Happy 4-Year Stomaversary

Four years ago today on August 8, 2016 I had my colon removed.

Four years ago I started to learn how to live with my small intestine sticking out of my stomach.

Four years ago I began learning about pouches, leaks and angry red skin.

Four years ago I started to understand that food would never be the same for me.

Four years ago my life changed.

I will never ever regret having my colon removed. This decision saved my life.

But today, four years after having my colon removed, I am not celebrating.

Today the realities of living without a colon, a rectum, and only a partial small intestine hit hard.

I did not go on my planned four-hour stomaversary celebration bike ride.

Instead I woke up to debilitating pain in my small intestine. Pain that I equate to trying to “digest knives”.

Pain that has made me not ever want to eat again. Pain that reminds me that while I look healthy – I will never be fully healthy.

Pain that reminds me to not eat berries, apples, kiwi, plums, oranges, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, beans, celery, onions, peas, corn, eggplant, grapes, bananas, chocolate, nuts, seeds, butternut squash, salad, tomatoes, or pasta.

Pain that reminds me to never take anything for granted.

I nicknamed my stoma Reset.

Four years ago I was able to hit the reset button on my life. I’m forever grateful to the smart doctors and surgeons who gave me my life back.

But today is also a powerful reminder to never play fast and loose with this one life I’m given.

Marc and I celebrated our 16-year wedding anniversary on Friday, August 7.

How lucky am I? Extremely lucky.

A Fresh View

It’s 5:50 a.m. on a Monday morning. I got up at 3:45 a.m.

This new early morning routine is down to one thing – the pull of the water. This summer I’ve become hooked on swimming in the open water. A positive side effect of the pools closing has been discovering how much fun it is to swim freely without the boundaries of lane markers, change rooms, schedules, and chlorine.

But, I’m not swimming right now. I got up with a plan to swim. A lingering threat of lightening and a feeling of fatigue have kept me home. Going back to bed is not an option for me. Once I’m up – I’m up.

And in typical fashion, I wish I’d gone swimming. I know I’ll look at the photos from the beach and think “ah, I should have gone”. But I know the front porch and the early morning quiet is the right choice.

Here’s Tom’s photo of the view I missed earlier this morning:

A subtle tiredness washed over me last night as I fought the “head droops” while trying to watch a movie at 7:00 p.m. I was in bed by 8:00 p.m.

Old me would have gone swimming, ignoring the fatigue and this deep sensation of not feeling “great”. Some days I miss the old me – the one who pushed through workouts no matter what, had huge goals to propel me forward, and a deep sense of unfinished business.

The new me is trying to slow down the pace. I’m still active and staying busy but with a different purpose. Pure enjoyment and satisfaction. Being fully in the ride, swim, or moment and actually experiencing it. Letting go of the need to always do a long ride on Saturdays or to get in that weight workout when I’d rather be reading or to have a schedule that kept me ticking and regular.

Nadine’s photo of the morning that I missed (but will enjoy tomorrow):

At Loose Ends

I’m just going to come out and say it – I miss the before times.

I miss having plans. I miss being spontaneous. I miss seeing friends and family. I miss feeling at ease when I go to the grocery store.

I miss going mountain biking with my riding pal. I miss going for group rides. I miss sitting down in a restaurant for a meal with friends. I miss hugging (I know shocker – I’m not much of a hugger).

I miss the casualness of life.

I miss having plans.

I know I’m not alone in this. And I know that my experiences during the pandemic have been very easy compared to those of so many. I know I’m fortunate.

But, I still feel directionless. I know this feeling will pass and I’ll get my mojo back. But it’s a challenging place for me to be since I’ve always been very driven and motivated.

I Didn’t Ride Today

It’s Sunday and I didn’t ride. I planned to ride. I got my bottles ready. My food was organized. I ate a pre-long ride breakfast (peanut butter on two toasted crumpets and one  slice of bread with peanut  butter and honey).

And then I walked up the stairs and my  legs felt rotten, my head was heavy, and I was short of breath. I thought back to Saturday when after a normal three-hour ride I couldn’t shake an overall body fatigue that left me dragging all day.

I decided I didn’t want to feel like that today. So I went back to bed. I napped. I read my book. And finally made it downstairs at 11. Normally I’m up and out the door for my rides at 8:00 so I  can get lots done on a Sunday.

Not today. I made soup. I made waffles. I made chocolate mousse. I talked on the phone with my mom. I sat in the backyard and sketched. It was good. Just what I needed. I had thought about yoga and a walk but this did not happen.

Slowly I’m getting that I don’t need to ride simply because this is what I’ve always done. If I don’t feel awesome. I can take an extra rest day. It doesn’t matter if I’ve already had two rest days this week.

It’s okay if I don’t ride on a Sunday when the sun is shining and everyone I know is out riding their bikes. I’ll probably ride tomorrow. But if I don’t the sky will not fall and I will not lose all my fitness.

I’m even going to eat pizza for supper – even though I didn’t do a long ride and burn 2,000+ calories. It’s okay to eat pizza, to drink homemade iced coffee, and eat waffles for lunch on a day I don’t ride.

It’s okay to let go and be okay with it all.

 

Who Is Sick and Tired of Lunch At Home?

Me. I am sick and tired of lunch at home. Seriously, how many more lunchtime meals of omelettes, sandwiches, supper leftovers, cereal (admit it – you do it as well), soup, and leftover fridge stir-fries can you take?

In the before times I didn’t go out for lunch frequently. Maybe once a week, I’d leave my home office and meet a friend for lunch or zip out to a nearby sandwich shop for a wrap (somehow other people make better sandwiches).

If Marc was working from home and was heading out for lunch, I’d normally stay home. I probably said something like “I don’t need to go out for lunch. I have what I need here.”

Hmm, not anymore. What I would give for a lunch out, at a restaurant, sitting down, catching up with a friend or just sitting reading a book and dining solo.

I think today, I’ve hit my breaking point with the way life is now. Something just snapped when I realized that today will be like all the other days. Static. The same. Steady.

And yes, I’m very fortunate – I’m healthy, I have a job, my family is safe and healthy. But geez, would I ever like to meet up with my friend Joan for a lascivious lunch. And I’d really like to drive out to Bell’s Corners to meet up with Marc for a smoked meat sandwich and sweet potato fries. Seriously, how much longer until I can meet up with my friend Shari for an evening of chai lattes and talking?

Yes, today I’m done with all of it. But even with this state of mind, I’m staying in. I’m not riding my bike outside (yes, I’ve read the research, the chances of getting sick while outdoors is low – but this is not my primary reason for not riding outdoors. I wrote a whole blog post about Why I’m Not Cycling Outside). I’m not lining up to rush into stores that are now open. I’m sticking to what has kept me and Marc safe and healthy.

But, really it is getting tough. But, but – I do know things will get better. We will never return to the before times. And that’s probably a good thing.

Still – what I’d really like is to get on Ottawa’s dreaded light rail transit system (yes, it’s that bad now), wander around the National Art Gallery, browse the book store, drink a delicious Candy Cane White Hot Chocolate (with whip) from Second Cup, walk over to Nicastro’s for a sandwich, and then sit by the giant Ottawa sign in the Byward Market and watch the world go by.

This is what I would like. But until then, it’s toasted crumpets with butter, marmite and old cheddar with a side of leftover microwaved vegetables and looking out the window.