A significant decision

If you had told me 9 weeks ago or even 4 weeks ago that I would be writing this post 10 weeks after surgery I would have laughed in your face and said never – So, here goes.

I went to see my consultant yesterday, just the routine follow up, post-surgery visit.

For the first 5 minutes we discussed how I was feeling, I talked about the leaks, the change of bag and my returning confidence. He looked at my stoma and said that all was good. I asked about restarting jogging/running and he said yes, but start slowly.

Then he said.

So what about the reversal?

We embarked on what in ‘TV political reporting parlance’ would be called a ‘full and frank exchange’

At several points in this conversation he reminded me that any decision I made was not final.

He set the scene by outlining that my surgery had been lifesaving.

That the reversal was still major surgery that would require several weeks of recovery.

I then asked some questions about possible outcomes and the possibility of success.

He said that success could not be guaranteed and that possible issues could include:

Finding that when they went back in to my abdominal cavity there was an issue with part of my colon and the reversal was not possible.

When I was joined up, there is no way during surgery to check for leaks as your abdominal tract has been purged of it’s contents. Therefore, leaks can only be discovered, post-surgery, when things start moving again. These leaks can be problematic and again, at the worst end of the spectrum lead to another operation to reverse the reversal.

Problematic or non-return of bowel function!

There was no guarantee that post reversal the twisting of my bowel would not reoccur. While they knew it was a mechanical issue, they did not know the underlying cause of the twisting. If it was to reoccur then the operation to resolve it would in all likelihood remove the rest of my colon and leave me with an ileostomy which requires far more management and lifestyle changes.

My own research had revealed the first three points but not the idea of a return of the twisting.

Then it was my turn to layout where I was coming from.

My current situation did not require huge lifestyle changes. I could work, run, drive, drink and generally eat what I wanted.

My bowel function has at times been ‘problematic’ in a way that has seen me having emergency craps behind bushes or down an alleyway. This has been resolved with the bag.

I am a 56-year-old bloke with elevated blood pressure and cholesterol who doesn’t enjoy hospitals. I view hospitals in the same way as parachutes – only to be used in emergencies – when your life or health is at risk.

At a certain cognitive level, the reversal is ‘cosmetic’ surgery – I don’t need it, it won’t save my life and it could make things worse.

Last week I wrote about how my ‘head’ was coping and I said that since it was temporary it wasn’t too bad. But, at the back of my mind was the thought that – from a head point of view the worst place for me, would be going in to an operation thinking I would be bag free. Then waking up to a new stoma/bag and starting again. Or having some of the issues that were outlined above that did make life worse.

So, we discussed all of these and then he said.

‘What do you want to do?

I said.

‘I don’t want a reversal.’

It’s a positive decision that I am making about my body, my mental wellbeing and my quality of life. It’s not a brave decision, it is a logical decision, based on the ‘balance of probabilities’.

I can reconsider in the next 24 months if events or my stoma changes. I can ring my consultant’s secretary and speak to one of his registrars about where I am at.

My choice, my decision.

I said right from the start that my stoma would not dictate my life.

I can concentrate on what is important to me, Gill, my photography/writing, getting back in to running (slowly) and my new job.

Thanks for reading

Take care


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A 50 something film and digital photographer based in Kendal, Cumbria. Blogging about mental health, mental wellbeing, living with a colostomy and music memories.

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