I have a friend whose husband went through this last year; DD has a playdate with her eldest on my only appointment free day before the op, so I invite myself along to get the inside track.
Very rudely, I am late as I am trying to finish a piece of work that I don't have to finish, but I want to finish, as some kind of normality and also to avoid dumping it on colleagues and/or someone not doing it the way I want it done. TN is looking after the children in the garden whilst my friend - let's call her Q - and I talk. It's the first time I've really spoken to her about it and it all comes pouring out: how little support she got, how horrendous the stoma and the bags were, how they nearly got landed with an enormous bill for her DH's chemo because the insurance company wouldn't pay out. And she picked all of this up, dealt with it all, ran around after her DH and two children, to the extent that she made herself seriously ill. There is one comedy point: apparently if you drink Bovril, it makes what comes out of the stoma turn blood red - there was an urgent call to the hospital that night before they worked out what was going on. Bless her, she is clearly concerned that she is scaring me, but I still haven't connected this with me and am more distressed at how horrendous it has been for her. She does give me the confidence that we're doing the right thing in being open with the children, as they were with theirs and our DDs are very similar in age and personality, so that's reassuring.
We finish the conversation sat on the sofas in her sitting room, watching the girls and a friend perform Cinderella. We keep getting told off for talking during the performance. Nothing like children for keeping you grounded!