When I had surgery to remove my colon (which is called a colectomy) and place an ostomy, I knew exactly what was happening. I knew I would wake up with a loop ileostomy. It was the first step in 2-step j-pouch surgery to treat my ulcerative colitis.
My colon was falling apart, full of inflammation and pseudopolyps (non-cancerous polyps that can occur with IBD). I had a few months to prepare for surgery, including meeting with my surgeon and an enterostomal (ET) nurse. When I woke up with a stoma and an ostomy appliance, it was not a surprise.
Did you know that being diagnosed with ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease is a disqualifying condition to serve in the United States military? However, it seems that it’s not always an automatic reason for discharge. Lt Colonel Joshua Nelson was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis and needed to have ileostomy surgery. It cast into question his future as a pilot in the Air Force Reserve. Learn his story of how he worked with his medical team in order to keep doing the job he loves, his advice for others like him, and tips on flying that any ostomate can use.
I was fortunate to see The Matrix on its first run in theaters when it came out on March 31, 1999. We knew little about the movie at the time, only that it was science fiction and it looked amazing and that we would want to see it on the big screen and not later on VHS (DVD was not yet mainstream). The movie came out only a few weeks after my first of two surgeries to create my j-pouch (or IPAA, ileal pouch-anal anastomosis) to treat ulcerative colitis (which is one form of inflammatory bowel disease, or IBD).
I love The Matrix, and how could I not? It contains so many narrative aspects I enjoy, including science fiction, robots taking over the world, an unconventionally beautiful and lethal female character, and a kick-ass soundtrack. To be honest, there are a lot of things about the plot that don’t hold up to serious scrutiny. But that’s fine, it is still amazing and undeniably groundbreaking in both storytelling and technical aspects.
When The Matrix opens, the watcher has no idea what is going on. This is my favorite way to be pulled into a story: absolutely cold, with no frame of reference. There’s no exposition; the narrative plunks you right into this universe that works differently than the one you know. You have to make a decision right then and there, if you are all in and if you’re ready for the filmmakers to take you on the ride and teach you about their world. For me, it was my first time being out of the house and enjoying myself after having surgery, and I was so ready for the journey.
(Mild spoilers for The Matrix are contained in this article, so if you haven’t seen it, or haven’t seen it lately, go watch it now. I mean, how can you exist in the world and understand what other people talk about without having seen it?)
I’ve made many mistakes along my disease journey. The first, and most dangerous, was to believe that my fate was already sealed. This post was sponsored by AbbVie Inc. Personal opinions and thoughts are my own.
Crohn’s and Colitis Awareness Week is December 1-7. If you have Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, get tips from gastroenterologist Dr. Corey Siegel, a Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis expert, by visiting the online Expert Advice Tool before your next trip to the doctor’s office.
When I was 16, I was diagnosed with a disease I’d never heard of called ulcerative colitis. Approximately 700,000 people in the United States are affected by ulcerative colitis – a chronic inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) characterized by inflammation of the large intestine (colon and rectum). It is not caused by food or a contagious disease.
It’s estimated that half of people who have an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) try complementary and alternative medicine to treat their disease. Eric Polsinelli of Vegan Ostomy describes how he tried dozens of complementary therapies for his Crohn’s disease but never found anything that worked. He did, however, come away with vital insight about how people living with IBD can assess alternative therapies and talk to their physicians about working them into a comprehensive treatment plan. Continue reading →
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 →