This time last September I was heading into surgery for the second time after the main colostomy surgery in January 2019. Complications had arisen and a non-healing wound and fistulae that had formed a track inside meant that the best option was to reopen the perineum and let it heal again with the aid of a VAC. 

Despite some lingering issues, things have been better this year than they were last year and the outlook is looking better than it ever has been in the last two-and-a-half years. 

How Has The Year Been?

Back when I was told I was going to have surgery (a process that was as quick as being told on a Tuesday afternoon that I would be having it on Friday the same week) I accepted that I needed to take a step back in order to move forward. 

The VAC did a great job of quickly improving a deep open wound but the wound that was left was proving to be stubborn to heal. A year and 300 visits to the nurse (and counting), the wound still hasn’t fully healed. I’ve had moments when I thought I was almost there but then it would open back up. I’m sure the nurses don’t mind the extra chocolates that I’ve been giving them as a thank you for putting up with me. 

I’m on first name terms with nurses and receptionists at my local surgery.

The wound is always on the cusp of fully healing but never quite makes it so right now I’m not sure when I’ll be signed off. Thankfully it doesn’t cause me any issues and is rather a minor annoyance.

Irrigation Improvements

Since starting irrigating in January 2020, I’ve enjoyed the additional freedom it has given me although it hasn’t always been plain sailing. I’ve had occasional issues with abdominal plain and wind has been posing an issue lately but the extra effort in the mornings has been worthwhile.

For many months I was sticking with irrigating every morning but on a few occasions (on a Sunday when I wanted to head out early to go walking) I tried leaving it a day and was surprised to make it to 48 hours without issue. I continued this for a few weeks and when I was confident that I could go for 48 hours without bowel movements increased the amount of times that I was skipping days and I’ve now reached a point where I’m routinely irrigating every other day. 

Much like irrigation allowed me to get back some normality in my life, reducing the frequency of irrigation has given me even more normality and freedom. Now, with some forward planning, I can plan the irrigation around activities so if I need to complete an early morning run at 5:30am, I can irrigate the day before and simply head out when I get up rather than getting up an hour earlier. 

Knowing that I can irrigate every other day means that I have the freedom to mix it up and allows me to be in control rather than originally being controlled by the daily irrigations.

Running Again

I’ve already blogged about how I’ve started running again and things have been going really well, perhaps better than I expected. My times have been improving through initially my own training and more recently a training plan with Since starting running again in May my 5k times have improved from around 27 minutes in May to 20:26 in September. 

Strava chart showing fitness progress. Probably not accurate but it does feel like I’ve improved greatly over the last few months.

The hernia isn’t causing an issue, the lingering wound isn’t causing an issue, the training is going well and I’m so excited that I can’t see any health issues getting in the way of progress like last year. 

The Stoma Community 

There’s a great little community for ostomates with ColostomyUK offering support and awareness through various initiatives, a number of people promoting similar initiatives on Twitter and specific groups on Facebook including one for those irrigating. I’m naturally a shy, reserved person so not as active as I could be but I do follow the community and I’m hoping that over the coming months I can become more active in promoting how having an ostomy doesn’t have to be a hinderance and you can lead a full life.

What’s Next?

Hernia aside, I’m hopeful that I’ve reached a point in this journey where things have settled down, the Crohn’s Disease is under control (still taking immunosuppressives) and I’m getting on well with My New Bum. If this continues then there’s nothing stopping me from getting back to my old life of 2017/18 when I was competing in races and even further back when I was able to travel without worrying about cancelling. 

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Diagnosed with IBD in 2002, I have experienced the usual ups and downs of having a chronic disease and tried numerous medications but the time finally came in 2018 to elect to have surgery to improve my life. I had the surgery in 2019 and this is my journey having a 'New Bum'.

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