As much as I’d like to say we figured everything out and have resolved my various pain issues (back pain, J-Pouch pressure, stoma skin irritation), we haven’t. It’s all still there. However, I am cautiously optimistic that I am seeing some signs of improvement. Part of me thinks this improvement may just be a “mind over matter” thing, by which I’m simply ignoring the discomfort because I want so badly to feel better and be “cured.” But another part of me thinks I’m seeing some actual improvement. Let’s break it down:
I’m still waking up every night around 2am with lower back pain, but either I’m getting used to it, or it’s slightly less intense. I am now able to sit up, change my pillows, and get out of bed without having to wake up my wife. So that’s something. When I wake up, I typically get up, take a few ibuprofen, and switch my pillow so I can sleep the rest of the night in a more-upright position, all of which seems to relieve some of the pain and allow me to sleep the rest of the night. I’ve been reassured by my docs and a few friends that this pain is not uncommon after major surgery and will go away as my body continues to heal. Let’s hope so.
This issue is pretty much resolved. I am still feeling some occasional pressure, but it is not the intense, piercing pain it used to be. Just some minor pressure, prompting me to go the bathroom and release some mucous/liquid, and it’s gone. I still seem to be generating a lot of mucous, which must be released (yesterday may have been a record on that front), but I’m fine with that as long as it’s not accompanied by crippling pain or an inability to control its release. And right now, it’s not. A few more good days, and I’ll call this one a former complication.
Stoma Skin Irritation
This is by far the most difficult issue to assess. I can’t see the irritated skin while my bag is attached, so I can’t verify whether it is actually improving. All I have to go on is my level of pain. It definitely still hurts, sometimes a lot. But, overall, I think the pain has improved slightly. This could be the result of actual healing or me just getting used to (and ignoring) the pain, but I’ll take it for now. Don’t get me wrong, it’s definitely not cured. I’m still unable to walk more than once around my townhouse complex because it hurts too much. If I twist wrong or sit down too quickly, it burns as bad as ever. If I press on my bag, there’s no doubt that the skin is still irritated in the same areas. But it doesn’t seem to hurt quite as bad. And last night, it itched—which I’m choosing to take as a sign of healing. I’m planning to change my bag tomorrow night, which will give me a fresh look (and opportunity to apply more stoma powder). Fingers crossed I’ll see some actual healing.