Going back in time… Kinda

On Monday I had an outpatients appointment up at King’s. It was a normal, routine appointment that I now have annually.

This appointment was slightly different to previous years.. Mainly because I didn’t have my parents with me this time.

I didn’t go on my own though, I mean I could have done. And I did think about doing that. I know the route and routine of it all. I’m fine doing it all on my own. I’m 22 for God’s sake, and it’s not like I’ve not been there before (I’ve had like almost 7 years experience๐Ÿ˜‚)

But I didn’t. I took my boyfriend with me this time. And I’m pleased I did, as even though I said I could do it on my own, it was nice to have some company โ˜บ๏ธ

The journey was fine, we went on the train. We ended up getting to King’s just over an hour before my appointment as per. (I’ve always allowed extra time to travel there because of delays)

So we grabbed a quick drink and sat and chat for a bit. Then, because we still had a bit of time left I decided to go up to the ward I was on 6 or so years ago. The ward that played a massive part in my recovery. I wanted to see wether the staff who were there when I was there, were still there. I wanted to say hello. I knew it was unlikely that I would see a few staff, if anyone, but I wanted to try.

So we went up to the third floor (the floor in which my ward was on).. In the lift I felt all these memories flooding back. I remembered how many times I had used that exact lift, wether by walking, in a wheelchair or even in a bed.

The lift got to my floor, I walked out.. And forgot what way I needed to turn to get to the ward. I couldn’t remember wether it was right or left๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚.

I quickly remembered though and turned left, making my way towards the ward. We buzzed in, used the hand gel they provided at the entrance and walked towards the front desk. The ladies at the desk I did not recognise and they did not know who I was. They asked “can I help you” and I explained that I used to be a patient in this ward and I’ve come to say hello.

They were lovely and chatted to me, whilst explaining that a lot of the staff who were around when I was there had moved on elsewhere. However there was one nurse there, who I hadn’t seen since probably 2014. The ladies called him and gestured over towards me. He looked at me a tad confused. But when I said my name he was like “omg Katie!!”๐Ÿ˜‚ He asked me how I was, what I was doing now. He also pointed out the letter from the Queen I sent them (I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned that on here yet.. But I’ll probably reminise about it soon anyway!) After a bit of chatting, I had to go as it was getting closer to my appointment. I said my goodbyes and the nurse told me that he will mention that I came in to the others๐Ÿ˜

Once I’d left the ward, I felt so happy. A little gutted that I hadn’t seen many people but I’m glad I got the chance to see one, and he will let the others know that I came inโ˜บ๏ธ

My appointment itself went okay. I didn’t see my actual consultant, but I saw her registrar. She was lovely.

I talked to her about the size and shape of my stomach and asked if I could have physio or something to help bring it in but she said that because of the way my stomach muscles are shaped and placed, physio wouldn’t do anything. I can try basic stomach exercises. But that’s it really. She also said that my stomach could increase in size in the future but there’s nothing I can really so about it. I’m okay with that at the moment, but obviously in the future if it start affecting me physically or mentally then I might have to consider other options if there are any.

She also suggested that I could be discharged if I wanted to be. As there’s nothing more that they can do for me and I am in a stable condition now. I said no. Mainly because I know, god forbid I was to relapse or just suddenly get extremely unwell, instead of going to the GP or A&E – who won’t know about my condition – I can call my consultants secretary up and get an appointment, or admitted to a ward at Kings ASAP. I’d rather have that back up if needed. After all, I am a complex case.

I guess it’s a good thing that I have the option to be discharged from the hospital after all these years as it shows I’m now stable and in a good place. Although, the other option is to stay put. Even if it means seeing my consultant once a year. I’d rather that than have trouble seeing someone who knows what they’re talking about in an emergency. Staying as a patient is one thing I am entitled to which I will accept. I think it’s the safer option. I’m happy where I am.

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Against Doctors Orders

I’ve talked in the past about realising my limits and listening to my body.. etc.

But there are some things in my life which I am technically entitled to, yet I refuse to… acknowledge I guess.

When I say a few things.. I mainly mean.. Well.. One ๐Ÿ˜‚

I found out I was entitled to this a few months back.

Basically a few months ago I went to the doctors for an appointment. He was a nice doctor and we chatted about the issue I originally made the appointment for. After a little while of talking, and I can’t remember how we got onto this, but he mentioned that I am actually entitled to a sick note that said that I was ‘unfit for work’. Due to the complication of my condition and the number of surgeries and treatment that I have had, I do have the right to not work and probably just live off benefits.

As soon as he mentioned the ‘unfit for work’ note I instantly said no. Why? Because why the fudge would I do that when my main goal is to be as “normal” as possible.

I explained that, yes I have a few limitations (mainly just heavy lifting), but I do want to work. I want to earn my own money. I like the idea of having money come into my account knowing that I’ve worked hard for it. I also don’t want to sit around on my butt all day doing nothing. I want to get out there, meet new people, learn new skills, build my stamina. I don’t want to let my condition define me and take control of my life.

Okay so.. I didn’t go that much into detail to the doctor but I did say how much I really wanted to work and in fact, I enjoy working and keeping busy. He was a bit shocked but he also said he was proud of me๐Ÿ˜‚โ˜บ๏ธ

There are some things I am entitled to to, I suppose, make my life easier.. And some I will accept but there are some that I won’t. Only because I feel that it would limit me more. I’m a fighter. I’m someone who constantly tries. I get back up when I’ve been knocked down.

I have always said I will never let this condition win. And recently I have noticed that, from sticking by that statement, I am actually starting to live a “normal” life. I have a job, I’m socialising with friends, and recently I’ve got into a relationship.

Everything’s going for me at the moment… Years of fighting my condition and I feel that I’m actually winning now! ๐Ÿ˜

CUE A CHEESY SMILE SELFIE:

Button Change

Every 3 months I have my feeding tube taken out and a new one put in. (it sounds worse than what it actually is).

Last night was the first night I changed my tube myself without a nurse assisting or even just being there. It was just me, and my kind of nervous dad. He and my mum have been trying to persuade me to book a nurse to come to our home to assist me in changing it, as I’ve always done for the last 6 years however I wanted to do it myself this time. (plus I was scared of contacting the nurse I had last time as she was a bit scary and basically quizzed me on everything I was doing whilst doing it – I felt like I was doing an exam on top of a practical!! ๐Ÿ˜‚)

Anyway, I felt confident that I could do it myself! I just needed one person with me to pass me the stuff. There’s not much that can go wrong.

When I’ve told people that I have my tube changed every 3 months or so, they normally cringe a bit and ask if it hurts. 1, I know it sounds quite…. Icky? (couldn’t think of another word๐Ÿ˜‚) but it’s really not that bad and 2, no… It doesnt hurt. It can be a bit sore but I’ve found a technique to help with that.

It’s not as bad as you might think. A nurse once described it to me as “taking out an earing and putting a new one in but without the back part” and it is, technically.

Above is a photo of all the equipment I use to change the button. (again… It looks scarier than what it actually is). I must say, it is all sterile and everything. Me and my dad (who was the one passing me the stuff) washed our hands thoroughly too – don’t worry we know about hygiene and sterile stuff from our experience of hospitals! ๐Ÿ˜‰๐Ÿ˜‚

Now I’m going to explain to you the parts I use (I don’t actually use all of it – I don’t need to)

This is cool, boiled water. I boil the water up in a kettle and pour it into a mug or cup or whatever and leave it for a while for it to cool down. I can’t remember the full reason why we do this, but I know it’s more clean and sterile to be put in the balloon of the button that way. We always do this when I change the water in the button every week too.

These are two syringes. One is filled up to its max of 5 mil – ready to put into the new balloon once changed. And one is empty and will be used to take the water out of the old balloon.

When changing the water in the balloon (weekly), I know if the balloon is fraying by the colour or consitency of the water… If the water is cloudy and/or a funny colour then I know I need to change the button soon.

Now this is the important bit…. The actual tube. I’m sorry I didn’t get a close enough photo (I forgot๐Ÿ˜‚).

I’ve found a photo online… Source unknown…

So yeah… That’s what it looks like in its full form. And as you can probably see from my photo… Its so small!

The balloon… As you can see from this picture… Holds the tube in place inside. It doesn’t actually go that far into the stomach (as many people assume), well my one doesn’t anyway. It only covers the top stomach lining.

And it just slots into the small hole in my stomach. A small bit of plastic. My own belly button. And it’s the only belly button I’ve got.

So that’s all the equipment used to take an old button out and put a new one in. Now you’ve got all the info on each part.. Let me explain the whole procedure in steps…

1) I get the equipment ready and wash my hands (obviously..) I also test the new tube’s balloon by filling it up with water and taking the water out again. I need to make sure the balloon has no leaks or anything that could affect the position of the tube or tube itself.

2) I lay down in a comfortable position. (laying down is the best position as you’re muscles are more relaxed and not tense)

3) I get passed over the empty syringe and connect it to the little nozzle on the side of the tube. I then take out all the water in the balloon (should be 5 mil)

4) I disconnect the syringe and hold the tube in place. Its unlikely but there is a chance the tube could just pop out. I want to make sure I have the new tube in hand just in case. (it depends on the person but I have been told there has been some cases where the hole in the stomach has automatically closed once a tube isn’t present… And I can’t risk that as that means having another procedure to have another hole put in)

5) I start my breathing technique. I breathe in…. And out… And in… And out… And so on.. Until I feel ready to take it out. I take it out as I breathe out. This is a technique that I was introduced to a couple of years ago. It makes it less sore to pull out as your muscles relax as you breathe out.

6) Once its out.. My stomach makes weird noises (as expected…. Last night it sounded like my stomach was blowing a raspberry๐Ÿ˜…๐Ÿ˜‚) and I get passed the new tube and pop it straight in. It literally just slides in.

7) I then get passed the syringe with 5 mil of water in and connect it to the side nozzle on the tube. I slowly fill the balloon of the tube with water.

8) I then give it a quick, gentle twist to make sure its secure enough but also free to move a little.

And that’s it. All done. The actual taking the button out and putting a new one in, takes a few seconds. It’s really not that bad…. But saying that, I’ve had to learn to adapt to it for the last 6 years.

My appendix got stolen!

Well…. Thats the way me and my family see it anyway haha!

Let me explain..

Around this time 6 years ago I was in and out of Kings having surgery and different procedures. Obviously at the time we were just focusing on what was happening and making sure I recovered. I knew I was having my organs moved and I knew that I was having a stomach wrap to shrink my stomach. But I didn’t think any organs were going to be taken out.

Anway fast forward a few years, where I’m stable and starting to be able to live a normal life… I was living my life focusing on the recovery when… I found out that apparently I didn’t have my appendix anymore!

Obviously it’s nothing to worry about. Appendixes aren’t used anymore and it’s quite common to have them removed – especially with people who have to have surgery in that area.

So I’m not worried about it at all. It’s just funny that i wasn’t told that they were removing.. Or had removed my appendix. I found out a few years later.

Me and my family joke how it was ‘stolen’ haha! ๐Ÿ˜‚

So if you see my appendix anywhere… Give us a call! ๐Ÿ˜‰๐Ÿ˜‚

Hope at last and … Gangnam style?

I’m a few days late but this post is going to be about what happened this month 6 years ago..

I think the easiest way is to share my statuses and explain them the best I can, so first of all, here are my facebook statuses from March 2013… (By the way – I did have the exact date for each of these but I’ve lost them๐Ÿ˜‚ but they are in order! Haha)

So… this status above. For some reason, in my head they discovered my stomach was large in September 2012 … but by this status, maybe they discovered it later on down the line…

I remember having the tube inserted during x-ray (I was awake). They had to do it under x-ray because of the shape and size of my stomach. It wasn’t pleasant to say the least!

And yes… by this point I was very well known in the x-Ray department. As soon as I arrived I didn’t even have to say my name – they knew me so well and just was like “hey Katie!”๐Ÿ˜‚.

It was also by this point, where I’d had enough of having time of school… I was bored and missing my friends. I was also missing normality.

And this is where Gangnam style comes in… ah. This story still makes me chuckle๐Ÿ˜‚.

So… yeah. Also this status also mentions the time when my surgeon and his team ‘discovered the problem’ – which again, in my mind I thought that was discovered in September 2012 … obviously not๐Ÿคท๐Ÿปโ€โ™€๏ธ๐Ÿ˜‚. But then again, this may have been an additional problem?๐Ÿค”

So they found that by inserting a balloon inside of me… they could open up the top stomach valve which was almost so tightly shut .. so much so food was struggling to go down.

I remember being wheeled back to my ward after being in recovery and seeing my surgeon and his team standing outside my door… all smiling at me and my dad. It was weird … but a good weird….

When I find out why they were standing outside and what they had discovered – it felt like a massive relief! I was so happy that there was a reason as to why I had been struggling the way I had been – it wasn’t my fault! There was a problem there! And this problem could now possibly be solved!

Oh and the ‘Gangnam style’ situation …. I can still, to this day see my surgeon and his team dancing around the operating table to it…

I remember this PH Test… I had that tube down one nostril and my feeding tube down the other nostril … it was like my nose was a bloody charging socket! ๐Ÿคฃ

I can’t actually remember the results of this test … I just remember how uncomfortable it felt..

Confidence

First of all I’d just like to say … again … I’m sorry it’s been so long.

Mentally I haven’t been in the right frame of mind. And I’ve been trying to decide and prioritise certain things in my life. I’ve been trying to focus on the things that mean something to me in hopes that it will take my mind off the thoughts in my head.

I’ve recently realised I need help. Help to understand what I’ve been through and what I’m going through. And I’ve went on to get that help.

The last few weeks have been a bit rocky but more recently I’ve started to feel more positive again. One of the things I struggle with is confidence. Confidence in myself. Mentally and physically.

Physically, my main worry is the way my stomach looks. It’s not necessarily to do with the scars. (Which a lot of people assume is the main worry). I’ve always had a scar on my stomach. I’m used to them. It’s the shape of my stomach. The way it sticks out on one side.

Due to the amount of major surgery I’ve had – I’ve now got no stomach muscle on my left side meaning my stomach has a ‘hernia’ effect to it. It sticks out more than usual.

I do wear support sometimes – mainly when I wear dresses or if I’m really bloated. But not always, as it does get a bit uncomfortable. A little while back at work, I was asked if I was “having a baby”. Now you’d probably think I’d be offended … but I wasn’t. In fact I found it bloody hilarious! (sorry for the language) I think it’s because I always thought I look pregnant – because from a certain angle it does look like I have a bump. And even though I found it funny at the time – overall Its made me wonder what people actually think. Like, if I was to walk around in one of those crop tops or something – clearly showing off my stomach – what would people think? Would they be disgusted? Would they feel sorry for me? What would they think?

I don’t know why but I think one thing that I think will help me with my confidence with regards to my stomach, is if I shared a photo of it. Just so it’s out there. I guess part of me is hoping that someone else with a similar stomach to mine (I know everyone is unique and different so won’t be exact) will pop up and maybe give me some advice.

So yeah, here it is –

It’s probably the most flattering angle I could find๐Ÿ˜‚. I’m sorry the quality isn’t great – my phone is rubbish. But yeah. That’s my stomach๐Ÿ˜‚. I also think it’ll be interesting to show anyone reading this who have read/know of my story an actual physical representation of what I’ve been through.

Also, I’m sorry if some of this doesn’t make sense – I’m a little bit tired haha.

Ideas

This is a quick post to ask for suggestions about what you, as a reader, would be interested in reading about on this blog.

Unless something significant happens in my life, I don’t really have much to say currently. I could carry on with my story but the next part is the big chunky bit about the year 2013 when a lot happened with regards to having many many operations and my life changing. But ideally I’d like to start that in January – as that would mark 6 years.

Is there anything you’d like to know about me, anything you think you would be interested in finding out about me and my story? Maybe there’s some advice you think I could give?

Let me know by commenting on this or, as I will be sharing on social media, on any of my social media platforms.

Thank you,

Katie x