Hello! I apologize in advance this is so long. I've had UC 14 years. I only have Xeljanz left to try, and since none of the other biologics have worked for me, I have little hope that Xeljanz will do anything. I've begun to seriously look into j-pouch surgery now, and had a consult with a local surgeon a few months ago. However, I'm stressing out about choosing the "right" surgeon.
I live in Indiana, and I'm an established patient with a local colo-rectal surgeon whom I really like. She's been seeing me for an unrelated ongoing condition since 2015, and she has done one minor outpatient procedure on me and many in-office visits and treatments. She's one of the best doctors I've ever seen (and I'm very picky). She has amazing bedside manner, she is smart, she explains things well and thoroughly, she gives me plenty of time to ask all my questions, her staff is timely and kind. In short, I trust her and I also really like her.
However, the only problem I'm struggling with is her office doesn't see many j-pouch surgeries, and a few people online who have j-pouches all told me how important it is that I go to a surgeon who has done hundreds of j-pouches. My local surgeon said she only does about 1-2 j-pouches a year. When I kindly expressed my hesitancy about this, she told me creating the j-pouch is not a difficult surgery and she sounded confident in her ability to do the surgery. I know she treats a lot of cancer patients and does other colo-rectal surgeries all the time. I spoke to one of her patients who had Crohn's and had a temporary bag with a successful reversal and she had nothing but good things to say about our surgeon, but that patient did not have a j-pouch. They weren't able to connect me with a past patient of hers who has had the j-pouch done, which I found a little odd, but maybe since she only does 1 or 2 a year, there just aren't that many patients to choose from. She has 5-star ratings across the board on all the online "rate-a-doctor" platforms that I've seen.
I live about 6 hours away from the Cleveland Clinic. They no longer allow people in Indiana to do telehealth visits for their initial visit, so if I want to even have a consult with them, I first need to see a GI in person and then I guess a surgeon thereafter. If it was a little closer, there would be no question in my mind, and I would go there since they are supposed to be the best. However, needing to drive that far away 3, 4 or possibly 5 times and also being that far away from my surgeon in case I have any complications post-surgery, seems totally overwhelming and not ideal to me. Part of this is that I have a needy pet at home who is extremely aggressive with anyone but me and she is my whole world. I feel extremely anxious about leaving her alone for longer than a few days and if I went to Cleveland, that would add 2 days' of driving onto each visit. Plus, a 6-hour drive home after surgery doesn't sound like it would be pleasant. Without going into too much detail, I don't have much of a support system where I live and it's also very hard to just have someone come check on her since she is so aggressive with everyone but me.
Am I way overthinking all of this? Can someone please help me make this decision?
In summary: I would much rather just go to my local surgeon with whom I already have a positive relationship, but I obviously don't want a bad outcome and to end up worse off than I am dealing with my UC.