A week ago today I experienced a setback. A leak had formed in my small bowel where it passes through my abdominal wall to the surface and a collection of stool had formed in my abdominal wall underneath my incision that had just finished healing (newly formed weak skin). As a result three new holes opened up that all started draining stool... this was good in that that they were draining the infection and not good in that there were now three additional pathways for stool to come out. This threw me for a loop and has set my discharge date back 2-3 weeks (I was scheduled to be released last Friday).
For the better part of last week this caused me a good deal of anxiety and distress...
Would I have to walk around with three to four illeostomy bags?
How long would it take to heal?
Would I ever get out of this hospital?
Other feelings included disappointment at the efforts I have dedicated to heal and treat my body gently and then having my body throw me another curveball.
Feelings of frustration and loss of control also increased... What exactly do I have control over in my body? This lack of control over my body (having an aneurysm that bursts developing an allergy to heparin, forming a 7 cm blood clot in my lungs to name a few) has really shaken me to my core and this recent setback just heightened this feeling.
So I had a choice... I could choose to deal with these feelings by zoning out, disengaging, not talking to friends and family and increase my use of such drugs as Ativan etc... While this was tempting I realized that these health difficulties and more importantly the underlying loss of control, fears, and anxiety would be with me for some time as I am facing a six month recovery period plus potential treatment of Desmoid tumours.
Or I could choose to keep talking with friends and family about my anxiety and fears. I could choose to remember the serenity prayer which says to focus one's energies on things that can be changed as opposed to fighting the things that cannot be changed.
O God, give us the serenity to accept what cannot be changed,
The courage to change what can be changed,
and the wisdom to know the one from the other
So after giving myself some time to accept the setback by allowing myself to feel my feelings of fear, anxiety, sadness, and frustration, the intensity around the setback dropped and I was better able to hear the positive information from my doctors and nurses that with time these new holes would heal and that yes this is only a speed bump. Now don't get me wrong I still do have my moments of doubt, fear and anxiety they are simply less intense and shorter in duration then before.
Over the last couple of days, especially today, I am seeing if I can shift my focus from an attachment to a specific discharge date (something I can't control) and instead focus on getting back into some activities that I enjoy such as walking outdoors (today I walked around Trout Lake with Tina), making plans for Green Guys on The Drive this year, as well as regular games nights in my suite at the hospital with friends and family.
I'd also like to disclose that I am taking some medication to help me sleep and take the edge off of things. I don't intend for either of these to be permanent and my experience in some situations is that medication and cognitive behaviour strategies plus support from friends and family work well to help me through situations like this.
This is a difficult situation and I am not Buddha.
Dan and Company
We got this... This has been the mantra of Dan's friends and family as they help him navigates a difficult medical rodeo ride. This blog contains entries from Dan as well as his friends and family.