A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned that I had taken a blog vacation for 6 months. however, it wasn’t much of a vacation. I was diagnosed with diverticulitis last year, which is an inflammation of a diverticulum, especially in the colon, causing pain and disturbance of bowel function and in November, I became ill. After several weeks of increasingly severe stomach pain, I finally acquiesced and went to the Lachine General Hospital. It was a Sunday evening and the emergency room was not that busy. Now I am a nervous person by nature, so you can imagine my anxiety levels. The doctor examined me and sent me for a CT scan. The next day, a surgeon came into my room and said that he had to operate immediately due to a bowel obstruction. I froze and asked if I could call my family doctor for his opinion. After the conversation, there were no other options. I was wheeled into the operating room for the first time in my life on November 29th. Although the operation went smoothly, I was told that the surgeon would place a colostomy bag on a temporary basis. As you probably know, a colostomy bag is not exactly a fashion accessory. It enables you to divert your stool into a bag instead of through the affected part of your colon. Lovely. After several days, I am sent home on a liquid diet and have to wait 6 weeks until the next surgery which is to remove one foot of my bowel. On January 22nd, I return for the most important surgery and find out they will be inserting an epidural. After 3 1/2 hours, I am wheeled into recovery. All goes well. Within several days, the stitches for the incision, which runs from my belly button downwards, are removed. Once again several days later, I am released from hospital and have to wait for the third surgery which is to reverse the colostomy bag. In the meantime, I am not able to work and find myself sitting at home and slipping into a clinical depression. My mood becomes sad and I see the glass half empty. During a visit to my family doctor, he suggests anti-depressants and wants me to see a psychologist. After three months, things seem to be getting worse instead of better. I refuse as I have one surgery left and figure that I will feel better once it has been completed. On March 3rd,I go in for the final surgery; afraid that I will wake up with the colostomy bag and have to keep it forever. The surgery goes well and I am sent home again several days later on the usual liquid diet. In the meantime, my weight has gone from 225 to 185. But the depression still lingers. And I haven’t left my house for 4 months and haven’t had a paycheck for two months. My family doctor insists I begin taking the anti-depressants and I agree. Almost 20 years ago, I suffered from a clinical depression and took the same medication and began seeing the same psychologist. It took until June to start feeling better and in July, I was back to normal. Of course, my mother was afraid I would become manic because I did 20 years ago. Mania is a mental state which is the opposite of depression. You have racing thoughts, excessive behaviors and too much energy. Hence, the expression bi-polar or manic depressive. At the end of the day, I am back to normal; whatever that is. But adversity builds character and teaches us lessons.
So what’s the takeaway . . .
- Health is the most important consideration in our lives because without good health, nothing else matters
- Life is precious – if I had waited much longer to go to the hospital, I may not be writing this blog
- Depression is real – 1 in 5 Canadians suffer from depression, however, it is treatable in 85% of cases with medication and cognitive therapy
- Eat well and exercise – what we put in our bodies is critical so eat more fruit and vegetables, drink more water, reduce red meat and exercise
- Everything happens for a reason – sometimes the reason is not revealed right away
- It’s not what happens to you but how you react to it.
- Health professionals don’t get the recognition they deserve – the doctors and nurses were an essential part of the healing process
- Make sure to monitor your health by regular visits to your doctor
- Behavior changes attitude – I had to finally become proactive on the journey to good health
- Do not take anything for granted in life