Saying Goodbye (to My Colon)
“It’s so weird knowing that a part of me is going to die.” I said with an emptiness that couldn’t be described.
“I don’t want to think about it like that…” My husband responded, looking uneasy.
I was just days away from having my colon removed
I had lived with this colon for 29 years of my life, and soon, it would be no more. Sure, my colon treated me poorly the last three years… but it was still a part of me. It contained my DNA. A part of me was going to die… and it was kind of creepy when I thought about it.
When I called my mother to tell her that I had to have surgery, she broke down in tears. She didn’t want me to go through the pain, but she also knew what it was like to have a piece of you taken away. When she was 18, she lost eight inches of her colon to Crohn’s disease. My aunt called me to make sure I was ok. I wasn’t. But I pretended to be.
Surgery for UC is a big deal
But honestly, I didn’t realize the impact that it has on a person until I had to experience it for myself.
With most losses, you mourn after the fact. With the knowledge that I was going to lose a part of me ahead of time, I mourned beforehand. But not right away. I held back. I kept my feelings numb. I knew there was a chance I would have a better life without my colon that had tortured me for so long, but deep down I had buried my true emotions.
In the days leading up to surgery, I did cry several times... I surprised myself. Yes, a part of me was going to be dead... but again, there was hope. Around 96% of patients who end up having the j-pouch surgery go on to live normal lives. It was difficult to hold fast to that hope, however. The years of living with ulcerative colitis make a huge impact on you.
Hope for a better quality of life with a j-pouch
The reason for needing the surgery, after all, was because I kept failing the medications and my body became steroid dependent. I was used to putting my hope and faith in a medication only to be crushed by the heavy blow of disappointment when the medications didn’t deliver the promise of relief. Dare I hope that a j-pouch would give me a better quality of life?
I went into surgery on that cold April morning. Still shoving down my emotions. I teared up several times when I got back to the prep room. What was life going to be like on the other side? I don’t think I fully accepted the reality, nor did I have the resolve that I was going to go through with it until I had to do the saline enema. It was a painful experience that I never want to have again!
I remember sitting in pain on the toilet afterward as my colon expelled a whole lot of blood. It lasted for what seemed like an hour, but when it was over, I looked at my husband and said, "This isn’t a mistake. I know that now."
I don’t remember a lot of what happened after that, but I do remember waking up to my new life sans-colon. I was in pain, but it was a different kind of pain. My body was no longer focused on attacking my diseased organ. I have not mourned my colon since that day – in fact, I say good riddance! I love my J-pouch. And I would totally go through the surgery over again if I had to.
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