I had an appointment with my surgeon today. I need to have my rectum and some colon removed. It no longer has function and I essentially have a mast cell twist on diversion colitis. This has been coming for a while.
We talked about what the surgery entailed, healing time, mast cell precautions and how to suppress anaphylaxis in the days after the operation. Never once did he remind me that removing this tissue means that I will never be able to reverse my ostomy. He knew I knew. I was glad he didn’t say it.
“I would never reverse my ostomy,” I told his Chief Resident during the appointment. And that’s true. I never would. I would never want to again be in the position I was before I got it, where my life was one long GI nightmare of amotility.
I am not often surprised by my doctors, but today was one of those rare occasions. Everything that needs to be done can’t be done at once without the likelihood of complications. This means I will get the majority done during one surgery, after which I will be in the hospital for about a week, and will recover at home for 4-6 weeks. Then I will likely need a second surgery.
We set a rough date, agreed to meet again three weeks before surgery to go over everything again, and I left. I hurried down the hall past the brown wooden doors and turned quickly into a single stall bathroom. I locked the door and put my hands over my face just as the tears started, hot against my reddening cheeks.
I would never reverse my ostomy because I would not be able to function without it. I mean it every time I say it. But knowing logically that there is no reason to keep the rectum and excluded colon doesn’t make me feel less robbed. It was easy to pretend that I wouldn’t always need it, even if I only pretended with myself. I just slammed the door on my last tiny chance at normalcy.
The reality of having an ostomy for the rest of my life is something I have avoided dealing with emotionally for quite some time. I talk about it a lot, without embarrassment, but it sort of feels like I’m just trying to make myself feel better about this decision two years later.
There are some truths I have to ignore to survive. I have to mislead myself to be able to love the world again every morning.