By any chance is there anyone in the Orange County California area that would be willing/able to sit and chat in person (or even on the phone actually)?
Tovia, also ask your surgeon if he / she has a list of patients who are willing to talk with new patients. They are called "peer patients" and they have been through the procedure with your surgeon and his team, they know the ups and downs, and can help others with advice, or they will simply listen to you. Before my surgery I talked with three of my surgeon's patients. I wanted patients at various stages: recent; one permanent stoma; and one long term j poucher. I made a long list of questions and they answered all of them and gave me alot of support and alleviated a lot of fear. All done over the phone.
Awesome idea I hadn't thought of yet. Thank you Winterberry!