confused doctor pointing at picture of an ostomy while patient facepalms

You Don't Know What a J-Pouch is, Do You?

Dear Doctors & Medical Professionals in General,

Living with an incurable illness is a challenge. Being diagnosed with an illness many have never heard of is annoying. Having to explain what a j-pouch is to medical professionals is downright frustrating and maddening.

Let me see your bag

I can’t tell you the number of times I have had a doctor or nurse ask to see my bag. Mind you, this is after I have already explained to them that I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis, had to have my colon removed, a temporary ostomy placed, and was now living with what’s called a j-pouch.

Some of you will wave your hands and say, “Oh, yes! I do know what that is.” Then you'll proceed to ask about my ostomy bag. Uh, I don’t have one, doc! Were you even listening?

Please allow me to introduce my j-pouch

Ok, I get it. Not many people know what a j-pouch is. In the medical community, it’s probably more commonly referred to as the Ileal-Pouch Anal Anastomosis. But even using that term will produce some awkward and confused looks from medical professionals.

And, ok, I understand that not every doctor or nurse is an expert on bowel issues. I totally get that. But please don’t insult me by pretending you know what a j-pouch is when you clearly don’t. I may not be a medical professional myself, but I am certainly capable of understanding the type of surgery I had to undergo and am able to articulate to you EXACTLY what my new plumbing is.

Ignorance isn’t the issue

I am not really that upset that you think my j-pouch is an ostomy. And yes! It is annoying that you still think I have a colostomy or colon when I have already told you that my colon was removed. When you state in my chart that I’ve had a reversal, that’s also irritating; but still, that isn’t the issue. No, your lack of knowledge about my plumbing isn’t what bothers me.

The thing that is disturbing is that you won’t admit that you don’t know what a j-pouch is. If you don’t know, it’s better that you ask questions instead of being unable to admit that you don’t know. It doesn’t help build trust between us. It just makes you look like a jerk.

Non-medical professionals

Even my friends, many of whom are NOT in the medical field, know what a j-pouch is. If they don’t, they’ll ask me. Even mere acquaintances are not afraid to ask me about my j-pouch. They aren’t afraid of admitting to the fact that they don’t know the difference between an ileostomy and a colostomy. They ask questions about an ostomy versus a j-pouch. And honestly? I’m more than happy to answer!

So, dear doctors and nurses, I honestly have no problems with you personally. My problem is purely that you are lying to me about your knowledge of a j-pouch. I’m merely asking that you be honest and upfront with me. And PLEASE ask me questions. I’m more than willing to answer.

Sincerely, Every J-Pouch Patient

By providing your email address, you are agreeing to our privacy policy.

More on this topic

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Join the conversation

or create an account to comment.