Friday, 25 January 2013

7. The countdown begins

Did you notice the big black countdown timer to the right hand side of the blog? So my date for the operation has been set; 20th Feb 2013. I am quite happy about this since it is a month within the 12 week NHS target and it affords me three months of recovery time before I go on a wee holiday to Arran, one of my favourite Scottish islands.

Some gentle 'nudging'

I was beginning to wonder if I was ever going to receive a letter to confirm my op date; time seems to slow down when you want something to happen quickly! So I decided to phone the appointments department for general surgery at the hospital. After about 7 or 8 minutes and three call redirects I got through to the right person and they confirmed I was on the waiting list but no date set yet. At this point I was thinking that I might have been wasting my time, that I'd just have to wait for the 'machine' to go through its process. But I was pleasantly surprised when the girl on the other end of the line said she was personally going to chase this up and call me back to let me know when she'd spoken to the surgeon to confirm when he could perform my operation. "So will you call me back today?" I asked. "I'll try to speak to the surgeon today, but if I can't it might be a couple of days" she replied. I thanked her, but I have to say I didn't necessarily think she would deliver on her promise so I politely asked her name -  I find this sometimes helps to speed things along when dealing with medical administrative staff :-).

What I wasn't prepared for was to receive a return call from the kind young lady within 10 minutes! She confirmed to me that the procedure would be on 20th Feb, that I'd need to attend a pre-admissions appointment on 11th Feb and that I should expect to be in hospital for 5-7 days. She'd prepare a letter to confirm that would be in the post in due course. The relief was amazing, suddenly I wasn't wondering if I'd been forgotten about; the date was set and I could properly begin my planning. It just shows, a little nudge in the right direction can get things moving along.

So what's next?

Well I need to meet again with the stoma nurse to discuss various things including identifying the preferred location for my stoma. I have been seeking advice from some fellow ostomates recently via the Crohns forums and gotten some tips such as making sure it is far enough away from my belly button that the sticky part of the ostomy bag won't overlap (this would be a point where leakage and subsequent skin irritation could occur). I am also keen to make sure there is a proper 'spout' shape to it which also minimises the chances of skin irritation. I have bit of a decision regarding the clearance from my belt line; I'd like it to be above this but unfortunately not all trousers are at the same height. I've noticed that my more formal trousers sit higher than my jeans, so I think I'll want it sitting above my jeans belt line, but probably settle for wearing braces and a larger waist size for my more formal trousers.

After this will be a pre-admissions appointment on 11th Feb, which I think is a consultation to establish that I am fit enough to have surgery (I bloody well hope I am!). I don't see the point of this right now but I'm sure all will become clear.

Then I'll be admitted to hospital on 19th Feb and it will be no turning back. No doubt I will have to drink a gallon of 'Movi-prep' laxative solution to clear me out before the op. I have had 4 colonoscopies (camera up the rear end) but despite my level of experience, the Movi-prep stage never gets any better - actually it gets worse since I know just what it means (running to the toilet every 5-10 mins for hours on end whilst the gut literally washes clean). But it will be worth it.

I believe I'll be on the operating table on 20th Feb for something like 6-8 hours. It would normally take about 3 or 4 except that I will be having my large bowel removed 'laproscopically' (AKA by 'keyhole' surgery). This takes a bit longer but leaves only a couple of small scars rather than a 6-8 inch scar down the middle of my belly.

All in all I'm looking forward to having had the op, though I am a little apprehensive about the procedure itself. As I will be in hospital for 5-7 days I have been thinking about what I might do during this time (apart from writing a certain blog!). I have decided that I don't watch enough films, so I'll be loading some onto my wee tablet computer.

With a bit of luck I will have a reasonably quick recovery; who knows, I might even be able to play some golf on my holiday to Arran.

"I can't change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to get to my destination" - Jimmy Dean.

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