24 hours with... Ed Rowland, Custody Sergeant, living & working with an Ileostomy

Date: A Thursday in July

Why have you chosen to write about today? It’s random and combines both my personal and work life.

Good morning!

What time did you wake up?

7am - I was on lates last night so late to bed, my wife, Kate, who is also in the Police is on earlies, so she wakes me before she leaves so I can look after our 2yr old, Maggie....daddy daughter days are some of the best days now. 

Did you have a dream?

 I have no idea, I was definitely in a deep sleep when I was woken.

Do you think today will be 'good' or 'bad' day? (use your own definition of these words to answer the question)

It will be a good day, I get to play and act like a child, however, nights shift tonight maybe a struggle!!

What are the first three things you do after waking up?

1.       Empty my bag, I generally wake up to a bag full of either poo or air, or both...it’s like having a balloon attached to my tummy!! But it’s a quick empty before any poosplossion can happen! (So far in nearly two years with an ostomy this hasn’t happened thankfully.)

2.       Chuck on some clothes and say good morning to the Kate and Maggie and seeing her off to work.

3.       A quick 10 minutes of basic exercise or stretches, such as squats, press-ups or Pilates to help wake me up.

Note: Before my operation I suffered for ten years with Ulcerative Colitis. Some of the side effects that effected me the most being extreme fatigue, pain and taking me a good few hours before I could leave the house. I would be on the toilet for the first 2-3hrs every morning. With this now gone, I have more energy than I ever had.

Do you eat breakfast? If yes, what did you have?

I usually have breakfast after a couple of hours being up, usually scrambled eggs on toast, sometimes with a bit of salmon, Parma ham or avocado on top as a treat. 

What would be your perfect breakfast?

Depends on what mood I’m in, I’ve definitely turned into a bit of a foodie since my op, before I was very limited as to what I could eat. It would either set off a flare of UC, or make me get anxious about eating as I know I will inevitably need the toilet a short time after eating, something which could cripple me for the rest of the day, especially if there was any hint of diarrhoea! 

Is there anything that you have to do today but don't particularly want to?

A bag change - it’s more of a laziness thing. Today is a bag change day, I usually change it in the morning before breakfast as my Stoma is less active, but it’s difficult to try and do this whilst I have Maggie to look after. It will therefore be an evening change which is a little more challenging. I would just leave it, but it’s already been on a day longer than normal and it’s does feel much more comfy having a fresh bag on.

List five things that you do between 9am and noon.

1.        Maggie and I take the family dog, Brian for a walk.

2.        Maggie and I go to a trampoline park in the city and do lots of bouncing. I wear my support vest from @vanillablush to support my peristomal hernia and bag....I get quite warm! Again, before my operation this would have been impossible, I would have been constantly looking for the nearest toilet, thinking I needed the loo and having to dash off. This would then bring on the stomach cramps and pain. All it would take is that one little thought in my head, ‘what if u need a poo now...’ and that would be enough to set me off for the rest of the day.

3.        Pizza Hut for a lunchtime treat, it’s just down the road from the trampoline place and Maggie enjoys their Spag Bol.

4.        Drive home during which Maggie will have fallen asleep in the car, especially if I have gone the long way back. She’s then carried in and popped into bed with ninja like moves, whilst trying to stop the dog from licking her and waking her up.

5.        I should be tidying up, but I sit and watch the tele for an hour. Il do the tidying later.

Did you eat lunch? If yes, what did you eat? 

As above

What would be your perfect lunch?

Pizza is probably one of my favs.

List five things that you have done, said, thought, or that have happened between noon and 5pm.

1.        Maggie woke up, so we sat and watched Tangled, (or Rapunzel Tower as Maggie calls it, she actually thinks Tower is her last name)

2.        we’ve then painted and played in the house all afternoon.

3.        We’ve had an afternoon snack, and I tidy up in between games and activities.

4.        I’ve text Kate and checked our plans for tea, and if I need to make it for when she gets in. I sometimes make this decision myself and cook an absolutely terrible meal, I occasionally and rarely pull an amazing meal out of the bag (not that bag) but mostly, Kate, the perfect wife she is, cooks for us. 

5.        I realise I’m shattered and the thought of a night shift ahead of me is a little concerning. 

Do you eat dinner/tea? If yes, at what time? 

 As above.

What do you eat? 

So, Kate comes home and cooks us all an amazing seafood pasta. It takes me longer to eat meals than most, because with a bag I have to make a concerted effort to be like a train and ‘chew chew chew’. If not, I risk a blockage which is not pleasant. I’ve had one proper blockage before, I was sick, I couldn’t move, it was a pain completely different to what I’ve ever felt before. It was an experience I never want to repeat. 

What would be your perfect dinner? 

Tonight’s dinner was up there. However, a glass of wine was missing - but works fast approaching.

What do you do with your evening (5-8pm)?

So, after our tea, Maggie goes to bed. There’s a bit of kick off when it comes to brushing teeth, but it’s just her delightful way of finding her boundaries at the moment and discovering what she can and can’t get away with. She brushes her teeth. I then get to bed for a nap. It doesn’t work, so I’m up, watching some series on the tele. I then have a shower and change my bag. I’ve had to quickly get on with it due to my Stoma being quite active. The quicker it’s done the less likely I’m going to get poo on me! Where most people start getting ready for bed at this point, I’m heading off for work. It’s just before 9. It’s a 30mins drive which I quite enjoy, and I get dressed in work. Getting dressed takes that little longer as I wear my ‘OstomyArmour’ which the job has purchased for me. Back when I was initially told I couldn’t be front line after my operation, I found this piece of equipment from the states, developed by a former Navy Seal. Long story short, the job agreed to pay for it, so I could get back to full duties. Handover is at 2200hrs. Tonight there’s two of us Sergeants working and two detention Officers. It’s not great, and the centre is already fairly busy, but we’ll manage, we always do. Straight after handover I go around and see my allocated detained people for the night. There’s a couple I’ve met before, one who’s a little daunted by being in a cell and a couple of others who have been interviewed and are awaiting a decision with their case. I then have to return to my office/charge room and update their records that I have accepted them and am happy they are still being detained lawfully. This can be quite a lengthy process. Whilst doing this, I get informed that a decision has been made for the two people. They are both to be charged. One had a remand application attached to it (he’s alleged to have breached a restraining order, so will be staying, and taken to court in the morning) the other is being released under investigation. I therefore prepare the necessary risk assessments and get him up and released (not as straight forward and as quick as you may think) and then charge the other in the cell, informing him that he will be put before the court in the morning. At the same time, another person is brought in. He’s shouting abuse at the Officers as he is sat in the holding cell. I book him in and manage to build a bit of a rapport with him. He’s acting odd though and it’s difficult to ascertain if this is due to drug or alcohol intoxication, mental health, or an act. We go through the booking in process and he is taken to the cell. I request an HCP (health care professional) to see him, however, since being placed in a cell 5mins ago, he has requested to have a book changed that he was given. This was not done quick enough to his liking, and 30 seconds after requesting the swop, he has put his current book down the toilet, along with his pillow, and flooded the cell. He’s then began to urinate on the floor and kick and headbutt the cell door in anger, becoming extremely violent. My attempts to engage with him are met with a torrent of abuse. He’s too violent for the HCP to see him and I decide to monitor him on CCTV as opposed to restraining him. Especially as NHS advice is to contain as opposed to restrain. It’s a difficult decision to make, especially knowing that if it’s the wrong one, I will be investigated for a number of years after the event. He wears himself out and I return to speak with him. Eventually I persuade him to see the HCP in a clean cell which has had the water switched off. He does so and settles down. I then spend the next half hour or so typing this all up. The rest of the night runs through fairly smoothly. I book a few people in, but there’s no major issues. One thing is clear, nearly everyone coming in at the moment have all stated they have anxiety and depression. This is sometimes self-diagnosed, or they are on medication from the doctor. I’m sure this is a recent thing and since 5years or so ago, the number of people who I came into contact with at work who identify as having anxiety and depression has increased substantially. During the shift I need to let the air out of my bag, night shifts cause bloating for me it’s uncomfortable, but manageable. The picture is taken before and after a night shift. It’s 7am and I’m heading home. Kate and Maggie are up already and I come home to a cheese toastie, which I devour before climbing into bed. 


Do you share your bed? 

It’s daytime, I get the whole bed to myself, although Brian is asleep at the foot of the bed.

Which position do you tend to sleep in? e.g. foetus, starfish etc.

I’m on my side. I can sleep in any position with my bag, but I generally wake on my back due to the balloon on my tummy!!


What was your favourite part of your day?

Daddy Daughter time!

What was your least favourite? 

Watching someone headbutt the cell door, it’s difficult decision to have to make to monitor them and watch someone do this.

Did anything happen today that you'd like to change or re-do?


Did you 'learn' anything today? (use your own definition of this word to answer the question) 

I learnt more about myself. I was asked by colleagues about my decision to let someone headbutt the cell door, I learnt than I am confident in my decision making and am good at justifying and rationalising this decision. It will get criticism, but everyone has the right to do so and make their own decisions in these circumstances. 

Are you looking forward to tomorrow?

 It’ll be asleep for most of the day, then back in work for my last night shift of the set. I’m more looking forward to my rest days with my family.

What do you have planned?

I’ll think of something fun for us to do with Maggie

& ON INSTAGRAM: @ColitisCop

Ed also does a lot of work with the Purple Wings charity and has found support and encouragement from their organization. You can find out more about them here: https://twitter.com/purplewings_ibd

For more information on Ed's condition, please see the Crohns and Colitis UK site: https://www.crohnsandcolitis.org.uk/

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