Waiting List Lifers.. 

Waiting List Lifers.. 

When my surgeon agreed to do my ileostomy he asked me if I would do him a favour. He is running a study of people on waiting list for surgery and hoped I’d partake. Of course, I said yes. In my opinion, the more doctors know about life as a patient the better. So, in that vein, I’d like to share with you my experience of waiting for my surgery date… 

It’s been about a month now, since my surgery was agreed. Over two weeks since my pre op. Still I have no date. Things may have gone a little faster, but my extensive and complex list of health issues threw a spanner in the works. As always. 

In order to be scheduled for surgery and receive a date you need to have the go ahead. ‘Fit to proceed.’ Whilst my tests at the pre op all came back ok (despite being told I’d had an acute kidney injury I wasn’t aware of recently) I couldn’t be pronounced fit without more information from my POTS team. Recently they’ve put me on medication for MCAD and the nurse who oversees pre op was, rightly, concerned this may affect my care needs whilst in surgery. My progress along the conveyor belt was halted until an email came back outlining the correct protocol to follow for me. 

Whilst I appreciate the fact that the hospital is doing their best to ensure a good outcome for me, the wait was maddening. Every day I was calling around, leaving messages on voicemail after voicemail. Until eventually I heard back from the lovely lady coordinating my pre op assessment to say that she had given the green light!! Fantastic! I was elated! Finally things could get going!! 

OR NOT… 

My surgeon was away most of May and will continue to be away in June. Meaning that, if I want to be sliced and diced before July I need to put my faith in another surgeon. A surgeon I haven’t even met. This is something I was dead against. I like my surgeon, I TRUST my surgeon. He is the best my hospital has to offer. I always said I would just wait to be seen by him. 

But this waiting is driving me mad! Each day I hope and pray that the post will fetch me a hospital letter with my admission date, or the phone will ring with a cancellation I can slot into. Meanwhile, my condition is worsening. The prolapses continue to get larger and larger, making it harder to pass anything. Anything at all. My insides hurt. They ache and they stab, twist and pull. My stomach swells and my kidney area feels about ready to explode. On top of all that sits the stomach cramps and absolutely crippling back pain. 

I’m trying to continue normal life. To still get out and about. But by the end of the day I’m yelping in pain like a wounded pup. Any movement takes such an effort that it’s leaving me on the constant verge of tears. I feel angry and disgusted with my body and what it’s doing to me. I’m afraid that my bladder will retain too much and give out unexpectedly. I sleep (for the little I can get) on a towel as I’m afraid of accidents. I’m afraid that soon my back will be so painful I won’t be able to attend to my complicated bathroom needs. I’m afraid that my kidneys are becoming damaged from the waste I cannot clear out of my bladder. I’m afraid that things are worsening to the point that surgery will have to be more extensive than we hope. 

On top of all the health fears, I have the fear of letting my children down. Letting my husband down. Being seen by him as a vile and grotesque creature. All these fears, the pain and exhaustion, they are all bubbling up inside me twenty four seven. Each day I’m left waiting feels like a lifetime as my mood plummets to depths I dare not think about. I am constantly walking a tightrope, a thin sliver of hope preventing me from falling apart at any moment. Tears and anguish are never far away at the moment. 

So, whilst I am truly desperate for MY surgeon to do the operation, I told the waiting list coordinator I would accept treatment from another surgeon. In fact, my exact words were ‘I’d let anyone do it. As long as they have a scalpel and a will to do it, I’m in!’ 

That’s actually how I feel now. The desperation to get it done outweighs the need for my doctor to look after me. But, even with my flexibility, it’s not that simple. A surgeon cannot simply be assigned a case and told where to cut. Surgery doesn’t work like that. Each different surgeon has to agree to the merits of the case. They need to read the file and understand why the patient was offered that road of treatment. With my health problems being so rare, that’s not guaranteed for me. I worry my notes could be passed round, with each doctor refusing to do the surgery. In the meantime my surgery date with the doctor I want is getting further and further away. 

So I wait. I wait and I worry. I wait and I cry. I wait and I grit my teeth and attempt to cope with the pain. 

Such is life on the waiting list. 

The Surgeons Decision. 

The Surgeons Decision. 

If you follow my blog you may remember the impassioned email I wrote my surgeon. I was honest and brutal about the difficulties I’m facing thanks to my prolapses; basically I begged him for help. He responded. Soon after I was sat in his office and given three options to choose from, repair, permanent irrigation tube or, stoma. After a lot of research and soul searching, consultations with my GP and POTS nurse, I decided the stoma was the right decision for me. 

A few weeks ago I saw my surgeon again. I told him how my issues had worsened. Seemed to be worsening each day. He began to suggest re doing tests I’d had months earlier. A year or more earlier in fact. I took a deep breath and stopped him in his tracks. 

No more tests. No more thinking. No more suffering. I told him I had made my choice and was ready for surgery. My voice shook as I spoke of the research I had done and my reasons for choosing this route. I spoke of the impact on my life each surgery could have and how my previous ‘fix’ of one of the prolapses has already failed. Failed to the point of being worse than it was. I made it very clear that I knew the pitfalls as well as the positives of having a stoma. This is in no way the ‘easy’ option. There was no easy option to choose. All were fraught with complications and changes to my life. It is just that this path gives me more chance of change. Of no longer suffering with pain in my stomach and back all the time. Of not living my life around my bowel. 

Eventually I stopped talking. I sat there, shaking, awaiting his response. ‘Right, we will get you on the list for surgery then.’ 

HE SAID YES!!

He agreed. Immediately. No more appointments. No more tests. I would be put on the waiting list for surgery! Not only that, but he decided to do an ileostomy rather than a colostomy. This will bypass all of my large bowel, hopefully bypassing all my problems with it! He’s going to do a keyhole loop procedure for now, if that still leaves me with pain from the prolapses then he will consider a larger procedure at a later date. I can understand that decision, after all I do have a bajillion things wrong with me. Why have a huge procedure when a relatively small one could do the job? A procedure that only takes forty five minutes will hopefully change my life completely. 

He left the room to get the required paperwork and I dissolved into a puddle of tears. My friend comforted me as I sobbed. My tears weren’t sadness; they were relief, joy, fear and excitement all mingled into one cocophany of emotion. As each breath rattled through my lungs I felt a weight lifting from my shoulders. Soon, within eighteen weeks, it would all be over. I’d be through the surgery and on the road to recovery. I could hopefully start living again. 

But at the same time, I knew it would all just be starting. My recovery. Adapting to a new way of functioning. Living with a bag and evolving my life around that. It was a truly terrifying and liberating thought. 

The surgeon returned and was perplexed at my tears. ‘I thought you’d be happy?!’ ‘I am!’ I exclaimed, explaining the explosion of emotions overwhelming me. As I left I hugged him and thanked him for saving my life. Because whilst the problems with my bowel aren’t at the point of killing me, they are stopping me living. Hopefully, with this change, I’ll be able to take part in my own life again. 

NB. During the appointment my surgeon spoke of how refreshing it was to have a patient be so open and frank about their condition. He really appreciated my in depth emails. Whilst it is not always possible to write to a doctor directly, we can advocate for ourselves during our appointments. As a patient, I urge you to research your condition and your options. Take notes to appointments if needed so you can speak clearly about your problems and the way you want treatment to go. NOBODY knows more about your body and your life than you, you are the expert in that field, so be confident in yourself. If you’re not happy with treatment plans, request another opinion. This is your body, it is you that has to live with the treatment being offered. You cannot simply end a shift and walk away from things, so advocate for yourself. Always. 

N:Rem Sleep System.. Is it worth it? 

N:Rem Sleep System.. Is it worth it? 

In case you didn’t read my previous blog I’ll give you a little info on the N:Rem Sleep System and why I chose to review it. If you follow my blog, you’ll be aware that I have chosen to trial several products that I feel will be of use to us as in the disabled community. Products that offer to improve our health, or quality of life in some way. It is for that reason that I contacted the N:Rem company. 

The company claims that this sleep system is specifically designed for people who suffer pain. The mattress is integrated with foam tablets of three different densities. These tablets can be swapped around the five different zones in order to effectively create a mattress that is bespoke to your needs. Unfortunately, I was unable to try the mattress as a whole, but I have been trialling the foam tablets on my own sub par mattress at home, here’s my findings… 


It was about two months ago that the tablets arrived in my home. My husband lugged the two huge boxes upstairs and I was shocked by the depth of the foam pieces. Often mattress toppers look thick and luxurious on photographs, but what arrives is a disappointing pancake of patheticness. That certainly wasn’t the case here. The foam was thick and sturdy, you could easily feel the different densities just by giving them a squeeze. 

Alongside the tablets came a comprehensive leaflet with instructions on the best placement of them, to suit pain in various areas of your body. I get all over body pain, but I do find the worst of it centres around the base of my spine. So I planned out the mattress to suit that. (I planned, my husband placed. Not that the tablets are heavy; just a little cumbersome as we have a kingsized bed.) I have to say I was very impressed that the foam easily covered the whole mattress; many places say things are kingsized but they never quite fit. I suppose that comes with the fact these are designed to actually slot into a mattress, rather than sit on top, so they need to be snug. Each density of tablet is a different colour, making them very easy to identify. 


Initially, I was incredibly impressed with the mattress toppers. For the first time in a long time, I found laying in my bed comfortable. The main improvement was to the pain in the pressure points where my body weight hits the mattress. Usually after a nights sleep these areas are pushed and smushed into awkward positions of pain. But not with the N:Rem tablets. With these tablets I could wake up in a much more comfortable state. Making it much easier to get a start on my day. 

I also found that the sleep I did get was deeper. Much deeper. To the point I often wouldn’t move in my sleep. There have often been many nights where I would toss and turn throughout the night, waking even more exhausted than when I went to sleep. Not so anymore. It is only on the highest pain nights that I struggle to get comfortable, rather than almost every single evening. In fact, for the first time in my adult life I managed to sleep the whole night on my side. Even better, my arm wasn’t completely numb and useless when I woke up. The different zones of the mattress tablets allowed my body to sink down where needed, and have extra support in other areas. This lead to the perfect sleeping position. Sleeping on my side is something the doctor has recommended for a while, to aid my digestion, so I’m glad it’s finally an option for me. 

Top tip: If you’re going to invest in a mattress, be sure to also get the correct pillow for your needs. Pillows come in all shapes, sizes and densities and can really make a huge difference to your sleep posture. 

Unfortunately during this trial I’ve had some severe dips in my health, leaving me pretty much bed bound for long stretches of time. It was during these periods in bed that my back pain became incredibly severe. It seemed like the tablets weren’t working. 

Disappointed, I rearranged them. Then rearranged them again. Then did it a third time. Eventually, after trying out pretty much every combination mathematically possible, I gave up. Perhaps my body is just too cantankerous to help? I was dreading writing the review, not sure what I would put. But then something changed, I moved to my husbands side of the bed in order to watch some television one night. The next morning my back pain had lessened. Was it a fluke, or had switching sides really made that much of a difference? I decided I best steal his side on a more permanent basis in order to find out.. for the sake of my readers. 

It was soon clear to me that the problem wasn’t the tablets. Over on my husbands side my backpain eased and the quality of my sleep continued to improve. I do still have insomnia, but when I do drop off it is a deep and refreshing sleep. I’ve also found myself able to nap during the day as soon as I become tired; rather than tripping the light fandango for at least an hour trying to find that sweet spot before eventually giving up. When I discussed this with my husband, he wasn’t surprised. Apparently on my side of the bed there is a me sized dip in the mattress, becoming particularly deep around backside level. 

So that’s the answer, my sub par mattress was making it impossible for the tablets to do their job. 

This is exactly why N:Rem do not provide the foam tablets as a pack on their own. They used to, but realised the customers weren’t getting the improvements they needed. So now the tablets are provided alongside the 2000 pocket sprung mattress, which they slot into. They are then topped with a viscoool layer and finally zipped into a high quality cover. The cover itself can be zipped off and washed, something that really appeals to me as I know life with chronic illness can be somewhat messy. As can life with kids. The whole mattress can also be stripped back for cleaning and airing out, great for those of us with allergies. 


I do wish I had been able to try the mattress as a whole. I’d love to know just how cool the cooling layer is, and if that helps with my sleep. My health issues mean I get severe hot sweats at night, so much so I have to have a fan running all year. The pocket sprung mattress sounds pretty amazing on its own, with the whole set up it must be mind blowing! Also, having just the foam tablets on my bed can be somewhat tiresome at times. My mattress is not designed to hold them in place like the N:Rem is, often they move and spread apart. Plus, I can feel where each one meets the next due to only having a fitted sheet on top; a fitted sheet that barely makes it around my mattress due to the depth of the foam. However, even with all these little niggles I would not be without these tablets now. I can 100% say that they have improved my sleep, lessened my pain and increased my quality of life. 

The N:Rem Sleep System is definitely the top of my wish list! Particularly as there’s a FREE 100 night trial going on at the moment, during which you can test out different combinations of foam tablets to ensure you get the best for your needs. The mattress is guaranteed for TEN years with a free returns policy on it. Finally, there’s an interest free offer that works out at only £1 per night for the sleep system. (I’d probably save that in electric for the fan!) You don’t even need to pay a deposit! I definitely feel a good nights sleep is worth £1 of anyone’s money, don’t you?

To start your FREE 100 night trial click here or to order today click here. Type in THISLITTLELIFE at the checkout for a £30 discount! 

This blog post is part of a sponsored review of the N:rem sleep system. All opinions within it are my own and in no way influenced by the company. This trial is not available to the general public. It is a one off that has been organised in order to create independent feedback on the product via my blog. There may be financial reward should any profits be made as a direct result of this piece.