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    10 Ways To Deal With Having Bowel Surgery As A Cute Twenty-Something

    I always wanted my life to be like a novel. I didn't expect that novel to be Wetlands.

    1. Never Say "Bowel Surgery".

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    Oh, what type of surgery are you having? is the dreaded question, and you should prepare to be asked it repeatedly over the next couple of months - people are NOSY, y'all. There's no real good answer, but gesticulating wildly in the vague direction and saying "Ah . . . abdominal surgery" might just get you through. Other good alternatives include "major surgery" (so beautifully vague), "keyhole surgery" (if applicable) and the gutsy, "NONE OF YOUR GODDAMN BUSINESS".

    2. Read Health Forums. But Not Too Much.

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    Internet forums can be a valuable resource for reminding you that although you're in an incredibly sucky situation, you're not in it alone. For post-surgery tips, hospital info, food plans and all that jazz, it's a godsend. However, if you tend towards being a worrier it can also end up filling your mind with the worst possible surgical outcomes. Tread carefully and take deep breaths. Just because Susie from Southend* walked like a pigeon for five months after her operation doesn't mean that you will.

    *Susie doesn't exist.

    3. Abandon All Dignity, Ye Who Enter Hospital.

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    I am aware that half my tips are ways to protect your fragile ego from the damage caused by having stuff wrong with your poop-tubes, but really, once you go into hospital, YOU WILL STOP CARING. This is good. This is necessary. Let's be real, the medical professionals have seen ten cases as gross as yours. And that's just this morning.

    If in doubt, remember the bowel-patient motto, IOTBG (IH): It's Okay To Be Gross (In Hospital). I mean, it's okay to be gross whenever, but it's definitely okay in hospital. Relax, no-one is going to remember that time you pooped on their hands. Except you.

    4. Find The Nice Nurse.

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    There's always one. There's sometimes several. The trouble is, there's usually also some not-so-nice ones. Take time to suss out the kindest nurse and throw yourself on their mercy when you need the loo urgently and someone else is in it/your anti-blood-clot injection has made your arm grow a series of mysterious yellow lumps/the woman in the bed opposite has stolen your cuddly giraffe. And most importantly, be nice to them, too. Nurses don't get paid nearly enough for putting up with your (literal) shit.

    5. Designate A Strong-Stomached Sympathy Person

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    Desperate to pee but you can't? Bleeding from your bum for the fifth day running? This person is the one you moan to. Believe me, you need a person to call. Pick a friend, parent, sibling or partner; faceless strangers on the internet are great, but sometimes you need face-to-face sympathy. And someone to bring you grapes, obviously.

    Shout out to my mother here, who actually watched an internet video of my surgery so that she could fully empathise. Now that is parental love.

    6. Befriend The Other Patients. They Know Your Pain.

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    Seriously, these are your people now. These are the people with whom you can talk soft bowel movements and rectal pain, and they will get it. They will understand. Everyone is sore and tired and bored in hospital, so you might as well pass the time by sharing life stories. The Colorectal Ward: the potential birthplace of many a great friendship.

    7. Don't Expect Laxido To Taste Good.

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    Or MiraLax. Or Lactulose. Or whatever godforsaken liquid they give you to choke down in the place of a nice evening beer or morning cup of tea. SALTY PINEAPPLE. LAXIDO TASTES OF SALTY PINEAPPLE, I TELL YOU.

    8. Read Wetlands.

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    Okay, maybe not before surgery, because it has some scary descriptions of pain, and maybe not right after, if you're feeling a bit nauseous from the morphine and don't fancy reading horrendously detailed descriptions of various bodily fluids - but at some point in your life. Promise me? Look, we haven't got a whole load of relevant novels to choose from here, bowel surgery not being a common theme in literature. This protagonist is in a similar situation to you. And she's still a hot young woman who has lots of sex. Inspirational! Though please don't be inspired by her take on personal hygiene.

    9. When Recovering, Schedule Pooping Time

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    This is important. This is very, very important. You know how you should allocate 8 hours a day for sleep? Well, in the first couple of weeks, allocate 3 hours a day for pooping. Honestly. You may not use it all, but if you're anything like me you may have the shape of a toilet seat moulded into your backside forever. This rather rough period will pass, but in the meantime may I suggest purchasing a good book? (Please refer to previous tip)

    10. Remember, You're Still Cute

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    Still cute! Cute AND tough. Illness and surgery is grim for anyone to go through, and it's especially difficult when a) it's an area of the body people get embarrassed talking about, and b) it's at a time when you're old enough to be independent but young enough to be scared and inexperienced. It's shit (ahem) to deal with, but you're going to get through it! Lots of love and luck to you, my fellow cute twenty-something with bowel problems.

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