Margaret and I have had a rocky couple of days, a couple days ago she decided to get the hump and stop working. I normally empty the bag 5-7 times over 24 hours, it's very dependent on what I eat, how much I eat and activity levels. The only times that I always, always have to empty are around 11pm before I go to bed, at some point in the middle of the night, usually 5am ish and when I wake up between 8:00 and 9:00 on a weekday.
Wednesday evening I went to go to bed and the bag was completely empty which is very odd, I didn't think too much of it but my stomach did feel kind of odd. It's such a hard feeling to describe but something was definitely off. I woke up at 8:30am and realised I hadn't needed to get up at all in the night and that there was only the smallest amount in there from the past 12 hours. This definitely wasn't normal as I had eaten my usual amount the day before. I started to do the many things they suggest when you think you might have a little block. I couldn't think of any other reasons why Margaret wouldn't be working. I've never really had one before but they are a fairly common complication of having an ostomy. There are lots of reasons you might have a block, it tends to be, either damage from surgery, a twist or kink in the intestine, a flare up or food.
I had a hot drink, a little bit of something to eat & drank a hell of a lot of water. My tummy felt strange but was still looking normal and I wasn't in any pain so I headed to the gym thinking it would all sort itself out and that some activity would get things going! As the day went on my tummy grew more bloated, I had a hot shower, and led down with a hot water bottle in the hope it would shift whatever was blocking Margaret. Things did not improve and she was still completely shut down. At about 3:30 I started to worry, it had been 8 hours since anything had come out which is never okay. I rang my Mum to update her and then tried to get hold of my stoma nurse. The line rang and rang with no answer machine, nobody was in the office. I then tried to get hold of my brilliant IBD Nurse but managed to call after their office had closed. Nightmare. I decided to try 111, the NHS service designed to help people who aren't quite sure what they should be doing with their symptoms. The man was very polite and listened to what I had said before asking a set of completely irrelevant questions that had clearly come up on his computer screen.
'Have you been bleeding profusely for 30 minutes or more?' ermmmm no.
'Is your pain level high?' well, no not really.
Clearly my answers didn't flag up any form of emergency and he instructed me to see my GP within 12 hours. This is where, I'm afraid, 111 really doesn't work. I think its a great service for 'normal' accidents or medical queries. When, however, your issue doesn't fit the norm it doesn't make any sense. Although my symptoms on paper wouldn't qualify as a usual emergency situation, they definitely were not okay and had I left it the extra 12 hours, things could have turned out a lot, lot nastier. I rang the GP surgery and asked to speak to the on call Dr, having to explain to the secretary that no it couldn't wait until tomorrow. She said she would do her best and I settled down to wait for her call, really unsure what was going to happen next but praying that Margaret was going to kick back in to action.
The next hour and half went really slowly and my stomach grew more and more uncomfortable, I was now really bloated with back pain and unable to wear even my stretchiest leggings comfortably. I'm not going to lie I got pretty irritated with how at a loss I felt, Google told me that after 7 hours of no stoma output I should head straight to A&E but this seemed a little excessive to me and we all know you can't always take a Google medical search too seriously. I hate feeling like a burden and I never know when I'm poorly enough to seek help. I would usually put on a brave face and think I'm not ill enough, I'm constantly concerned that I will be wasting peoples time. In the past I think this may have been detrimental to my health and because of this I am getting better at speaking up when I don't think things are right. Nobody knows my body as well as I do and I knew here, that something wasn't okay. I was also pretty pissed off at Margaret. She has served me well for two whole years with barely a grumble and now for no reason or notice had decided to go on strike - she'd clearly put up with too much of my shit (hehe).
The Dr gave me a call at around 6:15, she wasn't my usual GP but she was so so brilliant. She heard me out and immediately said that she thought I should go to A&E. It was definitely not what I wanted to hear but I also felt relieved that I was being taken seriously and I wasn't going mad. The Dr thought it best that I got checked out, just in case. Mum had gone out with the dogs so I hung on until she got back, packing for an evening sat in an A&E waiting room. It felt better that I could go in on a recommendation rather than off my own back, that way if all turned out fine and dandy I wouldn't feel guilty at wasting anyones time.
- This is already pretty long so I shall continue with PART 2 soon!
Lots of love xxx