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Bye Bye Bowel

Well that came around quick. After 18 months of fighting a losing battle with my large bowel, it’s finally gone. On Thursday the 7th of February, I had a total proctocolectomy and a J pouch constructed from my small bowel. I’ve also had a temporary ileostomy created which will be used until the J pouch has healed enough to become functional sometime in the next 3 to 6 months. Basically, I’ve had my large bowel removed and will use a bag on my belly instead of going to the toilet until the ‘reversal’ procedure can happen.

Given the complications I had with recovery after my liver transplant, I really wasn’t sure what to expect, but the past few weeks have been fairly smooth. It’s certainly a pretty big adjustment having to look after my stoma (the part of my small bowel that poops into my bag), but once I got over the initial shock of seeing the weird little guy, it wasn’t all that bad. Really, the only problems I’ve had have been with getting a little too high on oxy during the first few days after surgery and getting a colostomy bag that fits properly. I think this admission was actually one of my shortest, being in hospital for only 7 days from my operation to discharge. I was even in a pretty good room too, with some great people who were as new to the whole stoma thing as me, making for some very open and pretty funny conversation.

Now that I’m home, I’m starting to get my strength back. Between Netflix binges and trying not to kill all my plants in Stardew Valley, I’ve been getting out for walks and getting slightly more active every day. It’s amazing how you can go from struggling to sit up in a bed to strolling to the local shops in just over a week. The mornings are still pretty tough, I think it’s to do with my pain meds wearing out overnight, but once I’ve been moving around for a while everything kind of smooths out. At this point, I’m still very glad I have another couple of weeks to recover before starting back at work but am also super relieved to be healing so fast.

Tomorrow I’ll have my first couple of outpatients appointments with stomal therapy and my gastro specialist, and I’m pretty keen to follow up and ask a few questions to gauge where normal is for me right now. With all of this being so new, there are still some changes that are happening that I don’t know whether to be concerned about, but talking to others in a similar position it seems like everyone has very different experiences with both stomas and J pouches. Right now though, I’m feeling very positive about the way everything has turned out. I can already see my quality of life improving. I can’t wait to see what happens once the post-op pain settles down. I know this is still just the start of a big year but with any luck it’ll set me up to have one heck of a 30th.

The best kind of bouquet!

Thanks again to everyone who has taken the time to reach out over the last few weeks. Your words of support and encouragement are incredible motivation, not only in my recovery but in continuing to be as open as I can be about my health. Diseases like Ulcerative Colitis and Crohns generally aren’t the sort of thing most people know a lot about unless they’re impacted directly, but it means a lot to anyone suffering with IBD to have people around who want to understand. I’m lucky to have you all in my life!


  1. Pam Baker

    Dear Chris, just scrolling through on my phone and came across counting on strangers. We had no idea the tough challenge that you have been up against.We send our heartfelt sincere thoughts and wishes for the best recovery. Much love from both of us Pete and Pam 🇬🇧💐😘😘

  2. Val Davison

    Chris I am so glad to hear that you are up and about so soon, exercise is a great healer and may you continue to get stronger everyday in preparation for that special birthday, your mum keeps me up to date but your blogs are so inspiring and entertaining hopefully a time will come when you will nothing to write about as your life has returned to normal whatever that is meant to be, keep at it son xxx

    • Chris

      Thanks Val! I hope so too, and I hope you’re doing well! It sounds like you’ve been smashing the exercise lately, can’t wait to get on your level!

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