One Year Post-Op

Today marks my one year BCIR anniversary.

I am so happy I made the decision to have surgery.  I trusted my instinct.  I researched.  The decision was years in the making, but the timing was finally right one year ago.

I have no regrets.  My quality of life is drastically different and improved.  I don't have to worry about waking up with a leak at 3 in the morning, showering, and stripping my sheets.  I can roll over with a stomach full of gas.  I no longer profusely press on my stomach where my stoma was to make sure my appliance is still intact.  I can manage most days with 2-3 intubations, depending on what I've eaten.  Most days I leave for work at 6:30 am and do not intubate until I get home at 5.  It's incredible.

But, nothing is perfect.  I still suffer from chronic pouchitis, although it is controlled with a maintenance dose of antibiotics.  Pouchitis is a common post-operative "complication" and the more my pouch (the reservoir that stores my waste internally) matures, the more my risk for pouchitis should decrease.  Again, not ideal, but manageable.  It's usually my own fault when I have issues because I've missed a dose of medicine, but within days I am back to normal.  My only other selfish complaint is that my diet is actually more restrictive now.  Imagine everything you eat having to eventually pass out of a catheter.  When they told me in the hospital that my new motto was "chew, chew, chew, drink, drink, drink" they were NOT kidding.  These are surface issues and by no means do I struggle with either, but they are minor annoyances.

I could go on and on...

If you have read or followed my blog, you know that I am fairly resilient.  So while this surgery has been the greatest risk I've ever taken in my life, it also feels like this is how it's been my whole life.  I'd like to think that it's not for a lack of gratitude, but for the knowledge I've always had in myself that I would be okay regardless of having a traditional ostomy or not.

If I have learned anything this last year through my experience with the BCIR, it's that you should trust your instincts.  Once I was approved for this surgery, it became my number one goal.  I researched and prepared myself, and for those reasons I knew everything would turn out okay.

TRUST YOUR GUT.  And surround yourself with people who love you, respect you, and support your decisions.

PRESENT DAY.  You can see the small bandage below my
waist line that covers my new "stoma".  I change the bandage
twice a day.  Because I have an opening in my stomach
I still experience output in the form of mucous.
Despite how horrific this looks, my surgeon actually did an
INCREDIBLE job fixing my midline incision.  Looking at this
photo head on, you can barely see on the left where my ileostomy
was before I had it placed on the right side.  Hopefully over
the next few years that scar will fade as well.  Some of the
other small red marks are just from sitting, but you can see a couple
other small holes where my stomach tube and drains were.
CIRCA 2014?  Ileostomy life.  That's with an empty bag, so you can only imagine how much an ostomy has the capacity to protrude and become annoying.  This picture isn't great but you can also kinda see how my midline incision gave my stomach the look of a butt.  Very thankful Dr. Rehnke was able to tighten up my midline incision as much as possible.