Today is the anniversary of my first surgery to create my JPouch due to the disease of Ulcerative Colitis. It was April 19, 2005 … 14 years ago. It is hard to believe how sick I was in 2003-2005. I couldn’t eat, I definitely couldn’t drink alcohol. I was tired, irritable, very thin (says the now fat girl) and always in pain and in the bathroom. I look back on those days and it was complete misery.
I was anxious, I was clinically depressed. I was on so medication to treat the UC that nothing worked to help the depression and anxiety. That is really when my love affair with Xanax started that I eventually would be come addicted to. I was on high doses of prednisone which made my mental symptoms worse, but it was the only thing that would remotely control the pain and bleeding from the UC. At the time it was a pitiful existence.
I had my surgery at the Cleveland Clinic which was tops in treating bowel disease. I was so apprehensive to have this surgery. It scared the hell out of me, in fact I was pretty sure I was going to die having this surgery or die if I didn’t. If you don’t know what a JPouch is look it up, it is complicated, but in a nutshell they remove your diseased colon – which was all of it and create an internal pouch for waste from you small intestine. In 2005 it was an open surgery where the cut you open to remove the large intestine, today it is way less invasive. I had an illeostomy bag for 3 months and another surgery in July to remove that and connect everything.
It is the most painful and traumatic thing I have every been through. With both surgeries I would say it took about a year to fully recover to my new normal.
During this time I became very spiritual. Praying the Rosary, Novenas and just talking to God. I felt very close to my higher power during this time and probably would not have survived with out my faith. I even had the anointing of the sick before the surgery. It helped me cope.
Even after I recovered the anxiety and depression lingered. The Xanax usage continued to increase and the drinking was a problem, because internally my make up was now different and I had the brain of an addict.
Today, 14 years later, I am healthy, I am sober and I can eat just about anything (and obviously I did to make up for lost time). I am grateful for the healing this surgery has brought me. They say you are not cured after you have the surgery. Problems still can arise, but they are few and far between. I thank God for the miracle of medicine and all the people who took care of me and my family during that time.
I always remember April 19th.