Saturday, January 10, 2009

Two Year Anniversay

Yesterday, January 9, 2009 marks two years since I had bowel resection surgery. I had written a long piece concerning my experience in home recovery after bowel resection and I Googled that topic this morning, the essay was in the number one position on the first page of the Google sort. According to my daughters that means for that topic it receives the most "hits." I have no idea as I do not have a counter, nor do I receive replies. However, over the two years I have had about four people send me emails appreciating my communication. The essay is quite graphic and direct, but reflects information I wanted to know during recovery.

How is life now, two years after?

It is OK. I went through a period of losing weight, on purpose mind you. I walked an hour a day, watched what I ate and had the outcome of having a physician pronounce my Diabetic II diagnosis resolved. I reduced my blood pressure medications to one. I reduced my cholesterol medication to one. I did go through a scary episode of irregular heartbeats but learned to live with them and have gotten off all medication that I was on for a mis-diagnosis of atrial fibrillation. So one might say the benefits of the surgery to remove a cancerous polyp went far beyond being cancer free.

I am disappointed in myself at the current time. I have put back on 30 pounds of the 60 pounds I took off. I walk several times a week instead of daily. I wouldn't mind the reduced exercise if I could keep the weight off. I worry about getting myself back into type II Diabetes and having to get back on medication. Yet I find myself almost mindlessly stuffing my face with sweets.

Health-wise I seem to be doing well. My last check up indicated my cholesterol level was below 200, and the other cholesterol readings were all within the desired ranges. I will see my surgeon in about two weeks but don't expect anything other than you are doing well to be the outcome of that check up. The annual colonoscopy check on year after surgery was clear and the next check up will be this coming November. If this check up is OK then I will not need to be checked for five years. I did go through a small bowel obstruction episode in June 2008. That scared the hell out of me. Their appeared to be no reason for the obstruction, but it was a mentally defeating experience.

So how do I really feel. The surgical scars are fading. My bowels are beginning to act in what I feel are a normal fashion. I am somewhat surprised at the length of time and the feeling that healing is still going on. I have had bowel issues since surgery, not anything painful or scary, but issues with having to go numerous times along with not being able to have the sense of voiding completely so you felt like you had to go a few minutes after you went. More of an aggravation that an actual concern. I did have my gall bladder out nine months after bowel surgery. That has added to the digestive tract discomfort, although that seems to be getting better too.

For the most part I feel well. I have some muscle aches that are a little unnerving. They tend to be located along my rib cage on the right side in my back muscles. They don't hurt all of the time, but on occasion when I work outside they will cause me pain that might carry on for a day or two. I don't know whether to associate that with a side effect from surgery or just old age. Probably old age. The weight loss has allowed me to be more flexible and I am much more active in repairing things around the house much to the delight of my wife.

The psychological scars are also dimming, but I do find myself spending too much time thinking about things. The surgery, and the fact that a cancerous polyp was removed awakened the realization that I am going to die some day when I thought I had dealt with that issue and was comfortable with the idea. However, a dear friend of mine, a high school classmate I still stay in touch with expressed to me that thought is on his mind about his mortality. So perhaps it is a stage of life rather than some psychological impact of surgery. I am 64 years old and I am starting to see land on the horizon of this sea of life I've been crossing.

Most days are good. I do not walk around with a sick feeling like I did before surgery. I enjoy where I live and have been able to resurrect my interest in doing house repairs and projects. I have a great appreciation for keeping in contact with my two daughters, I find their lives to be of great interest to me and their welfare precious. Life is good, my wife and I still have jobs in this time of economic recession. Our home is almost paid for, and I've negotiated a good refinancing contract with the local bank on our investment property. I do not want for material items and can afford most of those items that fall into the category of "toys."

So there is life after surgery. I do not know that my internal worry meter is any greater today than it was several years ago. The passage of time seems to move at a quicker pace than my younger years, but that is OK too. I am thankful for the skill of the surgeon and the support of my family through this recovery period. I do not consider myself completely recovered because I still encounter or notice improvements or a settling down of my body's functions and actions. If anyone has followed my writing on this topic because they are going through the same things I wish them Godspeed and I hope their outcome is as successful as mine appears to be.

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