Chapter 7 Another day in surgery!

Here we go again, winter knocking at the door, just getting better and a decision has to be made. I am now able to get surgery to reverse the colostomy and get the bowel behind a net and so get rid of the hernia. When I think about it now, it sounds stupid but I really thought about giving up and stay as I was at the time… i.e. looking like pregnant with a bag on the side but I was scared go going back in a surgery block. The perspective of having been through all that to die in a non-vital surgery seemed an unnecessary risk. On the other hand, I also knew that this was a prerequisite if I wanted to go back in normal life mode.

After long reflection, I made the decision to go and book the surgery but with one mandatory factor, having the surgeon who operated me in emergency last time i.e. the one who successfully saved my life one year before! It took some convincing as he is the head of abdominal surgery and usually works more complex operations but he eventually accepted the job. I needed this to get some confidence! All is planned for second half of December.

Between that decision and the surgery itself, I benefited from an opportunity to apply for a promotion at work and went for the interview. Fortunately for I work for a company that takes care of people and my line accepted for me to apply and my health condition, clearly and openly disclosed, has not been a blocker for me to go through the process. In the same spirit, Robert Gordon University did show flexibility in terms of delivering my end of module work for my MBA. I keep thinking that when we are supported by the family, work and others in your environment, obstacles are so much easier to go through as you can focus on what is really crucial and also you get help from friends to cheer you up! I still remember the flowers and cards I received all along that year…

As mentioned earlier, I started to change my environment and the roof on my terrace has been built right the day I left for the hospital (how does memory work!)… I got hospitalised and went to the surgery block four hours earlier than planned… Caught off guard and so no time to worry too much… Epidural in place, count to ten (yeah right… Three if lucky…) and after that so glad to open my eyes in the wake-room!!! Now let’s wait and keep fingers crossed for a couple of days that bowel transit will resume. Guess what, when the surgeon threatened me to go for the gastric probe, it magically happened 🙂 and so it was all a question of waiting till we stop the morphine and I can walk again. My tummy was wrapped really tight and so for two months. So as planned I was back home for Christmas. I then started to think, ok keep cool for year end break, look at the snow falling and just go to hospital to check the scars on a weekly basis.

Looks like I have been over optimistic as the day before Christmas, I felt that my bandage was really wet and when I looked at it, I almost fainted, it was red! My father did drive me to the ER with my wife… When I saw how fast they were moving, I quickly understood it was not too serious! It was accumulation of seroma leaking from the main scar. They decided to keep me at the hospital for the week-end in observation but with exemption so that I could spend some time with the whole family and thus have family dinner, thanks to the haematologist who gave me that opportunity.

All in all, this experience was much better than expected as all intestinal components were back in place and I was looking almost back to normal at least abdominally speaking! Nevertheless I still had to deal with all the rest, mask, diet, etc… and so till April. April was a cornerstone as it was the transplant anniversary and was supposed to also mark the decrease of the immune suppressors and other medics weakening me. All quarterly tests were ok and so I moved from weekly to monthly visits in hospital and each months the amount of chemicals in my body was decreasing, my immunity and energy was going up, my diet was becoming less strict and so I was under the impression that I could see the light at the end of the tunnel.

On top of this, it came with the great news that I passed my MBA exams and also got a new job starting in February 2011. All was there to see life positively again. We left Belgium to go on leave in Aix-En-Provence with the whole family visiting friends for a week. It was a real relief to go back on holidays with the four of us but of course being really prudent and complying to all the rules I have to follow. We even went in July in Paris for a long week-end and it was fantastic… Till we came back!

Back in Belgium I could feel there was something wrong and made the point to go to day care hospital to see the haematologist and check what is happening. They quickly identified a GVH which will become a real pain… This will be the subject of the next chapter as this will induce again changes in my life and even some regression!

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