Hello Fellow Pouchers! It's been quite a bit of time since I've been on this site. I get notifications in my email every once in a while that someone posted a new topic and today it made me think that I should take some time to revisit to share my story with everyone. I was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis back in 2003 which was when I was 20 years old. I didn't really understand the severity of the disease or how it could totally change my entire life. I took it more as something I would be able to just take some medicine when I got a flare up and then the medicine would take care of it in a week or so and I was back to business as usual. All who have struggled with this disease knows that's not the case. In my ignorance I contiunued on a path of recklessness, eating the way I wanted and drinking alcohol very consistently and heavily. Man if I knew then what I know now I would have lived way differently but I guess that is a saying we can use for a lot of areas of our lives right?! So, I continue on with my prideful thoughts that I am young and invincible and this thing isn't gonna get the best of me or hold me down from doing what I want to do in life. For a good 10 years i rode the rollercoaster of being sick, being hospitalized, getting better, being sick, being hospitalized, getting better. During this time I was working a high stress sales job, trying to maintain a marriage that was falling apart at the seems, and raising three children. We all know the most common enemy to this disease is STRESS! My life was completely riddled with it. So after a good ten years of trying to drag myself through from one day to the next and having every type of medicine you can think of thrown at me, I found myself in the hospital yet again. Obviously none of the medicine they tried on me brought me to the place of remission but I must also admit the reckless stressful lifestyle I was living wasn't helping matters either. So what was next for me? Well, my GI dr decided that surgery would be the best option since I have now battled this disease for a decade with no avail and my colon looked like it was run through a meat grinder. He mentioned also that after active flare ups for this long I was really high risk of colon cancer. The c word was like poison to my ears. At the age of 18 I watched my mom battle lung cancer and lose her battle in a quick and horrific way. I wasn't willing to take that risk for me or my children. I spoke with the local colorectal surgeon that day in the hospital and he mentioned a variety of surgeries that I could elect for, but seemed really adamant that the J-Pouch surgery was the way to go since I was still young and active. I neglected to do my own research not only on the surgery itself but the best drs and facilities to have this surgey done. Once again showing my ignorance I just said let's go for it. My first surgery to remove my colon took 10 hours. I was told it would only take 4. As I woke up from the anesthesia I questioned why it was 10pm instead of 4pm like they said and the answer I got from the nurse was that "perfection takes time" (eye roll). I was wondering after that what else I was missing besides my colon since it took so long. The surgery was performed laproscopically which is what I opted into originally. Not too long after that in my recovery I noticed something wasn't right. All the way from my thigh up the right side of my body was turning green. Yes you guessed it I was a victim of sepsis. I was taken in for emergency surgery where of course this time they had to slice me right down the middle. This wasn't the start I expected nor desired. It was rough for quite sometime. Then of course back into surgery for the reversal of the ileostomy bag and reconnecting the jpouch. This was the beginning of my new life on pain meds and everything else you can think of to take care of my sleep, anxiety, depression, blah blah blah. Little did I know 3 1/2 years later it would gift me with a 22 day stay in rehab for an inevitable pill addiction. Within those three years were many ups and downs but never days without meds. I was lost, confused, broken, and numb. When I got a little better in the process I separated from my wife and went to live on my own. I knew the stress of the marriage would most likely kill me. It was tough dealing with divorce and custody battles and still the unsurity of when or will I ever completely recover from this horror. Another rollercoaster ride just like when I was battling colitis but it actually seemed worse. I'm not saying all this to discourage you from this operation because there are many successful stories on here. This is just my story. Unfortunately the surgery never worked out the way I expected. Within those three years I also had many other surgeries that ended up bringing my total under the knife to 30+ hours. I was plagued with infections, some that came close to almost taking me out. After all the pain and struggle and hardship I finally gave in and made the decision to stick with the ileostomy bag. I can tell you that was one of the best decisions I have ever made in my life but not the best. The best decision I ever made was after my 22 days in rehab I made a decision to open the doors of the church right down the road from where I lived and I found myself at the alter that day surrendering my life to the Lord. I spent 2 months in the hospital before rehab weighing in at 130lb and standing 6'1" so sick and malnurished that my hair was slowly falling out of my head. This isn't a sad story for me and it shouldn't be for you either. It's through the grace of God that I am here today. I'm a healthy 210lb active 38 year old that works a full time job where i spend 4-5 hours out of my eight hour day on the road without the anxiety of wondering where the closest bathroom is. I found freedom in making the decision to stick with the ileostomy bag after fighting it for so long. I'm in the most wonderful relationship with the most beautiful woman I couldn't have even ever imagined. I also now have a good relationship with my ex-wife as we continue to co-parent the best way we know how and I get to spend lots of time with my beautiful children which is a blessings because my days being sick I never thought I was going to be able to be involved much in their lives. The disease made me feel like an outsider to the entire world. I look to God for the peace and joy that I live with today and my life has changed in such a way it could only be explained as a miracle. Once again I'm not telling this story to get anyone down but rather to bring hope and to let you know sometimes when you feel down, sometimes when it looks like there's no way out, sometimes when it feels like the world is crubbling around you, there is still hope. Nothing is impossible for God!! Keep fighting the good fight! God Bless!!
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