Disclaimer: I am by no means an expert or doctor so this information may not be 100% accurate. Everything here is based on my own knowledge from conversations with doctors and research I’ve done. I apologize if I don’t use all the correct terminology.
Several people have asked me to explain exactly what will be done with the surgery so I’m going to try and clarify it the best I can.
Ulcerative Colitis is an Inflammatory Bowel Disease cause by an autoimmune disease. For reasons unknown my immune system attacks my large bowel causing inflammation. The word colitis can also be used as an adjective to describe basic inflammation of the bowel. Other reasons besides IBD can cause colitis like C-Diff (the bacterial infection I had in April). Ulcerative Colitis though is the specific disease, which for me causes bleeding, diarrhea, increased urgency and frequency. This is what could not be controlled all year.
The surgery I am having is a complete colectomy, which is the removal of my colon (large intestine). They are removing the whole thing since if they left some, my body would attack that part anyways. You can’t have colitis if you don’t have a bowel, so essentially this procedure is a cure.
The operation will be done laproscopically meaning there won’t be a large incision and it will be minimally invasive, using cameras. They will pull out the large intestine through an opening in my stomach to be sent for pathology and disposal. They will then pull a portion of my small intestine (ileum) through the opening (stoma), creating an ileostomy. It kind of looks like a little clown’s nose. This is where waste will be eliminated.
They will also suture shut a portion of my rectum that is left inside. By them leaving the rectum in my body, this allows for the second surgery to be possible, where the small intestine is reconnected (J-Pouch). This will be done in hopefully about 6 months.
After surgery I will have to wear a ileostomy bag used to collect the waste. The ones the hospital will give me are a 2-part product. The first part fits around the stoma and sticks to my abdomen using adhesives. The second part clips on kind of like a Tupper wear container. Waste is emptied from the bottom of the bag about 4-5 times a day when it’s about a third full. The whole bag itself is changed about once a week.
Complications from the surgery:
– If the bowel is so sick it starts to break, they may have to open up using a large incision to remove it
– If the rectal stump is too sick and sutures don’t hold, it will also have to be removed and I will not be eligible for the J-Pouch surgery (1-5% chance)
– After pathology if it is determined I actually have a diagnosis of Crohn’s colitis (inflammation of the large bowel actually caused by Crohn’s), then I am also not eligible for the second surgery. (10% chance)
– Bleeding, hernia, infection – all the regular types of complications that could happen from any surgery.
The whole thing will take about 4 hours and then I will be in the hospital for about a week after to recover and be trained on how to properly use and clean the bag system. I find it’s better to know exactly what’s going on so I’m not surprised and so I can completely understand what the doctors are talking about. It takes some of the uncertainty away and puts my mind at ease a little bit.