How quickly time flies! It is exactly 3 months ago today that I had surgery to create a permanent ileostomy. Having had perforation of my colon last year and peritonitis, my colon was so damaged that it basically stopped working - so now it's bypassed and the end of my bowel is a hole in my abdomen. Nice trick!
That means I've had my little stoma (the technical name) for 12 whole weeks. Sometimes it feels like forever and sometimes just like yesterday. Sometimes it just doesn't seem real at all.
I'm usually a really positive person, but I have to admit that recently a few negative thoughts have been sneaking into my head. Up until now I've been so ecstatic about feeling better, about being able to eat, sleep and exercise again that I didn't care about the bag... in fact I was grateful for it. But now the euphoria of feeling better is starting to wear off a bit.. and I catch myself thinking 'how am I going to live with this thing for the rest of my life?' I'm sometimes repulsed by it and if I'm honest just sometimes REALLY wish it wasn't there at all. This whole journey has been crazy. 18 months ago I was training for an Ironman thinking I was invincible and superwoman .. Here I am now (never having made the Ironman) with a permanent colostomy bag, having survived a life threatening perforation of my colon and now faced with re-building every aspect of not only my fitness, but my life and my career. Sometimes it just sucks!
For some reason however, these are the cards I've been dealt and it is what it is. I have to remind myself that things could be a lot worse. If I had MS or Parkinsons disease or cancer for example... something that really prevented me from living my life the way I want to. The reality is that the bag is nothing more than an inconvenience and it needs to be put in it's place. It is not going to stop me from doing anything! so there.
On that note.. my actual training has been going pretty well, although painfully slowly. My heartrate is feeling more stable and I can actually jog up a hill now without it shooting through the roof. This last week I've clocked up 15 miles of running and 35 miles on the bike as well as my core stability work. As ever its all very steady and slow, but already I'm starting to see some tiny improvements in pace for the same heartrate and recovery is becoming more predictable. Hooray! about time. Don't get me wrong, I'm still running at snails pace.. but it's starting to get a little easier and I'm really enjoying it. If nothing else the 'lay off' has given me a renewed sense of enthusiasm for training... and that in itself feels amazing!
I still have a bad case of 'skinny fit runner' envy though and watched the recent Ironman World Championships in Hawaii with a mixture of awe and jealously! I'd always dreamed that one day I just might qualify... now of course it'll be harder than ever and I have hurdles which I'll probably never be able to overcome. So I think it's one goal that I'll have to put in the 'dream on!' box for now and focus on a more realistic target - the local 10km to start with.
To put things in perspective though. My lovely dog Willow has just qualified as a PAT (pets as therapy) dog and we just had our first 'date' at a local nursing home which specialises in dementia care. She was an absolute star and everyone loved her - feeding her treats, patting her and she wagged her tail a lot! It was a really lovely thing to do and all the residents were so grateful and really enjoyed spending time with her. It was lovely to help put a smile on their faces and just give a little something, no matter how small. It did make me think though... what have I really got to complain about??? life is just too short and even though I have this stupid bag to deal with... it's nothing really. Certainly not compared to those poor old folk in the nursing home suffering dementia and unable to live in their own homes. One day, probably not that far from now, that could be me sat in my nursing home, patting the 'therapy' dog brought in by a local volunteer.. I just need to grasp my life in whatever shape or form it might be in and live it to the full. So it's time to push those negative thoughts from my head and be grateful for my little bag which has given me my health back. Positive 'head' is firmly back on.. and sorry for the moan!
I don't know who Merle Miller is.. but I do love this quote.
"Everyone has his burden. What counts is how you carry it."