calculator-art-boobsOne of the things I miss most about my life pre-ulcerative colitis, and to a degree my life pre-surgery, is the freedom to act without thinking and over-thinking and thinking some more. For example, when most people go to a restaurant, they’ll peruse the menu and make a selection based on what sounds most appetizing. They can act on impulse. If they’re hankering for a bacon double cheeseburger, they can get it. If I were to go to a restaurant now, I’d have to make my selection based on a number of factors and potential outcomes. Will the portion size be too big for me to eat? Are all of the ingredients of a dish safe for me to eat? Will the food be hard to digest? Could it cause a blockage if I don’t chew it well enough? These are the questions I have to ask, the considerations I have to make before doing something as simple as ordering food off a menu.

Every move has to be considered. Every choice has to be a calculation.

On Canada Day, Jayee and I went to Etobicoke’s Centennial Park to take in the high culture that is the annual Ribfest and to mark Canada’s 146th birthday by watching colourful explosions in the sky. Attending such an event again raises the need for calculations, and not just when it comes to food.

First, I had to consider what to take with me to Ribfest. I considered what I should/could load into my backpack. I inserted backup ostomy supplies – a flange, bag, strip paste, mirror, scissors, gauze pads, hand sanitizer – my phone, wallet, keys, and a 500 ml water bottle. I would have put in a 1 L water bottle, but that would have made the bag too heavy. Since I’m still several weeks removed from surgery, I’ve been instructed not to lift or carry any heavy objects.

Second, I had to consider what to wear. I would have loved to wear something hipster-looking like my cutoff shorts, but that would require wearing a belt. Since I’m still dealing with a wound on my pelvic area, elastic waistbands are preferable to relieve pressure on the area. So I settled on a pair of adidas trackpants. I also wore a blue sweatshirt and tied a Canadian flag bandana around my neck. I had to wear something to represent the Dominion, after all.

Next, I had to make decisions about just how to move about. Since my wound remains so sensitive, I have to plan out certain motions to reduce the amount of friction hitting the wound’s dressing. When I get in or out of a car, I hold the waistband of my underwear and pants away from the dressing to avoid rubbing.

Once Jayee and I arrived at Centennial Park, we took a quick look around to see what we would feast on. Being a Ribfest, Jayee opted for ribs with red velvet funnel cake for dessert. I was put off by most of the greasy, gristly fare, and I figured most of it would be hard on my intestines. Luckily there was a stand serving Greek food, probably the healthiest option at the event. I ordered chicken souvlaki on a pita with tzatziki, no other veggie toppings as they’re still on my “do not eat” list following surgery.

After enduring some ridiculously long and slow-moving lineups for our vittles, Jayee and I plopped down on a patch of grass to dig in before the fireworks. The souvlaki was quite good, although I’m sure it would have been tastier with some tomatoes and onions. As hungry as I was, I made an effort to eat slowly and chew thoroughly to avoid any food blockages. Another calculation. Jayee enjoyed her ribs and funnel cake, and managed to eat them without causing the mess that usually accompanies eating those particular items. I stole a few bites of the funnel cake’s outer rim, away from the forbidden strawberries. The fireworks were rather run-of-the-mill, but a few did induce oohs and ahhhs, especially the flourish that ended the show.

Jayee proved an excellent navigator as we searched for a route through the side streets around Centennial Park to get us out of the traffic-jammed area. In fact, Jayee was a fantastic companion throughout the night. She wore my backpack so I wouldn’t have to worry about carrying anything remotely heavy. In turn, I wore her cross-body bag (read: purse), which made me look rather European (read: effeminate).

In the few hours I ventured out for some Canada Day festivities, I had to make a series of calculations. I couldn’t just grab my stuff and go. I couldn’t just chow down on a pulled pork sandwich drizzled with hot sauce. And the considered decisions don’t stop when an outing comes to an end.

When I change sleeping positions, I have to make sure I don’t roll over or lie on my ostomy bag. When I bathe, I have to keep my wound dressing dry. That requires shitty washcloth “baths” that never leave me feeling clean or refreshed. When I eat or drink, I try to separate solids and liquids by at least 30 minutes.

Every move has to be considered. Every choice has to be a calculation.

My life is not fun. I get some enjoyable moments, but the never-ending thought crunching weighs it down. Most people don’t have to think and over-think, they can just do. They can do what makes them happy. I can do things that make me happy, but only after calculating the pros and cons and potential negative consequences of any thing I do. I miss the simplicity and freedom of being able to just do. Stupid surgery. Stupid colitis.

Image via JapeMonster

About rasheedclarke

Award-winning author. Marathon runner. Exceptional dresser. I'd like to be all those things.

One comment

  1. Amy

    Remember, these are early days. It gets better and as you heal, and your diet allows for more items, you willI find a normal balance. It all seems like a chore now, but this is just a stop-gap. I promise.

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