So let’s start near the beginning of your stoma journey; pre op. Some people go into hospital knowing they’re having a stoma created, some people are rushed in with no warning whatsoever. I was kind of in-between; I was in hospital for a week before my surgery and two days before I had the surgery, there were rumours I might have surgery so they prepped me a bit just in case. It’s safe to say that it was worth while them prepping me for it!
Because I had a day or so to get used to the idea of a stoma, the hospital did a few things to help me.
I got to meet my stoma nurses two days before my surgery and this actually really helped me. They spent the afternoon with me explaining the surgery to me and what life will be like. They gave me lots of leaflets and came back the next day to answer all my questions and learn about the bags.
I asked my stoma nurses a lot of questions pre surgery (here’s a post I did just after I came out with some of those questions) and they patiently went through them all. It was invaluable and if you have the chance to meet them beforehand, I really recommend it!
Because I had the time, Jill (my stoma nurse) used the time to draw where my stoma might be. I got to help choose where the ideal place would be based on where I wear my trousers. It wasn’t a given that they’d be able to place my stoma here (luckily they did!) but being apart of the process really helped.
The day before my surgery, I also got to practice putting bags on. I think this really helped me be okay with changing bags. I already knew the process pretty well before I had to do it on myself and worry about poo going everywhere! First, I practiced on a dummy (like the first aid ones but this had a stoma!) and then I practiced on myself! Ironically, the last day of not having a stoma I was wearing a bag trying to get used to it!
I definitely think these small things really helped me come to terms with what was about to happen (although it was still difficult).
There were also things pre op which I think everyone has to do (if I’m wrong, please let me know!). These things weren’t quite as handy, but very necessary!
I always get really freaked out by consent forms; it’s like signing your life away! Consent forms are what they sound like, consenting to the surgery you’re about to have. The scary bit is that they go through everything which could possibly go wrong. As someone with anxiety and a major fear of surgery, you can see why I particularly don’t like them.
Enema’s are never nice. The nature of having bowel surgery means your bowel has to be empty before you go. I was given an enema about half an hour before I went down and as uncomfortable as they are they’re kinda necessary. If you’re having stoma surgery, it’s likely that you’re already used to running to the toilet so that bits not too bad! (I mean, it is, but you’re kinda used to it)
Like every surgery, you have to go nil by mouth and not eat or drink anything. I was a morning surgery so I couldn’t eat from about 8/9pm and then no drinks after midnight. For me, the no drinking part was the worst because I was so thirsty! I didn’t have much of an appetite but still, I was hungry! The night before surgery there were three energy like drinks which you had to drink (and then another three in the morning). They taste disgusting; I found them way too sweet and I gagged so many times. As far as I’m aware, the point of them is to give you energy throughout the surgery and the day after. Sadly, I have no advice to make them taste better, if you do though, please leave your tips in the comments below.
There’s no way to sugar coat it, the night before surgery is scary. Both times, I have cried a lot and before my second surgery even told my mum to take me home (she didn’t and made me stay!). It’s normal to react this way; I always think worst case scenario which in this case really isn’t the best thing to do. There’s no magic cure to get over that fear either. For me, I just remember the why. Why I’m having my surgery. I try my best to think positivly and think of what I’m going to be able to do post surgery once I’m recovered. Surgery is scary, there’s no two ways around it, but don’t beat yourself up for feeling scared and emotional.
Tell me in the comments : What was your pre op like? What were/are your biggest worries?