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I am an airline pilot with UC who has lurked here for some time- I have managed to fly for some eight years now while managing my symptoms and keeping my medical and my job with a special FAA authorization and extra medical checks, but I am relying too much on prednisone and have exhausted pretty much every med without effect, so it may come down to surgery. Naturally, I am terrified of losing a career that I love and brings home the bacon. I also flight instruct on the side but both my primary and extra job are becoming problematic with constant simmering pain and sometimes flaring UC. (I never ever fly while flaring, by the way- but that means to many sick calls).

I would love to hear from any professional or military pilots with jpouches, or other aircrew or pilots. I understand there are many cops, firefighters and other people who cant just run to the bathroom any time, who still manage fine with jpouches, but I haven't see many post here. My surgical consultant assures me he has given other pilots jpouches. Would it be a terrible mistake with a job like mine? Many thanks.
Original Post
I am able to go 10+ hours between bathroom trips. I'm not a pilot but I wanted to let you know that you will probably be able to do an entire flight without having to take a break. With your j-pouch you'll learn what works best for you. There are medications and supplements that you can take to help (Lomotil is prescription so I don't know how it would show up on a drug test.)

If you decide on the j-pouch you could put off the final surgery for quite a while and live with an ileostomy. That would give you a tremendous amount of bathroom freedom.

I definitely don't think getting a j-pouch would be a mistake for you and/or your career. Ask your surgical consultant for the names of those other pilots so you can talk with them.

kathy Big Grin
I don't think it would be a terrible mistake provided everything goes well post surgery (which appears to be the norm). Once you have adapted to the new plumbing it should not hinder your career in any meaningful way.

I posted a related query a while back and was assured that there are other pilots out there with a pouch (including professional ones like yourself) and doing well. I have no reason to doubt that.

With respect to your medical, you also may no longer need a special issuance post surgery. At least I no longer need one to get my medical certificate. I'm now treated like every other pilot (private).

The only possible hitch I can think of is if you require medication such as loperamide (imodium). It is viewed as something acceptable only on a limited basis (I don't know how they define "limited", however). Something to keep in mind.
I am a flight attendant with a j pouch. Have had it working since take down in October 09. I was off work for 6 months from my colectomy surgery.
I am doing fine and sometimes can get thru my duty day without having to use the lav at all. I usually try to work earlier in the day, if possible.
I think you will do fine. Just make sure you can take enough time off initially when your pouch is new.
I am an Air Traffic Controller and have similar medical standards to pilots. I had J pouch surgery about 13 months ago as I had UC for about 5 years which was becomming difficult to manage. I was never really sick, just suffered from the usual urgency, and frequency etc. This is obviously not good when you are tied to a control position. Fortunately I have been an Operational Manager for some time so I was able to take bathroom breaks when I needed, although this was becomming more difficult. So I decided to have the surgery, as a one step procedure, to improve my health and quality of life. I am sad to say it hasn't worked out for me yet. I am still unable to get my medical back due to a difficult pouch. I never had any major complications after surgery, and structurally everything is fine, it's just that it doesn't like processing waste. I am still working on things to try to get back to normal, and am ofcourse very hopeful. I just wanted to tell you this because this surgery is risky. You don't know if you'll have a dream result or you'll have problems. Even the best surgeons have problem patients. It is the human body and it is complex. I know there are many people out there who have a wonderful life with a J pouch, and I hope if your decision is to have the surgery, that your outcome is great. Good luck.
What's the longest you're looking at in terms of having to deny yourself a bathroom and how long would you be able to give yourself to recover first? I won't lie, it can definitely be done but probably not soon without drastic measures. If you need to go 6+ hours - realistically it could be 12-18 months before you get to that point even if you take to the pouch well. You can do a lot of things like juggle medicine and diet but for the really long hauls it is going to be tough for you until, at absolute best, 6 months. You'd also have to look into what the effects of pouchitis or cuffitis would do. I'm assuming if you manage with UC you can manage with one of the -itis but something to think about.

I know several people that have similar positions that can't just run to the bathroom and do just fine. I know others that don't. The important thing to remember is you don't have to forever choose between your career and your health. Absolutely worst come to worst you can always revert the pouch back to an ostomy which absolutely can pass a class 1 medical and still leave you pain free. Obviously this isn't a great option if you can avoid it, but it is an option that will definitely let you keep your job.

 I’m having my stoma /Ileostomy  surgery in a couple weeks and I’m a flight attendant.  For those of you  Who are flight crew how long did you take off after having your bag placement?  Especially flight attendants we have no options for light duty and have job requirements of bending  twisting and lifting 50 pounds.  And the routes I’m working gives very little time when I’m inner Island in Hawaii to have bathroom breaks.  Boarding in the planning take longer than the actual flights themselves so it’s a constant run with 4-6legs  that are 25 minutes in the air with a  revised service.  I just found out a few days ago that I’m having the bag placed and I’m feeling very overwhelmed since this was never on my radar for treatment of my Crohn’s.  It’s a lot to wrap my head around.  It’s not permanent they’re hoping the Remicade will heal the damage in 3 to 6 months and then I have to go in for reversal surgery.  So I am trying to decide if I should just go on medical leave for six months.  I guess it depends on how long the healing process is that I can go back to full duty’s After each surgery?..

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