My Name is Michelle
So here I am Michelle cutter, 37 from mid wales, a mommy to 3 girls and a wife. I want to share my journey with anyone who is facing or going through life with a stoma.
All of a sudden I couldn’t go to the loo, didn’t think much of it, everyone gets a bit constipated right! Some over the counter laxatives, nothing budged, after 2 weeks the local chemist refused to sell me anymore! Finally, I realized I would have to swallow my pride and book an appointment with my GP.
Filled with absolute embarrassment, off I went to explain I couldn’t do a number 2, I died a little more when she announced how she would examine me, that 2 minutes lay on my side was awful, I couldn’t hold back the tears. She agreed I was extremely constipated, she could even tell from pressing on my belly just how far I was back logged.
She prescribed me more laxatives and movicol, surly now that would see me on my way! this continued until 2013 backwards and forwards to the GP, we built up a good relationship, so on a visit when I broke down in her office she suggested referring me to a specialist, as she just didn’t know what else to do to make me go more than once a month.
By this time my life was a mess, I found it hard to get out of bed, I had no energy and felt so tired all the time, I struggled to dress, couldn’t eat much more than a sandwich a day as I was so full! My family suffered, my husband working full time and having to return home to clean the house cook the food and look after our children. My girls suffered as all they saw was mommy in pain and crying. It was hard watching my family falling apart and not being able to make everything better, it broke my heart to be like this.
The referral to the bowel consultant finally came, 3 moths later, the pain was worse and I was only going once every 6ish weeks and involved a lot of manual evacuation as I didn’t know what else to do.
Anyway for the visit I was hit with a long list of tests and possible solutions. Wasn’t very keen on the sound of some of the tests, they sound so undignified, but the only way to find what was going on in there. First was the colonoscopy, I was so sure and hopeful that this would show what was wrong with me after all a camera up inside the bowel will surly show everything. As I was drinking my big jug of picolax I kept reminding myself this will surly be the end of it all, it was hell I was actually on my hands and knees at mid night begging it to stop!
All cleared out, off I went nervous but hopeful, the test was stopped half way through, as the lady couldn’t get the camera any further as I was apparently still backed up. Off I went home disappointed so did a bit of my own research and thought maybe I had adhesions due to previous surgeries (ruptured Fallopian tube and ectopic pregnancy removal, appendix removal and 3 c sections) the consultant didn’t agree.
Next came the deficating proctogram, I googled this one after a brief explanation from the consultant. I was horrified, I cried and cried for 3 days, I didn’t want to be sat on a commode pushing out white porridge liquid from my butt whilst Someone took pictures of me doing so. My husband convinced me, so up came the big girl pants and off I went determined I wasn’t going through any more tests after this one and it would show what was wrong! Wrong again! All it showed was a small rectocele, nothing major enough to be causing my issues. Back to the drawing board and blood work, the whole time my health and bowel habits was getting worse, nothing laxative wise would work, I was just immune to them after taking them for too long.
I had no Crohns, no colitis, nothing. Meanwhile I was having trips backwards and forwards to a gynecologist, which resulted in a total abdominal hysterectomy in august 2016. For some reason I had convinced myself this would be my Miracle, again I was wrong. 2 weeks in to recovery everything went down hill even further. I was so full up I couldn’t put any food in, I couldn’t move without excruciating pain, didn’t get dressed, hell I didn’t even brush my hair or teeth anymore!
My belly was the size of an 8 month pregnant woman. My GP resorted to giving me tamazipam just so I could try to sleep. I was a crying dribbling in pain mess! Another appointment with the consultant, at which point I had given up, I had nothing left to fight with, as far as I was concerned my life was over, this was just how it would be forever, I was even convinced that seen as no waste was leaving my body I would eventually poison myself from all the toxins, and I’d die.
Another test suggested, a transit study test. I very reluctantly swallowed my thee little capsules of rings and went backwards and forwards of the coming days for X-rays. By the end of day 5 at the final x ray all of the rings I had swallowed (50) was still there! They hadn’t Scattered, they hadn’t moved down, they were all just there grouped together in the small bowel. At last a diagnosis “colonic inertia” I was so happy as I had started to think it was all in my mind and that there wasn’t anything wrong with me.
Excited I started my new tablet, was sure to work as now we knew what we were dealing with. I waited for my miracle, after 3 more long months, nothing had changed. That’s when my consultant hit me with the words “ileostomy bag”. I was devastated, scared and all of a sudden felt alone, the why me’s kept me awake every night until surgery.
Everyone I mentioned it to pulled a face and said “that’s such a shame you’re far too young for one of those” “awww you will be disabled now when you have that”. One friend even told me not to worry she would have my back and carry extra sprays so that I didn’t smell when we were out!
I think I blacked out any thoughts or emotions I had about having the surgery as I was full with even more dreadful thoughts after hearing my closest family and friends saying these things, I didn’t even know if I’d go ahead and have it done. But then I remembered how much my family was suffering and guessed it would help even if just in the pain front, I stocked up on baggy and maternity clothes in preparation for after surgery.
I had my surgery on May 11th 2017 after 5 long years the day was here! I cried, I was shaking, I even felt like walking out of the hospital and just going home. The minute I opened my eyes after surgery I smiled, I laughed, I was instantly pain free. My miracle had finally come! I was home the day after surgery, totally amazed, 100% happy, dare I say the old cliche….. a new woman.
Recovery was good a little uncomfortable as I started to heal but that was all. I just kept feeling better and better as everyday went past. I wasn’t even fazed when it was bag change time, mostly because I felt so much better thanks to this little bag hanging off my belly I just seemed to cope with it just fine.
4 months on ‘Chelle’ is back, I sing, I dance, I’m still smiling, I’m happy, I laugh (a lot), I have energy, I’m confident! All them baggy maternity clothes have since been binned, I’m so happy with my life and I’m a mommy and a wife again! I’m full of ambition for the future, my ultimate dream now is to become a model and blogger, I want to break the stigma, raise awareness show that life isn’t over, show how proud I am of my stoma, show how much life my stoma has given me and how proud I am of being an ostomate.
I have just started up a Facebook group, my ostomy bag and me, in the hope to pass on support to anyone struggling with having a stoma, I’m yet to encounter any hurdles and I’m sure there will be some along the way but right now I’m so happy with the life my stoma has given me it’s really not as awful as you may think it is.