G.I. Joe Didn’t Have It This Bad – Jerry’s Colostomy Story
My ostomy journey all started in 2014 with just feeling poorly. I lost about 25 pounds between January and April. I was diagnosed with colon cancer after a 5-6 cm mass was found in the rectum. I had my colostomy surgery in June. I was a broken man. My energy was just not coming back; at best, I would be 90%. The incision on my bum was still sensitive after two years. I could feel it when I stretched, bent, sat, or basically moved. It didn’t hurt, but I knew it was there. If it wasn’t gone by then, I didn’t expect it to.
I found I could do what I had done before, but I didn’t have the same strength or stamina. A colostomy felt like I was changing my own diaper every day. It was turning my life upside down. It was hard to get moving or care about anything.
In 2015, there was something new – I had a bout of shingles. Shingles, I didn’t know what to think. Was I that bad as a child that I am getting punished for it now?
In 2016, a blood clot on my lung showed up on a CT scan. I had another scan, and it was a little bigger. I was put on blood thinners, and it was not fun. The treatment for the blood clot made me feel like a pin cushion. Riding my motorcycle was not recommended when on blood thinners. I put my bike up for sale since I couldn’t ride it that year, but it didn’t sell. I looked forward to riding next year.
That July, I had a biopsy on the back of my head. The doc said not to worry. In September, I sold the bike. I got a new Suzuki and hoped for a little more riding weather.
Spring 2017 came along, and my CT results were good, except for something new again. I went for an examination and found out I had bladder cancer. On May 4, I had surgery. It went OK, and I just had to have examinations every two months for two years. Another bladder surgery and a stent on March 3, 2018, ouch! The stent came out May 18. Bladder exams were all given an A on September 4, January 30, and May 21. When I received my next exam date for 6 months, I asked for 8, but they said no. I had another good exam in December and again the following June. My doctor told me to return in six months and then again in a year.
I had a colonoscopy on September 30, 2019, and all was good. My next exam will be in 5 years. Things are coming along, but that goop is still hard to take.
Something else came up, gout, so my big toe is in pain.
I turned 70 and got a trip to the stroke clinic for high blood pressure and my own blood pressure monitor.
When I first had my colostomy surgery, I couldn’t stop thinking about my stoma. I couldn’t get it out of my mind. “Are you full? Are you leaking? Is your bag on tight? Change now or later? What about now? Can I go to sleep? Do I have to get up? What are you doing? Are you going to do something? What about now?” Questions, questions – it wears one down. These days, I still wonder what my ostomy is doing, but not all the time.
My bum, I still notice it. Six years have passed since my colostomy surgery, and it still gets uncomfortable. Sometimes it is from stretching skin, sitting too long, and sometimes for no reason. My doctor says it will not likely go away. While it isn’t painful, it does let me know it is there. GI Joe never had it so bad.
I’m glad I am retired. I do not think I could do a 7 1/2 hour shift without falling asleep. I keep busy with the house and yard. I do a garden in the summer and shovel snow in the winter. I do the shopping and make most suppers. All that keeps me busy enough.
Being around other ostomates is helpful. I knew of 3 people before my surgery, but they were not close. I have been a member of the Calgary Ostomy Society for several years now. I loved the Christmas potlucks. I helped with the FOWC pack-ups, drove kids to Ostomy Canada Youth Camp, and participated in the Christmas auctions.
Everyone take care.