Latter-day Jane

A happy diversion of life, love and sisterly advice for Jane Austen fans everywhere. [There is no charm equal to tenderness of heart. -Jane Austen]

I pooped my pants: the story continues

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i pooped my pants: the day Merida was born

The day she was born, I would not touch her. I found it hard to even look at her. She was rather small, bright pink, a little scrunched, and angry-looking. I didn’t feel a connection – didn’t feel she was mine. I didn’t want her.

I was so wrapped up in my own pain, I begged the nurses to tend her. I just couldn’t do it. And although I did not rejoice in her, I instinctively knew that she deserved a name. So a name I gave her.

Merida.

I had seen the animated film Brave before her birth, and felt I could relate to this courageous heroine with the unruly red hair. The Princess of DunBroch stood as a reminder of strength, hope, and stalwart resolve in the face of adversity. Those were the attributes I needed – Merida needed – to move forward.

Disney/Pixar's Princess Merida

Disney/Pixar’s Princess Merida

Merida was my stoma – a section of my small intestine that had been brought out through a hole made in the right side of my abdomen, and sutured all around. There was nothing in my stomach when she first started doing her job, other than the occasional sip of water. Still, she spat droplets of yellowish clear liquid into the protective plastic bag that was stuck with adhesive putty to the skin all around her. I’m here, she wanted me to know.

I’m here, and I’m doing exactly what you need me to do.

There would be no more pooping. Rather, my waste wouldn’t come from my rectum anymore. It would come through Merida. Everything I ate would be vetted and funneled right through her, a pencil-width opening in my side.

stoma body

I hadn’t planned to have my entire large intestine removed so soon, or at all, if I could help it. I was a fighter. I had fought for three years already, and I was determined that something out there could turn this around. On any given day, they could find a cure for the debilitating Ulcerative Colitis from which I suffered.

But my options were thinning. I had tried less-invasive medications, taken both orally and by enema. I had been prescribed immunosuppressive drugs – basically an attempt to put a muzzle on my rogue soldier of an immune system. I had tried month after month of Prednisone, which turned me into a jittery beach ball of a woman who suffered from hot flashes. I had shared treatment wings with cancer patients, and as they were given their chemo, I was given infusions of a biologic drug called Remicade. I had tried Humira. I had altered my diet – several times. Obstinately, I had even tried not eating our drinking at all, which quickly got me into a dehydrated mess. Still, I didn’t want to give up.

But when one of my doctors suggested I meet with a colorectal surgeon to prepare myself for the possibility of a worst-case-scenario, I knew it was the responsible thing to do. And although I was wary as I entered the surgeon’s office a couple of weeks later, something she said reached me.

“How’s your quality of life?” she asked.

I thought about the hours spent in the bathroom, the fear of leaving home on particularly bad days, the excruciating 16 trips to the toilet each day, where, despite the diarrhea, the searing pain made me feel as though I was digesting and processing a large quantity of jagged shards, in preparation for giving birth to some kind of blown-glass-masterpiece through my anus. Sometimes, I would sit there and no stool would come out at all. Instead, I clenched my fists, my face a mess of pain, as blood rained in the toilet.

“Not great,” I admitted.

“How’s your pain?” she pressed.

I thought of the times when I curled up on the bathroom floor, trying to pick out patterns in the linoleum as though searching the skies for shapes in the clouds. I thought of the times I sat on the toilet crying, begging my body for a reprieve so I could save up strength for the next episode. I thought of hot water baths and my daily use of a heating pad, draped over my abdomen.

“On a scale of ten?” I offered. “I’m not even sure. It’s painful. Sometimes, it’s very painful. I get through it, though. I’m here.”

My explanation was weak. The surgeon gave me a look that said she had heard this speech before.

“We really have to watch out for our IBD patients,” she said, “because you acclimate yourselves to high levels of pain, and you convince yourself each new increment is your new normall. If I picked a random, healthy person and gave that person your symptoms and your pain, they wouldn’t be sitting here talking with me right now. They would be lying in bed, unable to move. More than likely, they would be in the hospital. It’s doubtful they’d be able to function much at all.”

I thought about that. Never had my pain been put in perspective in such a real way. And by the end of that appointment, I knew.

My time had come. Merida’s time was soon approaching.

{This story will continue…}

Looking for the first in the “i pooped my pants” series? Here it is. 


 Like Downton Abbey? Jane Austen? Then you’ll love Longbourn. I’m giving away an autographed copy. Enter here.

Longbourn contest promo


This is the second in a series about my struggle with autoimmune disease.

Worldwide, an estimated five million people live with Inflammatory Bowel Disease. In the United States, approximately four people out of every thousand suffer from Ulcerative Colitis or Crohn’s. Millions more suffer from other autoimmune diseases. Whether you realize it or not, you likely know someone fighting in the trenches.

For more information about IBD, visit:

The Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America

The Mayo Clinic

 

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Author: latterdayjane

www.latterdayjane.com

2 thoughts on “I pooped my pants: the story continues

  1. Your story is so similar to when Betty was born. I did not want to touch or look at her, asking the nurses to change her. However they were not giving her the attention she needed. And I was obligated to take care of here.

    Liked by 1 person

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