In January of this year I underwent emergency surgery for an ileostomy bag, following a diagnosis of Ulcerative Colitis... which took a while to become clear. Obviously I was put to sleep during my surgery. I can't sit here and reminisce on a memory that I wasn't aware of. From the moment I went into the operating theater until a couple of hours from coming out, I was out like a light. And the idea of the surgery was most definitely more frightening than the actual thing itself. But when I had eventually come out, I'd awoken sooner than they'd expected. According to my parents and the doctors, I'd tried to fling myself off of the operating table. Luckily I was stopped, otherwise who'd known what else could have gone wrong!
What I can tell you though, is that after the surgery, you feel weird. Not just, ouch, that hurts weird. But kind of empty. Of course, I'd had my large intestine taken out so you could say I felt a little lighter, but it wasn't just that. I didn't completely understand what had happened and I no longer felt like myself. I felt like it had all just been a dream, and therefore I had no need to take it in. I'd gotten so used to feeling ill weeks prior to the surgery that I wasn't ready for it to just be gone. It was great not having to run to the toilet every two seconds, and just being able to lay there - but it had been replaced with a whole new meaning of the word pain. My body vibrated as I forced words out of my mouth, gasping for help in a robotic, monotone whisper. My stomach stung though my scar felt numb. Not the sort of numb where you can't feel it though. Sort of like the aftermath of intense pins and needles. It hurt to move so I didn't even bother attempting to for a few days. I was forced to when my catheter had slipped out of place though. I'd never realised how much we take our stomach muscles for granted! The simplest tasks had become virtually impossible!
It's odd looking down to see a big red scar down my stomach every day. It's not as if it's one of those scars you wouldn't notice if you didn't know. It's so blatantly obviously there, in a line that tells you "I've been wide open!" I don't mind the scar so much though, it's just the image of what had happened for it to be there, sitting so prominently. I'm no more educated with the surgery than you who reads this now, either. Which is even scarier! I have no knowledge of what it looked like, how it felt or in what order things were done. And that's slightly more terrifying, it's almost as if it didn't happen!
Recovery after the surgery itself isn't what you'd expect, either. Of course I was sore. But it was more of a drain than anything else. I definitely suffered with extreme fatigue, afterwards. But again, that is one of the major side effects of having an ileostomy. Your body has trouble absorbing as many nutrients as before, and you are more at risk of a B12 deficiency (iron deficiency). It takes a while to get back on your feet and to adjust to things. But to be honest, being cut open has been the least of my issues throughout the whole experience. And it's weird how quickly my body has adjusted to things. Although I felt different after the surgery, I'm surprised at how normal my body feels. I genuinely did think I'd notice I have such a large part of me missing. But I guess when you compare it to the rest of your body, it's really not that bad. And when you come to think of it, I don't think anything is really that bad. Not when you're alive.