Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Happy 1st Birthday Mr Stoma

A year has passed since I had my ileostomy surgery. Tomorrow is the official 1st birthday of Mr Stoma.

It's also been a roller coaster month since I last updated this blog. Since then I've had..

A calf tear :-(
A partial small bowel blockage :-(
Acceptance that there's an ongoing problem with my stomach :-(
A 40th birthday :-)
A new 10km (post surgery) best of 51.17 :-)

Just after Cranbrook Triathlon, I developed a small tear in my calf during a coaching session which set me back again. No biggie really, just frustrating and meant a couple of weeks of no running, physio and more foam rolling (sigh). So I didn't do Bexhill Triathlon - and didn't get to meet Graham Norton either. In the end it turned out for the best, as that very same day was the beginning of a week of being a bit poorly.

Without going into too much detail, on the Sunday morning I realised I had very little output from my stoma and was feeling a bit sick. This isn't a great situation as it can mean an obstruction, which at worst can be life threatening. I think mine was a partial blockage and wasn't an emergency, but I still felt really poorly - nauseous, wiped out, bloated and couldn't really eat anything. I resorted to liquids, sports drinks and meal replacement shakes but it was a good 6 days before I could eat much solid food and I felt awful for about a week. I was close to taking myself off to A&E on a couple of occasions and felt pretty desperate. It was a scary patch and I think the dawning of a realisation that perhaps things aren't totally 100% with my stomach. This wasn't an isolated blip either.. if I'm honest, things have been tricky for a while and I've been having to eliminate more and more foods from my diet. Not a major problem and for the most part it's manageable, but it just feels a bit like it was before I had the last surgery.. and that is just a bit scary.

My consultant seems to think I maybe have adhesions (which causes a kinked hosepipe effect), narrowed stoma or an issue with the motility of the small intestine (slightly more of a problem), but unless it gets much worse, prolonged or acute, there's nothing really to be done for the moment. Especially since things are better than they were. So for now I'm trying to manage things with a low residue diet (think low fibre, white processed things, easily digestible foods and very little greenery) and lots of liquids and hoping it'll go away... The thought of it being this for the rest of my days isn't a happy one. Interestingly though, I'm not struggling with weight loss.. I'm still able to get adequate calorie intake through meal replacement and sports drinks.. and thankfully can still eat chocolate and cake :-)

Of course it could be worse, and I'm still much better than I was before I had the surgery, but it's not as good as it could be and isn't normal 'ileostomy' function. I can't eat any meat, anything with fibre, fruit, vegetables, salad and can't tolerate a sip of wine without feeling really ill. It makes meals and going out for dinner challenging and frustrating. Until you have an issue with food, you don't realise how much our lives revolve around meals and alcohol for celebrations and social gatherings. It made my 40th birthday celebrations somewhat quiet, although everyone is very understanding and no-one expects me to drink myself into oblivion and party the night away.. thank God! give me a cup of tea, piece of cake and a nice long dog walk with my family and I'm happy.

Team 'Ostomy Lifestyle' on the start - bin bag chic
British 10km
Anyway, none of this has helped my training and I'm coming to the conclusion it's just a case of do what I can when I feel like it.. which hasn't been very much over the last few weeks. I did manage to drag myself around the British 10km on Sunday though in aid of my charity 'Ostomy Lifestyle'. A massive event with 25,000 people around the streets of London. On the start I wondered whether I'd actually finish the damn thing and was on the lookout for the First Aid and ambulance stations.. not my normal thoughts on the start of a 10km. Anyway, I wouldn't go as far to say I enjoyed it, but it was a good atmosphere and I ran 51.17 (a new post bag PB) and got to spend time with some great friends as we travelled and ran together. I was also proud to support the charity and raised a few pennies for Ostomy Lifestyle which was great... and I didn't end up in the Red Cross tent. Always a bonus. I felt the lack of training, proper nutrition and preparation though and it really was hard.. much harder than a 10km should be. Right now my legs feel like they've run a marathon.

So anyway.. as always, too much to cram into a short blog. I really need to update more often. Things aren't perfect, but could be worse and I'm managing to get by. Whether or not I'll be able to think about an Autumn Marathon or Ironman next year is another matter... At times it would be easier just to spend a bit more time on the sofa.. actually that sounds rather nice :-)

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