Take a journey back to 1999, when cellphones were a rarity, dial-up internet access was still in use, and Amber had her first surgery of the 2-step j-pouch process. Amber’s husband Mike, a writer and communicator, journaled his thoughts on the day of the surgery. This journal was recently uncovered and Amber reads it to Mike and gets his reactions and further recollections of that challenging day.
Recently, during an interview, I was asked to talk about what I couldn’t do because of my IBD or my j-pouch. I may have visibly bristled at the question, though I tried to mask this initial negative reaction. I did think about how to formulate an answer–probably for a good solid minute. In the end, I couldn’t come up with anything.
The interviewer made a few suggestions, but they were things that I don’t dwell on, such as dietary restrictions. Having some dietary restrictions is not something I think about often. I can absolutely still eat all kinds of healthy food as well as not so healthy, yet tasty, food like chocolate, and also have a cocktail. I no longer see food as an obstacle or a problem, because I’ve worked out my diet and I pretty much stick with what I know at this point. Therefore, this is not something I ruminate about or concern myself with too much.
Below includes my experience of miscarriage. Please note this includes a frank discussion of pregnancy loss and medical treatment for such, as well as strong language.
I never thought I’d be writing about miscarriage. To tell the truth, I kind of don’t want to do it now. But I’ve come to realize that holding back is harmful to me, and imparts the feeling that my experiences didn’t serve any purpose. Not that everything that happens has a reason or a purpose, but I have the ability to take this part of my life and turn it into something positive.
At the risk of sounding aged and out-of-touch, daily life was much different when I was diagnosed and even 10 years later when I had my j-pouch surgeries. No smart phones. No Internet. No digital photos. Most people didn’t have computers. A lot of people didn’t own cameras.
This is why there are no pictures of me. There are no photos of me battling ulcerative colitis in my hospital bed. No photos of my stoma. My wasted, 89 pound body. The skin peeling off the bottom of my feet. The blood transfusion. The voluminous amounts of gelatin I ate when my body could tolerate nothing else. There are no images of these things. We didn’t take pictures of them, and truthfully I can’t even remember if I owned a camera, or if anyone in my family did. Continue reading
I was using the so-called “courtesy flush” long before I knew it had a name. Flushing something particularly odorous quickly or flushing to mask the sound of flatulence are common reasons for the courtesy flush. You might use this tactic at a friend’s house or even at home, but most often it’s used in public bathrooms, especially those that are not well-trafficked.
Anyone who has inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) has used the courtesy flush. Maybe there are some who couldn’t care less what the person in the next stall hears or smells, but others feel some embarrassment.
I don’t know how it happened, and maybe the origins are lost to the sands of time, but someone somewhere decided that a colectomy was a cure for ulcerative colitis. This idea made it into books and pamphlets for patients, and now is taken as canon by inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) advocacy groups. Recently, however, there’s been some pushback on this idea from patient advocates.
What Does This Word Mean, “Cure?”
Personally, I have never felt that “cure” was the correct word to use for the removal of the colon. For people with ulcerative colitis, removing the colon may signal the end of some symptoms, including inflammation, fever, diarrhea, and pain. Without a colon, there are several options available for the solution to the question of “how does one poop?” The most popular one is a j-pouch, whereby a pouch shaped like a “j” is created from the terminal ileum, and sewn onto the rectum. Continue reading