2 weeks ago I had colostomy surgery to permanently divert my bowel. As well as bowel issues I also have Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)and the past 2 years have been quite a journey with my Clinical Immunologist & Colorectal Surgeon trying to work out what was causing my bowel to cease functioning & constantly prolapsing. Consensus of medical opinion is that RA has contributed to some degree to my connective tissues being weakened in this area & in essence set up a disease process in the rectum causing the nerves and muscles to no longer function. After having 3 major surgeries in 18 months to try and repair constant prolapses it became clear there was no other treatment options left to us other than the creation of a permanent stoma to bypass the rectum. After each surgery I would also get infection after infection due to the medication I need to take to manage the RA. I even got c diff which is not a fun thing for anyone but even crazier when you have a non-functioning bowel.
Good news is that I am recovering really well post my colostomy surgery & adjusting to a new & interesting ( to say the least) way of life.
I just wanted to encourage you all to know that we maybe Ostomates and we may have additional health issues but at the end of the day we can still choose to have happy fulfilled lives, different lives yes, but fulfilled all the same. A year ago I would have thought a stoma was the end of the world. Today I am so relieved to have a functioning bowel. 3 years ago I was facing the fact that RA was causing radical changes to my life, the biggest being saying goodbye to my Executive Manager career & the team I led & loved. Today I am medically retired and planning a future of travel and volunteering and writing a book. I am now both a “Swell Gal” & an ” Ostomate” but those labels don’t & won’t define me.
What will define me is that I have a new life to forge & I’m very excited about finding ways to do that with as much passion & commitment I have given everything prior to RA & my stoma coming along. I’ll have difficult days like we all do & days when plans & dreams are restricted by health but one thing I know is that if I can focus on counting my blessings on those days, the clouds pass much more quickly.
My biggest blessing is my amazing husband who has walked this journey with me and stands side by side with me today. We have laughed and we have cried over the past couple of years as each health episode has thrown up new challenges. Today though we are smiling, smiling because my stoma is giving me a chance to put the past couple of years behind me, smiling because we have survived, smiling because we are looking forward to a future full of possibilities. We have even managed to laugh at the unpredictability of my stoma over the past couple of days as it’s all still trying to settle down. We can laugh though because we know life is good and it will get even better as the months pass.
Looking forward to hearing others stories. They are all precious & unique & so worth sharing