Living with a colostomy is not always conducive to a type A personality. For almost two years, there was a smooth transition to life as a “Barbie Butt” (if I haven’t already explained it…it’s cute but not functional). After the honeymoon, living with a colostomy got a little more complex. Scar tissue covers my abdomen, from my pelvic bones to my lower ribs, and cause blockages at the most inconvenient times. In November, I had surgery to remove the scar tissue and end the blockages, as much as possible.
We arrived at the beach ready for a relaxing week of ocean, pool, sand and no expectations or schedules. The first night of vacation my ostomy proved once again how unpredictable life can be. During dinner I got the, all-to-familiar, blockage pain. The only thing I can compare a blockage to is labor. Labor pains and blockage pain starts off the same, it comes and goes, but builds with intensity and by the time you know it’s real you can barely take a breath in-between another wave of pain. As it started, I just hoped that it wouldn’t turn into anything serious. Before dinner was over, I knew my hope was just a well wish, and we had a long walk back to the car. Walking is actually recommended for blockages, so again with hope that it would pass, I walked. Arriving at the hotel, I knew that all hope was lost and this was going to end in an unexpected detour to the local hospital.
While the pain was similar, the effects were very different from anything I had ever experienced. Normally, when I have a blockage I don’t want to stand or sit up straight. This time, I didn’t want to sit. As I waited in the ER, I stood beside or leaned on the bed, because sitting was too painful. I have to give some accolades to some very talented nurses. The ER nurse was able to get my IV in while I was standing and I never got in the bed until they administered the pain and the anti-nausea medication. After that, it’s pretty much a blur. I informed the ER staff that there would not be any talk of an NG (nasogastric) tube, unless we needed to talk about surgery. Nurses and doctors are never comfortable with this discussion, but I’m always truthful. I know when I need an NG tube and when an NG tube is just precautionary, and I will be the first to ask for the tube when it is absolutely necessary.
In my few waking or cognizant moments, I remember yelling for Chris, because I couldn’t find the barf bag or bucket, but really that’s all I remember. The next day, I woke up with a very heavy chest and memories of the Cleveland Clinic and my first bad reaction to medications came flooding back. I looked down at my chest to find a telemetry unit and quickly interrogated my husband for answers. Knowing he was there and has been through this before was comforting, but his face told more than the facts. At some point, my heart started racing and my husband noticed that my blood oxygen levels had plummeted to 25%. He alerted the staff and they immediately put me on the heart telemetry monitor and oxygen.
My husband doesn’t scare easily. I think because we have been through so many scares already, but he said, “This was a bad one.” For my friends that live with an ostomy, you understand the unpredictable nature of life. In reality, it’s just disappointing. I wanted to enjoy this vacation, and instead it started off with a trip to the hospital. Missing time with my family and trying to catch up once I was finally discharged. You don’t just bounce back after a blockage, or at least I don’t. It takes several days to feel like yourself and sometimes even more. I have to take it easy, baby my belly and watch what I eat. My stomach has been in a state of shock since this last blockage and all I want to do is EAT! I’ve been trying to enjoy soft foods, while I watch my family devour crab legs!
I think I need a vacation from my colostomy, or maybe just a vacation from my colostomy’s attitude!