3 years ago, 14th April 2015, I was signing consent forms giving the surgeons permission to take out my colon, stomach, abdominal wall, spleen and any other parts they felt necessary. I questioned what would be left of me.
Nurses marked an X on my belly for the ideal positioning for a stoma.
I was scheduled for a major surgery due to a tumour they said was inoperable some 3 months earlier.
My family were with me, friends were sending messages, while I was in between the waiting room and meeting various hospital staff. The emotions fluctuated with all the uncertainty.
The procedure was explained to me several times since I arrived at the hospital at 6am until I met with the anaesthetists at about 2pm.
My main concern was that I’d wake up mid way through the operation, and that thought scared me more than anything. The guys reassured me that would not happen, that they would be observing me, and if I showed any signs of awakening they would give me more of the numbing, sleep inducing stuff.
And the only thing I remember was them asking me to turn on my sides as they put a needle into my spine.
I next woke up, and saw a clock showing it was 6.30pm, nurses gathered round and kept telling me to breathe. I was frantically trying to while I was gagging. One thing the pre-op guidance forgot to tell me was that, I’d have an NG tube inserted through my nose, that would go down my throat.
I didn’t want to know how the surgery went. I had more family arrive to see me as I was taken to the intensive care unit. All I wanted to do was sleep. Strangely I was up throughout the night, being under strict observation by the ICU nurses. The ratio of patients to nurses was very comforting.
I was in so much pain in my chest area, so they gave me a button to press every few minutes, for pain relief. I couldn’t feel my lower body, or even lift my legs. I couldn’t even push myself up on the bed (for days) after slipping down from the pillow.
The next morning I met my chief surgeon, there were 4 in total, who was very happy. They took out my colon as planned, and ‘a wedge off’ my stomach meaning I still had a sizeable chunk left. The abdominal wall and spleen were still in place. It was a huge relief to hear his words.
I very rarely think back to that day, and the aftermath, but as I think it over it was insane.
The days that followed, I regained movement, I had the catheter and NG tube taken out. I learnt to change my stoma bag. I had the staples removed from the wound.
I marvel at how the human body works, at how people have mastered their craft to perform such procedures, at how others dedicate their lives to care for others in distress.
I do not have the words to describe the 3 years since that day, but I am all welled up as I write these.