In less than one week I will be ostomy-free. Very exciting. In less than one week, I'll be back in the hospital. Bummer. I am having a lot of mixed feelings about this upcoming surgery. Though I am very much looking forward to not having an ileostomy any longer, I also have this nagging feeling that I should not put my body through any surgeries that are not 100% medically necessary. I could live the rest of my life with the ileostomy. It could actually be a very fulfilling one at that. So why risk it?
I guess the #1 reason why I am choosing to have this procedure is because the ileostomy is getting to be a pain. If I leave the house without my ostomy supplies (in case of leakage or emergencies), I begin to get anxiety similar to the anxiousness I would suffer when I had U.C, and I am not very good at remembering them. This past week I have had a terribly itchy and painful yeast infection at the ostomy site and it is proving very difficult to get rid of. I have been so uncomfortable that getting more than an hour or two of sleep has proved impossible. I have been told by my doctors that these are very common, especially in the summer. Your skin never has a chance to breathe since your ostomy appliance must be on 24/7, and this leads to a lot of moisture getting trapped inside. I also find it difficult to be away from a bathroom for longer than a few hours. While out running errands yesterday, I looked down to see a huge bulge on the right side of my abdomen. The bag was very full and since I have no feeling in my stoma, I had simply forgotten about it as I went about my busy day. While this is not a medical emergency, it is very embarrassing and it happens often.
So while this surgery isn't completely necessary, I do think I will have a chance at having an even greater quality of life after it is done and I find the prospect of this "new me" to be very exciting. I will be as close to my pre-Ulcerative Colitis self as I could ever hope to be, and I'd be crazy to not want that. Many people have asked me what the recovery time is from this next surgery and what my new body will be like. My surgeon has told me that after 2 weeks I would be able to return to work (but I lost my job because of all this, so that isn't really pertinent information for me!). The hospital stay should be 5-6 days. But getting used to my new organ will take much longer. After talking to other J-Pouchers, I have been told I can expect to spend the next 3-4 months re-learning how to use my muscles in that region, learning what I can and can't eat, and allowing the J-Pouch to stretch and expand naturally. When all is said and done, I will have to use the bathroom 6-10 times/day (it can take up to 1 year for the J-Pouch to reach it's full potential). So, from what I have been told, I will be back on my feet much quicker after this surgery, but will also be back in the bathroom quite a lot for a while. I have also heard that it is a more emotionally-distressing surgery. After surgery #1 you go from being very sick from your diseased colon to never having the urgency to use the bathroom at all. After surgery #2 you experience UC-like symptoms for a period of time, something that is not very easy to wrap your head around after going through a great deal to live a UC-free life.
Well, I'll know from first-hand experience soon enough! Oh, and get your tickets to our CCFA Benefit Concert at the Music Hall of Williamsburg!