life is full of sh*t, but it doesn't have to be sh*t.
Sat in my Art & Design class, Listening to my Lecturer drone on about something to the whole class, the sun was blazing in through the windows on a cold morning. A Thursday morning in fact. Feeling my stomach churn and bubble, I thought to myself, it will pass, must be a little gassy for some reason. Two seconds later I found myself running to the toilet, not being able to explain why but just knowing I had about 5 seconds to run down the hall way and make it to the nearest loo. AHHH! Made it. I think to myself with a little satisfaction. And at this point I'm thinking, I must of eaten something dodgy last night. So I make my way back to class, OH. How do I explain that to my lecturer. Sorry I just had a massive Sh*t? No way!. Instead to save the embarrassment I skipped my first lesson, hiding in the toilets until it was safe to reappear and quickly grab my bag without anyone noticing. Unfortunately this explosive, urgency went on ALL DAY. I tried to eat, two minutes later I was running down the halls to the closest toilet. This carried on for over a week. And a lot of classes were skipped, a lot of accidents happened and a lot of people still had no idea. Including my mum and dad. So when mum had a phone call to say i'd been skipping my classes, I had to come clean.
So if you are lucky enough to have a mother like mine then your "lucky" enough to have her come with you to the toilet every time you go. Checking my runny, black tar like stools. And this time. BLOOD. Within ten minutes mum had me sat in the doctors surgery, working her motherly magic to get me seen there and then. "why didn't you say there was blood in your stool?" she couldn't of stressed more, Now at the time being at the doctors was the scariest most horrifying place for me, so telling anyone there was blood in my stools wasn't going to happen. we were in and out within 2 seconds, the GP shrugged it off, "Jade has a bug from your last holiday".... Six months ago? really? O.K Doc your the boss! "starve yourself for a week you'll be fine". Got it. A week later and i'm still passing blood still STARVING and still getting the urge to rush to the loo. The Doctor says, "this bug is just latching on, starve yourself a further 5 days, Oh and here's some Dioralyte, take that too".
5 days later, still no progress. Doctor says "It's obviously Gastroenteritis." Oh obviously doc! cheers. Sent away with more stuff to get rid of the diarrhoea. UH NOPE! That didn't work either. I look like a twig and my job and college both think i'm lying about the entire situation.... *work calls* i'm lying on the sofa watching a delightful episode of sponge bob square pants. "hey" I answer. "Hi is that jade?" my personnel manager speaks... "were just checking in to see how your doing and when you think you'll be back to work?". with a certain tone that you really know she is thinking... your milking this, you've told us it's so many different things and we don't believe a word. That kind of voice, (I'm sure you are all too familiar.)
"well, I don't really know when I'll be back, I'm really not well and I haven't been eating". *silence is deafening* "O.K then jade so you won't mind a home visit if your poorly then?" she speaks. And I reply with "if your all happy to talk to me on the toilet come on over". I think in all honesty they wanted me to say oh no that wont be necessary ill be back by the end of the week, To see if i was telling the truth or not. But that I will never know.
SO, where am I?, Ahh, 5 weeks later, I've tried diarrhoea tablets,sachets,juices went to see a homeopath, my answers from him, "your allergic to shellfish" turns out I really am. But I hadn't eaten shellfish before any of this.
week 6, I'm lying in bed, and my mum comes in to talk to me. I remember looking at her face that day, something is really wrong. what's going on? Tears streaming down her face, eyes with so much worry and sadness in them. I had never seen my mum look so pale, so tired and so drained. And it was all because of me. "I've just been reading your symptoms online sweetheart and well, we really need to start preparing ourselves for the worst thing now". She held my hand and burst into tears. Now i don't know about you, but when I see anyone cry I'm gone too. So were both crying and i'm thinking what the hell are we crying for? Mum then went on to explain the symptoms are all very similar to Bowel Cancer.
OH BUGGER! well that was fun, I'm going to die, I never got to fall in love or kiss in the rain or have a family or a life or travel. My life is over. (yes I was a drama queen, what 17 year old girl isn't.) So back to the doctors hand in hand we went. We are not being sent away this time. were getting answers!! Time to call for back up! DAD. The one man that is able to get anything sorted straight away. Every girl has a hero, it's definitely their dad. So the doctor explained, gastroenteritis lasts a long time and that we need to give it more time... My dad being my dad went a little short of crazy in those last words. "You will get my daughter to a hospital today and you will get her seen by someone there and we are NOT leaving until you do." A phone call later and the doctor had an ambulance ready to take us to the hospital. The doctors in RD&E hospital did a few tests including a colonoscopy over night. When I woke up from the colonoscopy a doctor came into my room and explained to us I had Ulcerative colitis. I had no idea what that was, It could of been anything, she then went on to explain what it was, and how they keep it at bay. But not cured. so an 8 week course of steroids and asacol tablets were my new medication. After a week in hospital I started feeling so much better. what were the last few weeks about? what had just happened? why did I worry so much?. Life can carry on.
But as the steroids wore off the symptoms just kept returning, interfering with work, running back and fourth to the toilet, eventually dropping out of college because the work load was just too much for me to keep up with. I ended up not really wanting to see my friends because I pooped all the time and a day out was not a day out I could relax and enjoy. Walking home from work at 10pm on a Saturday evening and pooing yourself is not ideal, but not being able to do anything about it and just trying to get home by walking a little faster. So I distanced myself from friends and didn't see anyone for a good year really, apart from my best friend, Emily, who always managed to make light of me having an accident in her car or holding my hair back when I was sick. A true friend to rely on. Not to mention my sisters, who although had their own lives still made sure I was O.K and supported me no end.
A lot of medications later, drips and struggles, I met Will Hughes. What a Hunk! How charming and handsome could one guy be? First date. Don't eat, you'll poo. Don't tell him, he will run a mile. Don't agree to go anywhere that isn't near a bathroom. I did the opposite of all of this. And yes the inevitable did happen. So avoiding the poo subject was a difficult one.
As the years go on my husband and I have had our fair share of scenarios considering poop. One being the first time I met the parents, now as if that's not nerving enough, I had to meet the parents during a flare up, pooping on a strangers toilet who your especially trying to impress isn't great. And even worse when they notice how long you've been in the bathroom. cringe! But luckily they are just as down to earth as my parents and were able to joke about how much toilet paper I used and when I'd disappear to the toilet it became second nature. Offering me a hot juice or a hot water bottle also became routine for them and me. And the odd tummy pain that would start right in the middle of eating roast dinner and having to leave the room to lie on the bed upstairs. Not to mention the countless day trips we would go on and end up having to rush to a toilet or back to the car to "clean up" as we would call it. Or my hen weekend, not making it quite on time to center parcs, (it was a two hour journey) come on! I'm not a super hero! Or my best friend having to help me clean myself at a concert and pushing all the sweaty screaming girls out of my way so I had a good escape route to the ONE disabled toilet, not to mention the amount of mutters under peoples breath when walking out of a disabled toilet and looking completely fine.
Or my wedding day, standing at the alter next to my husband giggling to each other because he turns around and says don't sh*t now whatever you do. And then as soon as the ceremony was over thinking how am I going to get out of my wedding dress fast enough. Well I thank my best girls for helping me get out of the hottest, most layered dress I've ever owned just in the nick of time.
Then there was our wonderful honey moon. The best week of our lives, what would it be without a few hiccups, mid town new york, "I NEED A POOP!!!" I would scream, rushing to the nearest star bucks or mac Donald's in hope I wouldn't crap myself in the middle of times square or central park. Dinner at the grandparents and oh there we go ANOTHER accident, and my poor, dear, darling husband subtly rolling the car windows down because of the awful smell and reassuring me we will be home soon to get to the bathroom. Or a 6 am alarm ready for work the next day, but being rudely awoken by me, his delightful wife blaspheming every word I knew at 2 am because I was doubled over in pain.
In the end it had all just become too much. I couldn't handle it anymore, or handle the worst words imaginable, just one more colonoscopy and another course of steroids, hang in there we will try this, that and a little more of this. NO THANK YOU! No more Sh*t, no more hospitals, no more god damn steroids!! We spoke to my specialist, who was without a doubt the nicest man I could of asked for to be my consultant. And he got the ball rolling, he contacted the surgeons and within a week I had a date set ready for the big operation. And although absolutely terrified of this giant surgery I was about to have I was so excited and ready for my life back. My surgeon also being the kindest man said these words exactly, "don't be nervous, the only time you need to worry is if I look worried. And that's not going to happen". As soon as he said those words I felt completely reassured about the entire thing. And what an amazing surgeon and team they all were, just incredible. The best care, so great with care that it felt like I was a private patient. I cannot express more how wonderful and great they are at their jobs!! And the after care team i.e the nurses on lyme ward and the stoma nurses who come and visit me most days were just amazing! Including my lovely surgeon who came in to see me every morning to check i was O.K and recovering well. PERFECTION. Although I wouldn't want to experience the giant tube hanging out of my bottom or the uncomfortable catheter ever again. This time I really was seeing the silver lining I had been searching for, And the first time I changed my bag over, I was sick. A little bit of dizziness from the surgery and a little bit of disgust at the site of what I call my "little willy" for the first time. Or when my husband saw it for the first time, being the supportive hun that he is went white as a sheep and nearly fainted all at the same time telling me how well I was doing changing it over. But the times after that get so much easier and even easier as the months go by. And also second nature. So now a few months on and i'm feeling better than ever, exercising and outgoing just like I used to be. My confidence is back and so is my life for me to enjoy. It's still early days for me yet and i'm still getting used to my squidgy wriggly friend but life honestly couldn't be any better! Thank you so much for listening to my story and i can't wait to hear yours too.