5 Tips for Living with a J-Pouch
Last updated: June 2023
Last week, I reached a milestone in my ulcerative colitis treatment. I can officially say that I've been living with a relatively happy and cooperative J-pouch for 2 years.
Getting here hasn't been easy. And honestly, living with a J-pouch is far from ideal... But thankfully, I've managed to have a very successful time with it.
What will happen if my J-pouch fails?
I am happy with my J-pouch overall, but I know that at any moment, I do have a chance of it failing. If it does fail, I know that I can always go back to an ostomy. Which wasn't as bad as I thought it was going to be. J-pouch or ostomy, life is much better now than it was when I was living with a diseased colon.
There are a few things about my J-pouch that have been bothersome. But over time, I've learned how to cope with them. Some tips, if you will, on how to live comfortably with a J-pouch. And today, I'd like to share those with you.
Dealing with J-pouch gas and gas pain
Gas pain is probably the number 1 complaint of all J-pouchers. The gurgling and churning can be maddening. Not only is it so noisy it will sometimes embarrass you in public, but it can also be uncomfortable... and on the rare occasion, painful.
I've tried anti-gas medications, but none of those have proved to be very helpful. The only way I've managed to relieve the gas discomfort and pain is by passing it. This sounds like a no-brainer, I know.
However, what you need to know is that passing gas with a J-pouch must be done with extreme caution. While it's taken me almost 2 years to be able to do this successfully (i.e., without making a mess), I've only done this while lying down.
I tried this when I was fresh out of my takedown surgery and it ended up being a mistake. Because of the accidents that can occur, most days I only attempt to pass gas while sitting on a toilet.
The smell of a J-pouch
The smell is a bit difficult to get used to. It doesn't smell like your average, uh... waste. To me, the smell is stronger. Something I've found very useful is toilet drops or sprays. You put the product in the toilet before you go and it greatly reduces the odor.
Some people swear by matches. Matches? Yes. Simply strike a match or two and blow them out. It does seem to mask the smell a great deal, so I would say it's definitely a viable option.
Noise and public bathrooms
Going to the bathroom in public has always been difficult for me. For many reasons. But now it's even worse!
Unfortunately, for me anyway, going to the bathroom with a J-pouch is extremely noisy. I have yet to find a way to mask the noise. The only thing that really helps is either: a) using the courtesy flush; or b) waiting for someone else to flush. Otherwise, your J-pouch will sing the song of its people very, very loudly.
What type of colitis are you living with?
A messy part of having ulcerative colitis
When I had a diseased colon, bowel movements were always a very messy business. Little did I know, J-pouches are 10 times worse. I can clean the toilet and by the time my next bowel movement is over, it looks as though I never cleaned it at all.
This is very bothersome for me—especially when I'm visiting someone else's house. Not everyone keeps a toilet brush in plain sight, so what you might consider doing is investing in 1 of those toilet brushes with a disposable head. It may be somewhat of a hassle, but at the end of the day, I feel it is only polite for me to clean up the mess my J-pouch made.
Why does butt burn with a J-pouch happen?
Finally, I think another big issue that almost every J-poucher deals with is the butt burn. This happens because of the frequency and the digestive enzymes that come along with bowl movements.
You didn't have to worry about that much with a healthy colon, but with a J-pouch, it can be the bane of your existence if you don't keep it under control. I actually have a few tips that I can pass along here.
Tips to cope with UC butt burn
The first is when you're wiping: pat, don't rub. This reduces irritation when you're wiping. You might consider investing in wet wipes or a quality toilet paper.
Another device you should seriously consider is the absolutely amazing bidet! A bidet is basically a contraption that squirts water on your bottom to clean you off. After you rinse your bottom, you just pat it dry with some toilet paper.
The last product I would recommend is a good diaper cream. I have my favorites, but it really has to do with personal preference. Some of them are very messy, but I'm telling you, the stuff makes all the difference in the world.
Tips on living comfortably with a J-pouch
So there you have it. My tips on living with a J-pouch. Please never hesitate to contact me about what life with a J-pouch is like. I am always reading and learning about J-pouches and love connecting with people!
How about you? Do you have any strategies or tips for those with a J-pouch? Share in the comments!
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