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Adapting to the J-Pouch

Posted Sep 29 2009 6:08pm

I like to think of my j-pouch as new and relatively improved plumbing.  Its been exactly two weeks since my takedown surgery.  I am not exactly where I want to be and not to the point where I feel comfortable venturing out for extended periods of time but I am making progress.  I have been able to go as long as 5 hours or so without a trip to the bathroom and would love to string a couple of those together in a single day.  

The most difficult thing to cope with right now is the natural desire for instant gratification or in the this case the feeling of being normal again.  It comes at different times for different individuals and I just have to be patient.  My medicine cabinet is stocked with preparation h wipes and calmoseptine barrier ointment in the meantime.  My derriere feels as if its had a couple of layers taken off and I get a maddening itch almost every evening that's only cured by painkillers (a prescription for percoset given upon discharge from the hospital).  Part of the problem I believe is that the j-pouch is not nearly the size of the colon and there is often a sharp pain when defecating for lack of a better term here.  Everyone is familiar with the painful Sunday morning bowl of oat bran New York Times dumps, well you can multiply the pain factor by 100.  Other j-pouchers say that it feels like they'd rip their stitches.  Its shortly after those episodes that the itch often settles in.  Needless to say I'll be asking for a refill on the pain pills tomorrow at my post-op follow up.  I've experienced the infamous but burn only a couple of times the first few days at home and suspect that once I can introduce more fiber into my diet the threat of future episodes will be further diminished.  My poo now has the consistency of lumpy oatmeal never again to see the fully formed logs bragged about on episodes of South Park.  

Two weeks out and I'm still going about 20 times a day.  I've been told that between 6-10 bowel movements a day is what I can expect once everything normalizes.  The dime sized drainage hole where my stoma once was is shrinking quickly from the inside out.  Stitches will be removed tomorrow and I suspect that it will close on its own relatively soon afterwards.   

Unlike with ulcerative colitis with the J-pouch I have more control over the urge to go to the bathroom and feel like most people do when they have to go do number 2 really badly.  Its just I feel like that far more often right now.  With ulcerative colitis I had little to no control, extensive bleeding, and painful cramping as well.   

On several occasions already my wife and others have asked if I'm glad I opted for surgery.  Though I'm nowhere close to where I want to be I can honestly look back at my UC flares and this and say yes!  I'm just entering a new and hopefully better world.  Once I'm feeling up to it, I'll begin running again.  Running is something I love and was relatively good at until UC stepped in.  I last ran a half marathon while suffering from Ulcerative Colitis in 04, finishing in 1 hour 38 minutes.  As my UC got worse I stopped running altogether.   Its my hope to run the Rock'N'Roll half marathon in Vegas next year as part of the take steps for Crohn's and Colitis campaign.  In the process I hope to prove to myself that I can beat the colitis and at the same time raise money for a very good cause.  

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