David McG, 61
“I was diagnosed in late 2004 with a tumour in my rectum and was booked in for surgery to create an ileostomy (stoma) soon afterwards. I had a six week course of radiotherapy and two lots of chemotherapy to shrink the tumour, and then I had a low anterior resection in May 2005.
My stoma was reversed in November 2005. I was told that my bowel habit would never be the same again and I should expect three to four motions a day. In fact the urgency and frequency took me by surprise – I could go three times within the first hour of getting up and some of the early days were so bad I thought about asking for the stoma back in the form of a permanent colostomy.
I mentioned my problems to my colorectal nurse when I was having a check-up and she offered to refer me for biofeedback treatment. At the time the nearest bowel control clinic was an hour’s train ride from my house, so I didn’t take it any further and I have put up with the symptoms ever since.
I am fortunate that I can mainly work from home, I am a semi-retired photographer, and therefore can easily get changed when I have an accident, which is now not as bad as it once was. I hate to think how I would have coped had I had to do a daily commute.
I manage my urgency and frequency by taking up to two capsules of loperamide before I leave home if I am going where there is little likelihood of finding a nearby toilet. In the past I tried Fybogel, but gave up on it as I felt that it was not really making any difference. I occasionally take Buscopan, which I was prescribed when I went to my GP with bowel spasms.
Whilst I enjoy spicy food I know that it can upset my system and I no longer eat so much of it. I’ve now cut down on fruit and vegetables and no longer have my five a day. This also helps to keep things under control. These days, I reckon I am fairly active for my age, as we have a dog and I walk him at least twice a day. I also play golf and ride my bike regularly and help raise pigs on a local smallholding. It’s taken a long time, but I now feel I have my life back under control, with the occasional lapse.”