I’ve been waiting months to have an appointment at Mount Sinai hospital with the colorectal surgeon as a consult for my next steps. And today was that day. As excited as I was, I left feeling scatter brained and confused burdened with a very emotional decision.
The choice to have J-Pouch comes with a great responsibility. A responsibility to myself to really consider my options and what I want from my life. Unfortunately how a single 26 year old is supposed to decide what she wants from life, is beyond me.
I’ve done my due diligence of research and conversations with doctors and surgeons to know what to expect. However today’s appointment put things into reality. First of all, she confirmed that the process would be done in 2 steps. 2 more surgeries. 2 more recoveries. And 2 more times I must wait to heal, to move on. Second of all, it was my first very real conversation about fertility and the effects these 2 surgeries will have on my ability to conceive AND carry.
Let me dial it back and give a brief description of what the process will involve. The first surgery will be the more invasive, larger operation. In this procedure, she will remove my rectum, build a J-Pouch, and form a loop ileostomy. Using my small intestine, she will create a pouch attached to my anus, formed like a “J” (hence the name), which will eventually act like my rectum. This is where waste will be stored until I go the washroom. A new ostomy will be formed using bowel from about 60 cm higher from my current one. Although this surgery is bigger, the recovery in hospital is approximately 5-7 days with 6 weeks of rest and recovery. The second surgery will be the takedown. This is where my stoma will be removed, and connected to the J-Pouch, allowing me to use the washroom like a “normal” person. This surgery is shorter, however the recovery will be longer, as I retrain my bowel to function.
Now because these surgeries are done in my pelvic region, there are a lot of nerves that could be damaged, and scar tissue left. Which is where fertility issues come into play. Because the scar tissue would be around my reproductive organs my ability to conceive and carry is compromised. 20% of the normal female population has difficulty getting pregnant. My risk goes up to 40%. IF I am in that 40% who has difficulty, invetro fertilization is an option…until I’m 35. After that chances are very slim that invetro would work. So my internal clock would now be ticking a little louder than your average woman.
I knew this information going into the appointment. Like I said, I did my research. I went in there thinking I would cross the fertility bridge when I came to it. I did not want to compromise my current happiness and my current life for a future what if. You can’t play that What If game because you wont ever know. The truth is, as happy and healthy I feel with my ostomy, I still hate it. It’s annoying, its expensive, it gives me anxiety and my confidence is generally lowered because of it. If I’m not even confident enough to date then how the hell am I supposed to get pregnant? So I went into that appointment ready to book the surgery.
And that’s what I did. September 23rd I am tentatively booked in for surgery # 2. I’m excited and ready to keep this process going. I’m confident in my decision yet I assure you, it did not come lightly. That weight it something I carry in my heart and I take very seriously. I look at women who struggle getting pregnant or who dream of being a mom. That’s never been me. If I do get pregnant one day I no doubt will be thrilled. But I can’t say at this time that if I don’t get pregnant, I would be devastated either. I am aware of the magnitude this could potentially have, but cannot predict the future and cannot keep putting my life on hold. So that’s where I am…..waiting.