Just under a year since my initial op (proctocolectomy to remove my colon) and just over 7 months after my final op (re-plumbing me internally so that I was rid of the colostomy bag) and I think I am now ready to make my last post to this blog and draw a line under this whole experience. A damn good feeling.
When the initial operation was scheduled I targeted today as the point by which I expected to be 'officially better' by planning to ride the "Etape Caledonia" (an 81 mile cycling sportive in Perth). My surgeon (who rides the event every year) was wary of this plan and when everything went pear-shaped after the first op (see posts passim) it did seem a rather optimistic objective. In fact, if you will forgive the melodramatic tone, there was a period where the idea of riding at all seemed unlikely.
But everything has gone very smoothly in the last few months: I am fit and healthy, I have recovered my old energy levels, I'm working at 100%, and I have regained all the weight I lost. I passed a significant hurdle a couple of weeks back when I made a business trip to China and coped with the stresses of long-haul and internal Chinese travel.
But cycling has been my key recovery benchmark. In February Jane and I had a trip to Lanzarote and I started trying to ride my bike properly. Subsequent lapses in my training discipline were duly punished a couple of weeks ago - over the course of a long weekend - as I was dragged around some North Yorkshire rides by my mates Chris, Matt, Dave and Naythan. It was a sobering experience but just what I needed to shock me in to shape -- I'm very grateful to the lads for their support and patience as they waited while I grovelled up the climbs!
So today I rode the Etape Caledonia: 81 miles in 4 hours 11 mins (i.e. a 19.4mph average). Nothing spectacular (and I cringe thinking of my serious cycling mates reading this) but above my expectation and I'm calling it as "a respectable performance".
So that's it. This blog has served it's purpose for me by allowing me to off-load my introspective angst, indulge my moments of self-pity and keep my friends up-to-date with progress in a hopefully unobtrusive way. I'm delighted (and slightly emotional to be honest) to be able to make this my last post and move on. Today's ride feels like a fitting full-stop to this chapter in my life.
For those reading this blog because they or someone close to them face the same proctocolectomy / Ileul Pouch procedure I can honestly say (despite all the problems I incurred and the physical and emotional scars I bear) that I do not for one moment regret the decision to have the op and it has changed my life for the better.