Hattie’s Stoma Journey: Month 1 After Ileostomy Surgery

Hattie’S Stoma Journey Month 1 After Ileostomy Surgery

I feel like a toddler again!

One month I won’t forget – my first month with my ileostomy bag

This week marks the end of my first month with my ileostomy bag. I’ve got to be honest; it’s one month I won’t forget. I wouldn’t want to either, actually. Although I am sore and achy and still coming to terms with the changes I have had to make within the lifestyle I maintained before, I have learnt some pretty valuable lessons – which I couldn’t be more grateful for.

Going back to basics

This month has consisted of going back to basics; taking everything in small steps and slowly introducing things back into my life that I’ve never really had a second thought about before. I’ve had to learn how to go to the toilet in a new way, I have had to gradually introduce new foods to see what my body can and can’t cope with and I have had to learn how to change the bag. The frequent use of nappy sacks is making me feel like a toddler again!

Worrying about self-acceptance

To be honest, I don’t care about the new routine. I know I’ll get used to it. I know it will become such an insignificant part of my life that I won’t even think about it in the future. What I do care about – what I worry about – is self-acceptance. I gravitate between a field of emotions that I just cannot contain. Some days I wake up feeling motivated, powerful, like nothing in the world could possibly pull me down. Other days are filled with pain, exhaustion and shame, a feeling so much deeper than sadness that I just can’t seem to control.

Focusing on what matters

It’s funny, though, how little we focus on what matters until we’re forced to. Before my ileostomy bag, I was completely image obsessed. I’d spent my life counting calories and standing in front of the mirror grabbing at my stomach, despising the body reflected back at me. Now, when I look in the mirror and I can only see half of my stomach, whilst the bag covers the rest? I look back and I feel so angry at myself for not appreciating the body I consistently obsessed over before. I wish I’d made the most of my body before the bag, before the scarring. All I can do from this point on is love myself the way I should’ve. I know now that what matters isn’t on the outside – as cliché as that sounds - and that beauty really is skin deep.

Maybe my stoma bag will be the making of me

I’m only a month into my recovery and I’m already learning so much about myself. I’m finding things within myself that I didn’t know existed before – maybe they never did. Maybe my bag will be the making of me. Maybe it has brought out the best in me. All I know is that I feel lucky. I feel really, really lucky. Lucky to have a supportive family. Lucky to be re-discovering myself. Lucky to be living with an open mind. Lucky to be alive. And you know what? For once in my life, I really do feel alive. I feel free.

Things can only get better.

"Maybe my stoma bag will be the making of me... all I know is that I feel lucky" - Hattie Gladwell

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Have a look at Month 2 of Hattie's journey 

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by Hattie Gladwell

Hattie Gladwell

About the author

An aspiring writer and musician from West Sussex. Currently recovering from Ileostomy Surgery, I am going to be sharing with you my most inner thoughts and personal experiences which can also be found on the website I run, over at http://morethanyourbag.com.

Recent Comments

  • Diane

    I had surgery to remove a small area of bowel affected by diverticulitus in October last year. I came round from the operation OK but 6 days later I developed a fever and had to have emergency surgery. It was when I came round from this that I found I had a bag. It took me a while to come to terms with it and manage the daily routine. In April this year I went back in for a reversal but, unfortunately, ended up with an Ileostomy. I am finding it so much more difficult to cope with. Once again I had to have emergency surgery a week later as I had a double loop hernia. I still get a lot of pain but hope to have a reversal in July. This I am quite frightened of in case I end up with two operations yet again.

  • Elena

    This is proving to be one of the hardest years of my life. Last year I was worried I had bowel cancer. I had the colonoscopy I think it's called; camera inserted rectally. It was found I had inflammation; it looked quite gruesome but was told it would clear up with some depositories. I had been having a LOT of blood loss with my stools. The suppositories did not clear it up and I had another hospital appointment in May this year, 2015. I was again prescribed suppositories, and this time the bleeding stopped, although I was left very constipated but was prescribed meds for this. I was scheduled to have a 'follow-up' appointment in August, which I changed to today, the 18th September. I was actually going to cancel it and then finally decided I would show up for it; I told the consultant today that I was sorry if I was wasting his time, LOL. Then he proceeded to tell me I had Colitis. He didn't elaborate on the type etc. Told me I'd have it the rest of my life. Now remember, I was going to CANCEL this appointment!! I was 'gob-smacked' that it had taken SEVEN MONTHS to find out I had Colitis!! I WOULD NEVER HAVE KNOWN IF I'D CANCELLED MY APPOINTMENT. I feel exactly your sentiments, as I have already had to cope with and still am, the loss of all my teeth in June. I have dentures and they are awful. I am on my 3rd dental clinician, 2nd set of dentures and it's only been 3 months. They are so diabolical I can't eat right; talk right; laugh. So right now I'm feeling totally depressed but will come out of it; I will make sure I do. Sometimes life is just a bitch.

  • RoyAnn Caswell

    My 77-year-old mother had emergency surgery 5 weeks ago for severe intestinal pain. Diverticulitis was found in her small bowel with 12 inches of bowel removed, and now she has an ileostomy bag. She is dealing with the bag fine but has had frequent dry heaves and low energy and weakness. Is that a normal part of the recovery process? She is otherwise in good health with no other health problems other than mild high blood pressure. The surgeon and home health nurses think she is doing well, and continue to tell her to drink her fluids and eat small frequent snacks/meals. Thanks for any advice and thoughts on her situation.

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