Saturday, May 6, 2017


Friday,Nov.13/2016, one of the luckiest days of my life, I survive a 9 hour colon-rectal operation that saved my life.Unexpectedly I was assigned  a senior surgeon who heroically attempted to do the surgery laparoscopy, despite the scarring ,of 2 previous surgeries in the same area.I will forever be indebted to her for her compassionate and highly professional care. Now, some 6 months later, after extensive radiation treatment , I am considered cancer free.
 For those of you(most I assume),unfamiliar with the inner workings of colon-rectal surgery,both my colon and rectum were removed, to be placed by an ostomy,whereby a muscle membrane is threaded through the abdomen wall and  is attached to a bag to collect solid waste.I was now an official baggier. Despite, being told prior to surgery that this is a real possibility, it is another matter altogether dealing with it. Simply stated my body had been shocked and traumatized both physically and psychologically. I was literally left holding the bag..
During the first days of hospitalization ,you are extremely weak and your only concern is to diminish the pain.At times I was on such a strong narcotic that I actually began to have visual hallucinations.Notwithstanding the empathy gained with my psychiatric patients ,I quickly chose not to take narcotics and substitute other more appropriate pain medication.After a few days of survival and re-awakening of one's bowels after massive surgery I was ready to learn about this new thing attached to my body.
The first person to teach you about the care of your ostomy is a nurse who specializes in this area and is called an endoscopy nurse(ET).You are expected before one can leave the hospital ,to be able to  empty and change the bag attached to my abdomen.In my case the ET nurse had a PhD and  very professionally and compassionately begin the process of teaching me to care for myself. At the beginning ET felt more like that  another ET(extra-terrestrial)character in the movie.Despite my initial fears and anxiety I soon was able to master this task. No doubt I was motivated by the desire to have a full and active lifestyle in this new body I had acquired.
After discharge, the task of teaching me fell to the community health nurse associated with Community Care Access Centre(CC AC).At first,like all timid students I was reluctant to engage,preferring to observe her do the work.Gradually, with her supervision, I was able to perform the necessary tasks.One day,home alone, I had a major failure of my ostomy. What to Do?
I had 2 choices: attempt to get help or try to fix it myself.With considerable trepidation and anxiety I followed my training and was successful in  re-attaching my ostomy.It was a day to celebrate my newfound freedom.As expected, when I told the nurse about this situation I was quickly terminated .
During this life changing experience I have received incredible moral and emotional support from my partner, friends and family. You know who you are.I am thankful and grateful for your presence in my life. I feel truly blessed.
People come into your life for a reason. Shortly after I terminated with the CC AC nurse  I received a telephone call from a representative of the firm I buy my health care supplies.After the usual chit-chat we discussed the specifics of caring for my ostomy. Over the phone,and latter by E-mail, she coached me in ways to simplify care of my ostomy. Every time I change my ostomy I think of the good fortune of being contacted by this very professional and caring health provider.
 Bagging it means living with the dangers of overflow,wind sounds emanating from strange parts of your body  and other awkward and embarrassing moments Recently I was playing bridge with my buddies,when suddenly  a crescendo of noise,not alike the passing of wind emitted from my stomach.After an awkward silence,I said"Excuse me". No one said a word and we continued our game.
 To live with a bag is to live with uncertainty,social embarrassment and other unknown challenges.One needs to think about the bigger picture.I AM ALIVE,well and active and for that I FEEL TRULY BLESSED>