I recently wrote a post about diverticulitis, and about how I ended up needing emergency surgery because of the damage it caused to my intestine.
Excerpt from the end of the post, Joys of an Aging Body: The main problem with this decision, however, was that during the procedure, which apparently happens without incident MOST of the time, the surgeon perforated my bowel and once again I headed to the operating room for emergency surgery. I was not a happy patient.
At the end of the post I mentioned that I would let you know how I eventually fared, so here it the rest of the story:
I spent the next ten days in the hospital, recovering from the surgery and from a few complications of the surgery, including a build-up of fluid in my lungs and chest. But finally I was released and was able to go home, eat real food and sleep in my own bed again.
Now all I had to do was wait until the surgeon decided that my body was ready for the colostomy-reversal operation.
I returned to work, unsure of how I’d inconspicuously care for my colostomy during the day. What if the bag made terrible noises in the middle of a meeting? What if people stared at the bulge in my abdomen as the bag filled with body waste? How could I empty it and clean it in the women’s washroom without everyone hearing me?
I realize now that my concerns were rather frivolous in the big scheme of life, but at the time they were very real to me. I managed, however, and after a few weeks didn’t think about my ‘buddy’ tagging along with me everywhere I went. The colostomy was becoming a part of who I was, not much different than my long, skinny feet or my silver hair.
A month or so later I had a followup appointment with the surgeon and received the ‘A-OK’ I needed for my surgery. It was scheduled for Feb 2007. Dance of joy!
The surgery went ahead as planned and I endured another nine or ten days in the hospital, living on a diet of clear fluids and jello (Some of you will remember that I HATE jello now, and that it is because of my hospital stays. Even now, six years later, I can’t stomach trying anything containing jello, including ‘jello-shooters’ that are popular at parties.)
I eventually progressed from clear fluids and jello to soft foods and then to a regular diet, but had to remain in the hospital until my intestines began to work properly on their own. Then, just as it seemed that I would be released, I was diagnosed with a ‘hospital bacterial infection’, which required another round of antibiotics and a few more days of hospital food before I could actually go home.
That was five years ago. Since then, I’ve had a several more attacks of diverticulitis that have caused a lot of pain and have left me weak afterwards.
Each time I experience an attack I’m filled with questions: Should I go to the hospital? Do I need antibiotics? Will I look like a hypochondriac if I go to outpatients and the doctor says I’m okay? How long is too long to wait? How much pain is too much pain? I never know the correct answers and I second-guess my decision every time.
Last week my aging body acted up again and no matter what I did the pain wouldn’t go away. I rested, I drank fluids, I took over-the-counter medicine. Nothing helped, so I finally decided a hospital visit was in order.
After a few hours of waiting and after repeating my story many, many times, I saw my doctor. My worst fear (that he would want to keep me there and would try to force me to eat jello) didn’t materialize; he simply prescribed antibiotics and sent me home.
I feel much better this week–I’m back to complaining about sore muscles from working in my yards at home and at my cottage, but I can live with that particular ‘joy of an aging body’ as I know it is at least a sign that I’m getting physical exercise. (Yes, I know that it’s also a sign that I’m out-of-shape, but one step at a time, right?)
What about you? Has your body begun to show its age? Do you have any tips for people living with diverticulitis or other intestinal diseases?
Until next time…cheers!