Friday, December 23, 2011

In Anticipation of an Emotional New Year!

2011. What a year. It began with a fairly serious flare of Ulcerative Colitis, not my worst clinically, but my worst emotionally as I knew what the failure of the last-ditch medication, Remicade, signalled. Here was my year in a nutshell:

January: Successful infusion of the chemotherapy drug, Remicade. Hopeful for remission.

February: UC flare exacerbated.

March: Remicade infusion induces anaphylactic shock. Within two weeks I had lost my job and was in the hospital undergoing a major open abdominal surgery that entailed a panproctocolectomy (removal of large intestine and rectum), ileoanal anastamosis (creation of a new rectum-like organ using the ileum, aka end of small intestine), and creation of ileostomy (a hole created on the right side of my abdomen where my small intestine was pulled through. The small intestine had a small hole whereby stool would pass into an external bag).

April: Readmitted to hospital with extensive PVT (Portal Vein Thrombosis), bladder infection, and paralytic ileus. The PVT, blood clots in the portal and mesenteric veins leading to the liver, required a 24-hour heparin infusion to begin anticoagulation proceess, week-long hospital stay, then twice-daily self-injected Lovenox shots, four CT Scans to monitor, daily Coumadin, and weekly INR monitoring for three months until my takedown surgery.

May: Continuation of weekly INR monitoring at primary care physician. Extensive work-up with Hematologist and Vascular Surgeon to check for genetic predispostion to clotting and to monitor PVT. Continued to heal from extensive abdominal surgery and emotionally adjust to ileostomy.

June: Began with pouchagram, a radiological imaging to check J-Pouch for leaks and assess it's usability/determine whether it is ready for takedown surgery. This procedure is painful as your pouch is not quite healed, be sure to make sure radiology team knows what a pouchagram is if you need to undergo this procedure! My takedown surgery took place at the end of June and was, thankfully, successful. After a week-long hospitalization, I was sent home without an ileostomy and full use of my J-Pouch. Downside was I had a very large and deep hole in my abdomen from where the ileostomy used to be which needed careful monitoring because...

July: Readmitted to hospital with abscess under old ileostomy site. After four more days of intravenous antibiotics, I was able to skirt an IR (Interventional Radiology) surgery to drain abscess and was able to return home.

August: Return of abscess. Thankfully, did not require hospitalization, but did require careful monitoring and wound care.

September: Started a job!! Finally feeling well enough to get back to work.

October: I got married (check out quick slideshow of event)!!! To the most wonderful man on earth (Dad, you're the most wonderful too). Also took the trip of my lifetime to Bora, Bora in French Polynesia. Life was good.

November: Rushed to hospital via ambulance at 3am while experiencing severe abdominal pain. After four days of monitoring with NG tube, the doctors were finally able to get a clear CT image and I was taken into surgery. The scar tissue from my previous surgeries caused a complete SBO (small bowel obstruction). My surgeon had to make another large incision through the middle of my abdomen to lyse the adhesions and free my bowel while doing an exploratory laparotomy. Thankfully, no resection was required as a piece of bowel that was dying revived itself. After 11 days of NPO (no food or water) and 11 days in the hospital, I returned home for another recovery.

December: Returned to work, enjoyed a late Thanksgiving feast, and am now looking forward to a wonderful Christmas and hopeful for a healthy New Year.

2011 saw the highest and lowest moments of my life. Many lessons were learned and many experiences were had. I just hope 2012 is less eventful.

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and Happy New Year to all of my blog readers! You have been such a wonderfully supportive piece of the intricate puzzle that was this past year. This blog has been read more than 8,000 times by people in over 60 countries and I hope that you will keep reading to see how 2012 pans out. Hopefully, I will be able to provide some insight into J-Pouch life at its best.


  1. Wow all of this made my heart drop, thank you so much for writing about all of this..I am crying right now because my battle with uc has been 12 years and remicade isn't really working for me either and I meet with a surgeon on Tuesday....again thank you so much for writing about all your experiences

    1. Hi there!!!

      Thank you for reading! I am so sorry to hear you are going through all that, but one thing I can promise you is you're going to be fine. The prospect of surgery is super frightening, but it will lead to a much fuller and healthier life. In a strange way, I wouldn't trade my experiences with UC/surgery for anything as they have given me a perspective on life that most healthy people can never have. Just take it as it comes and do your best to make lemonade of lemons. Your perspective is a very powerful thing and will determine how these surgeries will change your life. If you let them, they will make it so, so much better.

      Best of luck, and apologies for my super-delayed response. I'd love to know how you're doing and to answer any specific questions you might have! Feel free to drop me a line:

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