How I Was Cured of Ulcerative Colitis: What Happens After Your Colon Is Removed
Can You Cure an Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)?
There are only two types of inflammatory bowel diseases: ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease. They are both very similar and relatively prevalent, affecting one million people. A half-million of them having Crohn's and a half million who have ulcerative colitis. I had ulcerative colitis. I say had because I had my colon removed. Does that mean an IBD can be cured?
Well, yes and no.
There is essentially a cure for ulcerative colitis since it only affects the colon. Believe it or not, we can live without a colon, so if we have the colon removed, the disease is gone.
Crohn's disease, on the other hand, can never be cured. It affects your entire digestive system from your mouth to your anus. Even if only a portion of your digestive tract infected, if you have that portion removed, another part could easily flare up with the same disease. Therefore, you can never truly be cured of Crohn's.
The Deceptive Truth of Curing Ulcerative Colitis
I am cautious about recommending anyone having their colon removed to cure ulcerative colitis because, in some ways, you are trading one illness for another set of digestive issues. The first couple of years after the colectomy, the removal will impact your everyday life.
1. You may have to eat differently due to scar tissue caused by the surgery. Scar tissue may cause blockages in your intestines. Blockages cause the most horrendous pain you can experience. There is continual vomiting every few seconds that can't be controlled or suppressed, and it's not an intermittent pain that comes and goes. It is a constant stabbing, severe debilitating pain that puts you on your knees with tears in your eyes. As long as you are cautious about adding new foods, you can avoid having this happen to a certain extent. My blockages were caused by pears, popcorn, and one other time that I cannot pinpoint a food.
2. You will go to the bathroom numerous times a day, and your stool will always be somewhat loose. At first, I went around ten times a day, which is a step better than my 20 plus bathroom trips before I was hospitalized and had an emergency colectomy, but it was still not pleasant. As my j-pouch (a created pouch to work as a colon) adjusted, I went to the bathroom less and less. Now, I probably go six times a day or less, and none of them are urgent!
3. Your stool will be loose. Honestly, I rarely ever hear a Kerplunk in the bathroom. I know TMI, but if you suffer from this, you probably won't either, which doesn't bother me most days. Early on, it did because my bottom would sometimes have rashes that I had to put Desitin on (these rashes are often referred to as butt-burn because of your butt burns). Some of the less severe butt-burns made me imagine being one of those dogs that drags their butt on the ground. Don't' worry, I never did, but I always itched.
Butt-burn took about two years before it was not a daily occurrence, and probably three before Desitin stopped being a staple in my house. Now, I only use it when I have the stomach flu, and my normal soft stool becomes water. The worse part about watery stools is that your body cannot detect a watery stool as a stool when you're sleeping. It thinks it's gas, and you can mess the bed. So if I know my stomach is off, I wake myself up periodically and sleep on a towel, usually separate from my husband. It's gross, but it's part of life. Someone seriously considering this choice, needs to know the gross and the uncomfortable.
Becoming Disease Free
The bottom line is, I don't recommend you have the surgery to cure your ulcerative colitis unless you are suffering from a severe case. For me, severe meant 20 plus stools, constant vomiting, and an emergency visit that turned into a month-long hospital stay, and the doctor saying, "If you don't get this surgery now, you could die." Maybe you shouldn't wait that long.
If you do go under the knife, don't expect to wake up and be completely healed. Your body will never be normal, but sometimes slightly abnormal is better than perpetually sick. Also, there are a lot of complications that can be caused by having the surgeries. A small sample of my side-effects of the operation include severe scar tissue, infertility, numerous abscesses that led to three surgeries, blockages, fear of sleeping with the stomach flu, six bowel movements a day, butt-burn, pulmonary embolism).
Do I regret having the surgery, of course not, I wouldn't have survived otherwise? Am I thankful for it? Yes! Do I wish I had gotten it sooner? No, because if I had gotten it before my disease got severe, I might have felt there was no real improvement, and being upset at myself for losing my fertility.
If you have any questions and are considering this procedure, feel free to ask me anything. I'm pretty open about it, and not afraid to answer the TMI questions!
Living With an Ostomy
Living with an ostomy can be embarrassing at times. I had one for only six months of my life, and it was one of the hardest parts of all my surgeries and illnesses. I made it through with the help and advice of others.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
Questions & Answers
What is the cause of Ulcerative Colitis?
Unfortunately, it is currently unknown as to what the actual cause is. It is known that heredity genes play a part.Helpful 5
My son's been out of work with C. Diff. Colitis. He's on numerous medications and is still contagious. How long can he go on with this?
Any requests for medical advice need to be directed towards your doctor. C. Diff. Colitis and ulcerative colitis are two different diseases. Ulcerative colitis is not contagious.Helpful 6
© 2010 Angela Michelle Schultz