Making the Decision for Surgery
Believe it or not, if you have Crohn’s disease, you might have to have surgery sometime in your life. Of course, you do your best to avoid any type of surgery, but there are times when even the strongest medication doesn’t do justice. I ran into this problem by November 2007. I was getting double-doses of Remicade, a strong IV medication used to regulate severe IBD.
The recommendation for surgery
After no relief, my GI doctors recommend me to have my colon removed. The proper name for the surgery is “Total Colectomy, Ileo-Anal J-Pouch surgery.” What that means is that the surgeon was going to remove my complete large intestine. He would create a fake colon called a j-pouch. A j-pouch is made out of the small intestine that would connect to the rectum. It’s a two-fold surgery.
During the first part, they would create the j-pouch, but it would need time to heal. During the three-month healing process, an ostomy bag would be attached to my stomach as a way for me to eliminate waste. After three months I would return for another surgery to have the colostomy reversed, allowing me to use the bathroom like a regular person.
The decision of whether or not to have surgery
The surgery sounded really complicated! I was nervous but I had to make a life choice. My choice was to run to the bathroom fifty to sixty times a day, or get the surgeries done and use the restroom maybe ten times a day. I think you and I both know the answer to that question!
Before you make any big decisions about stomach surgery, please do your research. I am not saying go on any old website. Choose websites that are credible sources of information. Then speak to others. See their experience and feedback. The great thing about the city of Philadelphia is that we have many talented surgeons when it comes to bowel surgeries. That doesn’t mean that you can’t find one closer to where you live.
Finding a good doctor to do the surgery
I was told to visit Dr. John Rombeau, a world-renown colorectal surgeon. He was at the University of Pennsylvania Hospital for close to thirty years until 2005 when he moved to Temple University Hospital. He was considered one of the founding fathers of colorectal surgery. I did my research on this gentleman and soon found out I was dealing with the top colorectal surgeon in the world!
But my mind was not set yet. I had to have a consultation with him first. Please make sure you schedule an appointment with your surgeon and make sure you meet with the person who is doing the surgery! Not his or her nurse, or chief resident. When I met with Dr. Rombeau, I noticed he was an older gentleman, which concerned me at first. Two hours later, I was convinced that I wanted the surgery. But did I have to have it done by him?
A second opinion for surgery
He went through step by step what he would do when removing my colon. He also told me all the risks, and what to expect before, during, and after the surgery. I felt very comfortable around him, but I wanted to get a second opinion. I wanted a fresh set of eyes to take a look at me and to guarantee me I need to get this surgery done. All and all you should get a second opinion. Always!
I visited two more surgeons in the area but was not completely sold on their bedside mannerisms. John Rombeau was the man that I would allow to change my life forever! I put my life into his hands...
What type of IBD have you been diagnosed with?