Posted in Personal Blogs

My Last Poo

This is a hard post for me to share to the world; it is quite disgusting in places and i’ve tried to make it light hearted, but it’s also very real, and that’s why I think I need to share this story.

March 2019 – I had tried every single medication possible for colitis, I had my appointment with my gastroenterologist where we discussed my next step, surgery. I was prepared, I knew it was coming and thats what I wanted, I felt like I had give every medication my best shot and now it was time. I left with a fake stick on stoma, bags to practice using and a tonne of information, knowing sometime in the next few months I would be called in to have my bowel removed.

One night a few weeks after this appointment, I just fell suddenly unwell, I was vomiting and had the worst diarrhoea I had ever had, which is saying something because I hadn’t had a formed stool in 3 years. I was in so much pain it was honestly excruciating. My Mam and Dad had been on holiday and luckily they had just arrived back that night, we called 111 and got asked to go into A&E.

I had been in hospital a few times prior to this, always either going in via A&E or going to a routine appointment with the consultant and being kept in, so therefore I always had a hospital bag packed. My little bag which I could grab quickly packed for a couple of nights admission. I can remember thinking I wonder if this is it, will I need the operation today?

This night was also the night when I realised my boyfriend, Connor, was the real deal. I mean, I already knew this but after being together for less than a year watching him clean my shit up from my Mam and Dads landing when I could barely stand up and make my way to the toilet any more, I thought to myself i’ve got a good’en. That was it, my last ever poo at home, on the upstairs landing.

I somehow made it to the hospital with no accidents, to be greeted by the usual tests and nurses and doctors and a million questions. I was really grateful for the anti-sickness tablets but that didn’t stop the diarrhoea. I jumped out of my own little room and ran into the centre pod where all the nurses and doctors were sat, desperate for the toilet, and at that moment my bowel just gave up. I was stood frozen solid, Connor had come up behind me and I just stood there. The doctor came over and said ‘Do you need the bathroom, do you feel sick?’ I just looked round at Connor and then down at the floor. The puddle of diarrhoea around my feet was growing and I couldn’t physically stop. The doctor looked and the moment of realisation hit and he just went ‘Ohh diarrhoea’. It’s one of those moments we laugh about hysterically now, but at the time I was mortified. I was going to be known as the girl who shit herself in the middle of A&E.

That was it, my last poo in Cumbria, on the floor of A&E.

I got given the diagnosis of Gastroenteritis that night, a measly bug which had left me feeling dead, and from there I left my local hospital and was transferred to my Gastroenterologist and surgical team at the RVI, 96 miles away.

Due to being branded with Gastroenteritis, which was basically like the plague in hospital, I was given my own little room and luckily a commode at the RVI and I spent 6 nights recovering from the bug before I was wheeled in for surgery. They couldn’t operate whilst I was poorly as my body would be too weak and also as I wasn’t classed as an emergency I had to wait and take each day as it came and wait for a surgical slot to come free. Each morning I would be nil-by-mouth incase I was on the list that day, and after 6 days the morning came! That was it, my last poo ever and it was on a commode.

The morning of my surgery

I can remember that morning my Mam, Dad, Connor and brother Harvey came to wish me luck and I was wheeled off at around 11.30am. I opened my eyes again around 7.30pm in the High Dependancy Unit, pumped full of morphine and just coming round from anaesthetic I can’t really remember that much. I didn’t even think about my operation and it was a good few hours until I actually remembered why I was there and checked to see if everything had gone to plan. I wasn’t phased at all when I looked down at my stoma, i’m not sure if thats just because I was high as a kite or because I had done so much research and knew exactly what to prepare myself for when this time came. I was ready for a whole new adventure and life with my ileostomy and my first night of not having to worry about needing a poo.

Posted in Personal Blogs

Working with IBD

One thing i’m going to start off by saying is thank goodness I didn’t suffer with Ulcerative Colitis throughout my school years, that is one thing I am thankful for.

I was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis when I was 19 years old, and by that point I was working full time. This came with its own pressures, holding down a job whilst having numerous hospital appointments and also studying for a degree part time.

My company who I worked for from the start of my diagnosis supported me so much, I never shied away from informing them what was going on and because they knew the whole picture I believe thats why I got the support I did. It’s peoples own choice whether they want to inform their employers about their condition, but for me I spend the majority of my time at work, they should know about my disease!

I told my friends at work everything, why not? I spend 8 hours a day sat beside them, they were there on my bad days, seen me in the morning after I’d had a bad night and seen me rushing to the loo 10 times a day. For me it was only right to tell people, it also helped me to know that people knew if I went to the toilet 5 times in a couple of hours it wasn’t because I was slacking off, or if I needed to rush out of a meeting I couldn’t help it. To help awareness of Crohns and Colitis in the office too I often did cake sales to raise money and put up information sheets.

Ulcerative Colitis really affected my career in the last couple of years. My job entailed site visits and meetings which were around a 20 minute drive away from my office. Not only was that a problem was you had to get buses on and off the site unless you had a valid reason for your own car and a solo driver, I luckily received a pass due to medical reasons after I had a few embarrassing moments waiting for the bus. Let’s just say i’m glad I had a plastic bag and tissues in the car and leave it there. I didn’t want to go, I put off going to site and meetings and I was so stressed and anxious every time I had to go.

I gained my Foundation Degree, but my top up to an Honours Degree which I was doing part time took a hit too. College days often landed on my infusion days at hospital, which was a problem. At one point I was having a 4 hour infusion every two weeks, therefore missing half of my college. When I went in for my operation I missed so much college and due to this I didn’t get the grades, therefore still on my last year now!

My health always came first though. There is nothing more important than your health.

Since having my ileostomy surgery in March 2019, I am proud to say I haven’t had one single day off sick, which is massive for me. I am able to travel, I can sit in meetings for hours and hours without worrying, and recently I have managed to get a new job! This for me is huge, I could not have imagined doing an interview with active Ulcerative Colitis, having my first day with new people and a total new office, not knowing where the toilets were. But, with my stoma all this was a walk in the park! I am so proud of myself for everything I have achieved in this past year with my stoma, but this just tops it.

There are information sheets available on https://www.crohnsandcolitis.org.uk which are really useful for advice with working with IBD but also information sheets available for employers, to provide them with information on how to deal with and understand employees with IBD.