So – I have a stoma. My internal plumbing has been rearranged in a configuration previously unknown to geometry. (I jest.) I’m (inevitably) a bit woozy, but I’m just about up to reading some of the stuff Rosemary has brought in for me (and some of the stuff sitting on the reader apps on my phone.)

However – and again inevitably – there’s one post-operative problem demanding my immediate attention. I need to be able to pee.

Getting out of bed right now is not on the agenda, so we’re talking cardboard bottles at this point. And – unsurprisingly – my bladder’s being a bit recalcitrant. (Perfectly normal after major surgery, and I’ve been here before!)

It takes time, repeated attempts, and major concentration. But, eventually, ‘for this relief much thanks’. The speed with which I’ve done it is again, apparently, surprising. (So, to me, is the amount of pee that emerges…) So – on to the next challenge…

At this point I’m strongly conscious of the advice my friend Jasper Bateley gave me about coming to terms with my situation. ‘Make sure,’ he said, ‘that you ask the stoma nurses to show you how to manage the thing. As soon as you can.’

So that’s what I do.

Initially it’s not a problem. Given the fact that I effectively fasted for two entire days before the operation, it’ll be a while before anything needs to come out.

My stoma nurses seem happy with my progress to date, but slightly (and pleasantly) surprised when I explain what I want. And when – in due course – it becomes obvious that I need to empty my stoma bag, they’re there for me.

As I get my first proper look at the bag.

It isn’t a shock because – thanks to Jasper – I’ve already seen one. And so – under close instruction – I open it, empty the contents, clean everything up, and reseal it. That’s all we can do for the moment – but I also need to know how to remove and change the bag. The good news is that after today I feel confident I’ll be able to do it. (And so do my nurses.)

This is how things are now. This is how they have to be. And I need to be in control of the situation…