heart checked. They found my left bottom chamber was thicker due to the Steroids but not life threatening, it was something else now to be monitor.
When the time came for the operation I had to come the day before surgery. During this time I saw many people and must admit not too sure what half of them did. They asked me questions and I signed forms, giving my consent to the operation. I was visited by two stoma nurses in case the Ileo-anal pouch wouldn’t work. I would then have to have a stoma and they spent an hour with me going through bags and stuff, so I was aware of what to expect if I had one when I woke up.
I didn’t sleep that night. A lady died opposite me and I had my first ever experience of death. I was wanting my Mum so much but she was still in Barrow. She had the flu with my Dad was unable to travel.
The morning of the operation I felt calm, why I don’t know but people came and went all morning. Checking up on me, getting me to sign forms. I was the youngest on the ward and many of the patients mothered me and made me feel OK. I wasn’t alone and I saw a girl about the same age as me being wheeled off to the operating room. Prof Dunlop came in and told me she was going through the same operation, after hers he’ll come and I will have mine.
I sat on my bed until 12.30pm. I was given some premeds to help me relax and then it started. People began moving my stuff, a trolley was wheeled in and two burly porters lifted me out of bed onto the trolley. Remember I was a size 20 and round about 18 Stone from the Steroids. They needed to be burly!!!
I went to the operating theatre and waited in a small reception area. I was given two wrist bands, one on each arm. I was talked through my procedure and finally signed another form for the operation. I went to another room where I was given an injection, had a mask placed over my face and went to sleep.
I woke up to a voice calling my name. I asked was it alright. The nurse told me it was successful and I went back to sleep.
The next time I woke up was in the HDU. There was a bright light shining in my face and people running around me. I was naked with tubes all over the place. I opened my eyes and there were two friends from university standing next to me. They were shocked and looked like they were crying. I smiled and waved to them. I remember saying “it’s OK – I’ll be better now!” Steven was sitting down as he was shocked at what happened to me.
For the next 24 hours I only remember morphine drips and buzzers going off. Every now and then I would wake up with pain, but a quick shot of morphine and I would be back asleep.
The nurses decided to get me up and lifted me up for a bed bath. Funny how you just let people do what they want when you’re high as a kite on morphine. I didn’t care any more, just do what you have to do, was my feeling.
After a day in the HDU, I was taken down to the ward and was surrounded by strangers again. My bed was by the door and I had a window to my left. Here I would watch folk walk up and down the corridor all day, wishing I was able to do the same. I wasn’t allowed any food or drink for the first 24 hrs I was there.
The next day I had a sponge thing which I dipped into water and was allowed to wipe in the inside of my mouth. I carried on with the morphine drip but the nurses reduced my dose every few hours. I noticed my urine bag was filling up but not the bag that was attached to my pouch. I didn’t think anything of it, what did I know!!
Another day past and I was sitting up in bed, being washed in a chair and to my understanding was slowly getting better. I still hurt, I mean I did have a 7 hour operation, where they had to lift my womb out, removed my colon, construct the pouch and then but me back together again. But my pouch bag was still empty and I again just didn’t bother asking about it. I thought they must be emptying it when I was asleep.
Three days after my operation I went down hill. I woke up feeling sick and shaking quite a lot. I asked the nurse for help and she brought me a bowl, just in case. I had to roll over to my side and waited. Soon enough I was sick, which is not easy when you’ve had your stomach measles cut. I had to lean over the side of the bed to allow gravity to enable me to be sick. I filled up three bowls one after another, my fellow patients had to get up out of bed to help me as there were no nurses around to help me.
I finished being sick and two nurses came in and gave me a set of injections. At first they thought I had morphine poisoning and took my sick bowls away to be checked. As I laid back down I noticed I had opened my wound. A nurse had to come back and put me back together again, this moment was very surreal – seeing a hole in your stomach.
I don’t remember anything after this. I was given so much morphine I was asleep for three days. What had happened was my pouch was blocked by the draining tube. Because the waste couldn’t leave the normal way it filled my body and up so it left the top, so in theory I was throwing up poo. This put me into a prolapse and my body couldn’t take it. I was very sick for those three days but to be honest I don’t remember a thing.
After the three days I began to come round and as soon as I was able to get on my feet, I had all my tubes removed. I began going to the toilet and after a day of this I was able to eat and drink very small amounts. After two more days of this routine I was strong enough to have the morphine removed and the drips. I was getting better and recovering well.
I was able to leave a week and a half after my operation, although I had to have another week of rest I felt so much better being back at home.
My operation was an experience and my experience. Others out there who would have the same operation will not go through what I went through. I wanted to share with you my story and I guess to highlight one thing. Yes, my experience is unique but I got through it. I’m still here, better than ever and living very happily with my pouch.
I know after a while my pouch will weaken and I will have to have a stoma but I also know that if I didn’t have this operation I would be dead.
I hope others out there find the strength to do it and realise you’re not alone.