Journey to my Permanent Ostomy – Part Two

Back at home, I was spoiled. My dad took on chef duty and my boyfriend took on listen to me whine and make sure I take all my pain meds duty. A couple days after I got home my aunt (who is a nurse) came to visit and lend the empathetic ear that only a nurse can lend. She also checked out my incisions to make sure things were looking okay and took on the joyous duty of cleaning my butt wound. My boyfriend was eager to learn how to take on this duty since she was only going to be visiting for a couple days. While my aunt and boyfriend cleaned the wound I constantly told them to be careful and was pretty nervous whenever they got to an area that was sensitive. In reality, my idea of where they were touching was pretty far off since I didn’t really know what the anatomy was like and the nerves were sensitive. I was really glad my aunt came to visit because my surgeon had not given me any wound care instructions. Being a wound in an area that’s exposed to toilets and which naturally harbors germs, it was important to me that we do everything to make sure it was kept clean and happy. The routine: 1. Dab the area with saline water and gauze to clean it. 2. Apply Neosporin on the actual wound/sutured skin area with a q-tip (for a couple days). 3. Apply A & D Ointment to the surrounding area. Why A&D, might you ask? The way they sewed me up was so I’d end up with a vertical scar where my butthole was and while the scar tissue/skin was still really swollen it was rubbing between my cheeks and causing some irritation. 4. Put non-stick gauze pads in between my butt cheeks to catch anything that might be leaking and keep all the ointments in place. The non-stick gauze was a lifesaver because it didn’t irritate the wound.

It took me a couple days to get the nerves up to look at my butt wound in the mirror. I’m not going to lie, I was horrified. It was huge and horrid looking and I still really had no idea where the stitches were. At this point, I think my initial freak out seeing my wound was pretty silly of me. One, no one is going to see that part of my body unless I expressly show them so really, who cares what it looks like (and what did I expect?). Two, it was still pretty swollen so it was kind of exaggerated.

The first few weeks were really painful. I didn’t want to take the hard pain relief drugs they’d given me so I spent the first week and a half after surgery trying to find a combination of pain relievers that was not too potent or addicting, but also worked. I don’t recommend doing that – just listen to your doctor and make sure they taper you off the hard stuff when it’s appropriate. It was a lot more painful than it needed to be. Shoutout to my boyfriend for setting an alarm in the middle of the night, waking up, making me food, and convincing me to take pain meds night after night. I don’t think I was the easiest patient so I hope he knows how much I appreciate him making sure I was taken care of. It felt like everything I did irritated the wound or hurt. As you can imagine, having a wound in between your butt cheeks would make sitting pretty uncomfortable. I tried to spend a lot of time horizontal on my side so that I wasn’t putting constant pressure on the wound because I didn’t want to impede blood flow. The hospital gave me a waffle cushion which I used in conjunction with a pillow for added cushioning when I wanted to sit up straight. Walking irritated my wound because your butt cheeks rub against it on every step. I think the best way to describe the pain is like a big paper cut down your butt crack. Ouch.

I spent much of the next 6 weeks watching Netflix, reading, using the computer and walking. Despite being in pretty good shape before my surgery, it was hard to have the energy to walk as far as I wanted to. I tried to go to a Qi Gong class a week after I got home but it was too soon. I managed to walk to the class (.3 miles), made it through half the class, felt pretty unwell, tried to walk home, and ended up laying down on someone’s front lawn and calling home for a ride. Fail. It’s hard to go slow when the rest of your body is capable of going fast. After my first surgery I was physically incapable of walking far so it was easier to listen to my body. After this surgery, I was physically capable, I just didn’t have the energy initially. Totally different patience requirements.

About 6 weeks out of surgery I was doing pretty well. I could sit on just the waffle cushion or on the Tush Cush I’d purchased for myself before surgery (it’s a little firmer, but offers some support and is supposed to be good for tailbone/sacrum support too). I went to dinner and forgot to bring my cushion but found that sitting on my jacket was plenty. At my follow up appointments my doctor commented that my wound was healing really well. I was surprised because I still had a lot of pain from the irritation all surrounding it but she didn’t seem to be concerned with that at all. While the A&D Ointment was helping a little bit, I emailed my ostomy nurse and asked if she had any suggestions. She said she usually tells people to use Boudreaux’s Butt Paste (easily found in the diaper rash section of many stores). It worked like a charm. Overnight relief.

My surgeon had said it would be about a 6-8 week recovery and I feel like that was accurate. My energy was the last thing to come back again and I took advantage of being given the opportunity to take it as slow as I needed to and really let myself heal. My wound healed without any issues. It’s completely closed like it should be and gives me zero problems. It shrank a lot and flattened out from when I saw it initially (thank goodness). It doesn’t irritate me at all. I can sit for long periods of time on hard surfaces and ride a bicycle and the only pain I have is from my bony butt. In fact, most of the time I forget that my butt is any different from anyone else’s. It’s completely a non-issue.

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