The first day the stoma nurses changed my stoma for me. It was horrible and I cried. Mum was there at the time and I think the physiotherapists were also around as they wanted to get me out of bed, but this took priority so they came back later on.
There’s three stoma nurses at Colchester General: Jen, Emma and Karen but I can’t remember who it was I saw that day. They were so nice and didn’t expect me to do anything, although to be honest I didn’t know what to do. The most painful part was pulling the pouch away from my skin. My tummy was so sensitive and the skin was so sore as she pulled it away, but she assured me it wouldn’t aways be that sore, it was just because it was so soon after surgery. Nothing a quick fix or morphine didn’t fix though!
When I first saw what my stoma looked like underneath the bag I just cried. I’d been told it was normal for it to be bright red, as that meant it was healthy and had a good blood supply, but I had no idea what to expect. I’d never seen a small intestine before, but it grossed me out so I just covered my face until was all done.
Thinking back it wasn’t weird when the nurses changed the bag for me whilst I was in hospital, but now it feels like having a nappy changed at the age of 22. At the time I didn’t do much because part of me was still in denial that all this was true, but I knew I needed to change the bag and empty it myself in order to start accepting the fact it was real and I wasn’t going to wake up to find out it was all a dream, as much as I wished it all was.
The nurse changed it all so quickly, it was over in a couple of minutes, and then the physios decided to pounce. They wanted to give me some breathing exercises and get me sitting in the chair and out of bed but that was a bit difficult with the tubes in my face. I got one of the nurses to remove the NG tube and it was horrible. It felt like I was choking, but I knew I wasn’t. Again, I was told to breathe normally but that’s a bit hard when you have a tube scraping the inside of your throat! The tubes were out in no time though, and I was soon in the chair practising my coughing and breathing. I was told to support my tummy if it was too sore – this is still something I do now and it really helps to relieve any pressure.
Later that day when I was back in bed the nurse removed the arterial line from my neck. I’ve now got two tiny scars from where it was. I found it hard to believe at first but I had four stitches from the two tubes. I didn’t think it was possible to need four stitches from two tiny tubes because when I’d had an operation on my hand the previous year I only had five stitches then. But then again, the tubes did go right into my jugular so I suppose a coupe of stitches was needed to hold the tubes in place. In both cases though, the scars are hardly noticeable now. As you can see from the picture, it’s really hard to see them. I had two stitches in each place in the photo on the left, and five stitches along the pink line in the photo on the right. What’s a few more scars hey!