I missed it. #Worldostomyday happened and I missed it. The perfect opportunity to celebrate triumph.
There are two big reasons why I didn't want to miss it, but as most Ostomates can attest to, you cannot beat the fickle finger of fate. It was intently challenging me to a duel last week!
World Ostomy Day is an opportunity for those with an ostomy to celebrate the challenges they have faced and the achievements of overcoming them. We all have 'our story' to tell, and so having a set day in the calendar allows us to reflect on that story; the highs, the lows, the successes and those who have helped us through it. We are all #Warriors in our own right.
World Ostomy Day is also a fantastic opportunity to raise awareness, reduce stigma and get people talking about difference. Any awareness day is not just about the specified condition/cause, but an additional opportunity to promote acceptance in the world; highlighting individual difference and encouraging others to find peace with who they are.
So why did I miss World Ostomy Day?
Ironically.....because the source of a persons greatest strength can also be the source of their greatest weakness. In my case, it is my Ostomy.
At around 5am on Thursday morning I woke feeling really sick. A quick rush to the bathroom and seconds later I was hanging over the toilet, becoming reacquainted with the previous nights dinner.
I went back to bed and woke again at about 6am in exactly the same way. I spent the next 3 hours vomiting every 20 minutes, followed by a bag full of very loose stools.
I could keep nothing down, not even a sip of water. By about 8am I could barely pick myself up off of the bathroom floor to hang my head over the toilet again. I was becoming severely dehydrated.
My wife had already told me that she was up in the night with an upset stomach. So our paths crossed when she too was rushing to the en suite bathroom holding our 1 year old who couldn't be left to his own devices. We had been struck down by this years iteration of the winter vomiting bug. Within 24 hours 5 out of the 6 people in our house had been infected by this vicious bug.
At around 8.30am I started to be struck by muscle cramp. By now I had expelled so much of the fluid in my body that I was running really low in salts, sugars and electrolytes and so my muscles were starting to cramp.
Vomiting into the toilet whilst both calves are cramping is an incredible challenge for any warrior. I yelled out in pain as I couldn't stretch the muscles at the same time as hugging the toilet bowl. Warrior status was fading fast.....
Warrior status was slashed to pieces further when my wife came running to the bathroom to ask what was up. She had heard my cries and was panicked. I whimpered to her that all my muscles were severely cramping as I winced in agony. My wife gave me 'that look'. The look that says, "Are you being serious?" The look that says, "You have fucking man flu, get a grip!" The Warrior in me died a little more right then and there.
In fact, that wasn't quite the end of my inner Warrior. When a few minutes later I asked her to call an ambulance the reply came in that "oh really" kind of voice; "Why do you need an ambulance then, Darling."
That was the moment right there - the one where inner Warrior slinked away and regressed into inner child. I was powerless and I felt like all masculinity had been drained from my body.
"I'm dying!", I wanted to say. But that was not the response of a Warrior and probably wasn't even true. But it fucking felt like it!
I gained a Warrior power up when my wife came back upstairs after getting the phone. I was shaking uncontrollably, my lips were going blue and now even my fingers in my right hand were cramping! I was going into shock. I could tell by the sound in her voice when she was speaking to the ambulance call taker that all visions of 'man flu wimp' that were originally in her mind were now fading away......"Yes Darling, it is a little bit serious now" I wanted to quip, but didn't have the strength.
An Ambulance crew arrived, heard the phrase D and V, and jumped several foot backwards. They um-ed and ar-ed about what to do. Firstly suggesting seeing my GP for some fluid replacement drinks. By this point I looked like an extra out of the walking dead, could do no more than flop around on the bathroom floor like a limp fish and every sip of water invoked a reaction that plumbed the very depths of my stomach in search of anything to sacrifice to the God of the toilet bowl.
"No, I don't think the GP is the right option here" I thought.
They eventually agreed to take me in after some pressure from my wife. She either wanted this sorry excuse of a man scraped from her bathroom floor or (which is most likely) she was actually quite concerned by this point.
A 40minute ambulance ride and two 500ml bags of IV fluid later, I arrived at A+E already starting to feel somewhat better. 48 hours of rest and fluids and then I was discharged back home for some further R+R. The Doctors said my Kidneys took a battering and my bowel took its time getting back to normal, but a week on I'm finally starting to feel human again.
So, that is the tale of why I missed World Ostomy Day. My very own Ostomy sent me into battle once more, but luckily this fight was short lived.
To my wife:- Thank you for being my wife-at-arms and holding everything together whilst you and the children were sick and I was Lording it up in hospital. You are my rock.
A message from Ostomy Armour UK:- Extra care must be taken by Ostomates if you are unfortunate enough to contract the winter Diarrhoea and Vomiting bug. Rapid loss of fluid through diarrhoea and vomiting can cause severe dehydration, which if untreated can lead to shock which can have fatal consequences. This is especially so where fluid absorption within the body is reduced due to chronic medical conditions. It is important to remain hydrated at all times. Fluid replacement drinks should be used in severe cases in order to replace essential salts and sugars. If you are unable to re-hydrate then urgent medical attention should be sought and your condition treated as a medical emergency. It is important to stress to healthcare professionals that you have an Ostomy and the effects this can have on your fluid retention. Further advice can be sought from your specialist nurse, Consultant or GP.