I am so excited to have the fabulous Thaila Skye as a guest poster for OstoMYstory! Thaila is an amazing advocate for ostomates. She had surgery in 2010 and later started blogging and has a very active YouTube channel with tons videos on living with an ostomy, reviews of products, as well as talking about health and fitness. Her OstoMonday series is great! (Links to everything below.) So thank you, Thaila, for sharing your story on The Stolen Colon!
Having a stoma can be difficult at times. But having two stomas? Yep, that’s definitely twice as complicated.
I remember when the stoma nurse visited me before my operation, where they prepare you for what’s going to come. “You might wake up with one bag, you might wake up with two, we just don’t know yet.” Great, that’s exactly what a 24-year-old woman wants to hear. She marked X on my right-hand side, and then another X on the left-hand side. Y’know, just in case.
I woke up in the recovery section of the colorectal surgery ward. It wasn’t just one bag. It wasn’t even just two bags. When I looked down under the sheet for the first time, it was like I was hooked up to the Matrix.
- an ileostomy bag
- a colostomy bag, just for the mucous in my remaining colon (known as a mucous fistula – how very glamorous!)
- a huge dressing covering the 16cm laparotomy wound
- a drain for where my colon had perforated (the reason for my surgery in the first place)
- an indwelling catheter
- a morphine drip (temporarily the love of my life)
- an oxygen tube down my throat
Of course, when I first woke up, I didn’t know what any of these things were. I had been so out of it from septic shock when the nurse and surgeon had been explaining everything to me that I had really no idea what was going on, or what they were going to be doing.
It was a week before I got the courage to ask my consultant, “so what have I got on the inside, now?” He looked at me with a confused look on his face, as if it was the most ridiculous question he’d ever heard. But it wasn’t a ridiculous question. They’d been in and moved things around and taken things out, and I didn’t even know what was where anymore. He crudely sketched out my new anatomy for me, and I finally understood how I worked. I was finally able to name my stomas, and they became affectionately known as Stan (ileostomy) and Colin (colostomy).
Of course, it means twice as many ostomy supplies, twice as long to change my bags, twice as many chances of leaks… and it took a while to manage them both. In hindsight, I’d have preferred them to have just removed the whole colon instead, rather than just leaving a bit of healthy bowel in there, as Colin can be rather inconvenient sometimes, as it’s not stool but mucus, and it’s very difficult to predict when it’ll come out. Saying that, I’d prefer not have any more surgery if it’s not life-threatening, as it’s rather a lot of hassle.
I do love Stan and Colin. It sounds silly, sometimes, especially if I’ve had a difficult bag change or some unexpected sore skin or, even worse, a leak. But they really did save my life, and now I think I’d actually miss them if I didn’t have them anymore.