Your Ostomy is Just the Beginning
How many times have you thought “why me?” Well I get it.
An Ostomy is not an elective surgery. Most people who get one are having challenges with a health condition, or an accident that will require them to get one. I got my first Ostomy after a four-decade battle with Crohn’s disease. I remember that day like it was yesterday. I can’t remember which bowel resection I was up to. But I know that something had gone dreadfully wrong. I had the surgery and had just moved from step-down (one step below ICU, where you are kept until you become stable), to a regular room. 24 hours into that room assignment something inside began to rupture. That night I contacted my doctor who scheduled me for an intrusive test five hours later. I was in too much pain to tolerate the test, at which time they realized that I would have to have an emergency ileostomy. I was in the loneliest place in the world. I had just had a seven-and-a-half-hour surgery and I had to go back in. I did not know how my body would be able to handle it.
My family who had come to the hospital in the wee hours of the morning, were told once again, that emergency surgery would have to be done in order to save my life. Nobody was prepared for the news of an ileostomy. (An ileostomy is when they divert your intestine from the inside to the outside of your body, usually at the lower end of the small intestine called the ileum.) Neither myself or my family knew what this was, and while they explained it to me I began to ask what other options we had. Of course, the answer was “none if you want to live”. I responded the way that I always do with “ok, let’s just get this done”. I didn’t have time to express fear. Because, I saw the look on my family’s face as they began to draw on my belly in the elevator to determine the site of the surgery. I was scared, angry and worried because I had no control, so I prayed.
My ileostomy taught me a lot about life and stamina. I became even more determined to learn everything I could to make this a smooth transition.
After the surgery I had my consultation with my WOC nurse and began my new journey. She was pretty amazing in how she explained everything and made sure that I understood the mechanics of taking care of my Ostomy. It was a daunting task. It was one of the longest days of my life and a big blur. My family was super supportive as I was so weak. But they didn’t have a clue what to do. They were ready to take direction from me. And while I have managed to keep a stiff upper lip through the first 14 lifesaving surgical procedures, this was different. I was grieving. I knew I had to figure it out, and my only consolation was that eventually it would be reversed (this is called a take-down). Well, I can probably tell you about that in another blog.
My ileostomy taught me a lot about life and stamina. I became even more determined to learn everything I could to make this a smooth transition. After learning to walk 10 steps from death’s door, over the course of 18 different surgeries, I eventually learned to work my P.L.A.N.© and you can too.
P.L.A.N.© stands for Prepare, Let go of Shame, Ask for help, Never Give up!
I tell my clients all the time that “life will teach you some things; that which you want to learn and that which you don’t.” In life we don’t always get to pick our lessons, but I am so happy that I learned a ton of them here. It allowed me to come to the conclusion that my fellow Crohn’s Warriors and Ostomate brothers and sisters needed the same support that I did after surgery. And so I am here. I am not a doctor or a nurse, just someone who cares about you. I wrote books and created a learning platform ThePossibilitiesLifestyle, to support your experience with the books and provide The Possibilities Lifestyle Coaching. My goal is to help and support as many people as I can. Please, I want you to remember this.
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I was born with an oomphalocele birth defect in 1967. Several abdominal surgeries before I was age 2 incl a gastronomy tube. Crohns age 16. Several more bowel resections. Ileostomy in 2016. Only sigmoid to rectum still inside but not attached. Barbie butt surgery eventually. But it’s fine and I’m more than okay with it because the Ostomy bag has kept my Crohns at bay for 5 years now this May! So I can climb rock walls, run 5k obstacle course runs, paddle board, and currently I’m competing in a fitness magazine Cover competition in the hopes that a mom who’s 53 with a lifetime of health issues she’s overcome incl dehydration a chest port and neurological conditions can grace their pages to show that fitness comes in all shapes and sizes. To me it’s the heart of the fight. Some days suck and I’m weak or tired. But when I feel great I give it my all. I teach my kids to never give up. Always go after what you dream. Persevere be strong. This illness is a struggle but we’re warrior strong ?? and with determination prayer and support I move forward every day! FB Zanazen Ostomy-fitness @fitnessostomy to see more and https://mshealthandfitness.com/2021/zanazen