A Very Personal Story of Courage Part 2
My Recovery and……Impatience!
I wanted my operation over and done with. The weekend before my operation I watched the Great Manchester Run take place on television, a very close friend was running and seeing her on the TV made me even more determined that the operation was not going to put a halt to my running.
I went into hospital the day before my op for all the preparatory tests, was prodded and poked and felt frightened out of my life. If I had had my trainers with me I would most likely have run away there and then! I remember my husband having to leave me in the ward, I cried and cried when he left, I felt so alone and was already missing my two children. I had been told that I would recover in the High Dependency Unit due to the serious nature of my op. The morning of 24th May arrived, the day of my op – I was first on the list for theatre – we had been told the op would take several hours. I remember being wheeled to theatre … the next thing I remember is my consultant standing by my bed saying everything had gone to plan and I was doing really well. My hubby visited that evening but I was completely out of it on painkillers and anaesthetic.
The next day I realised that I wasn’t in the HDU – the doctor on the ward round told me that the operation had gone so well they didn’t need to put me there, but that I would be recovering on a normal ward. So, a positive in all this! I recovered steadily, was shown how to deal with my colostomy bag, which I had been told I would need for about 3 months when it would be reversed, after my bowel had healed from the surgery. I met some lovely people, patients and NHS staff, during my stay, including a girl I made friends with. We became very close but she died from cancer in June 2008 – she always told me how proud she was of me for getting back out there and running – she remains in my thoughts and is an inspiration to this day.
We had been told that I would need to be in hospital for 12-14 days. Two days after my operation I was walking up and down the ward and the hospital corridors – I had taken some running magazines in with me and these helped to keep my motivation to get better going. On day 9 after my op my doctor said “what are you doing lying on one of our beds? You’re well enough to go home!” He said my level of fitness had helped enormously and I would be better off at home. I was so, so happy and left hospital that day armed with a stock of painkillers that would have sunk a battleship! Oh – and a warning from the doctor not to try running too soon!
It was such a wonderful feeling to be back home.
The next day the District Nurse came to remove my staples – I had a very large wound running from just above my navel all the way down my stomach and of course my colostomy bag. I slowly started eating again, and was also given some special protein drinks to help build me up – I had lost a lot of weight during my time in hospital – I had not been allowed to eat two days before I went in and only started eating again the day before I came out – that’s a long time without food!
I had some lovely summer weather to sit in the garden and recover. I wanted to run but just didn’t have the confidence to.
The biopsies had shown the cancer had been removed before it had a chance to spread!! In July I saw my consultant. I would have to go for a special x-ray to make sure my bowel had healed properly, they would then remove the bag. I had the x-ray at the end of August and had to wait for a date for the op to remove the bag. In the meantime I had returned to work part-time. I was given dates, twice, but both times the operation was cancelled, which was so, so frustrating – getting back to running seemed to be getting further and further away.
Finally, at the beginning of December I went in for the op. It worked! I have never seen a nurse so pleased that somebody was passing wind – it meant my bowel was working properly! Back on sick leave from work, (I was working as a Special Needs Teaching Assistant), we spent a quiet family Christmas. I had been scared that I wouldn’t see Christmas – no matter how much the doctors tell you everything will be OK when you been told you have cancer there’s always a lingering doubt.
My thoughts turned to the New Year and getting back out running. I had really missed it, felt restless and was totally envious if we went out and saw people running and just wanted to be doing the same thing. Hubby told me to be patient – not easy when you haven’t be able to do something you want for 8 months! But I had no choice.
Come the New Year, 2007, I needed a plan. I have a very good friend in Olympian Liz Yelling and with the support of R4W, my family, friends and a training plan from Liz, dusted off my running shoes and was ready to go!
Next time – getting back out there!