When I was 25, I started having problems with diarrhoea and blood in my stools. I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis (UC). For the next 4 years I struggled with the disease. I was on and off of steroids and other medicines, and had periods of time in hospital to rest the bowel. During each hospital stay, there were discussions about the removal of my bowel, but because I was so young, they wanted to avoid it. Eventually, I was spending more and more time in hospital, I was getting weaker and going to the toilet on average 30 times a day and losing lots of blood during each motion. When I was 29, my health had really deteriorated, I had a TPN line fitted and I was told that my colon had to be removed to save my life.
I was given an ileostomy but I still had my rectum. I felt so well and was able to get married nine months after surgery and was parascending off of the back of a speed boat in Mauritius, on our honeymoon. I was living life to the full. My rectum was proving to be troublesome, as it was still diseased with U/C, so I had to use suppositories to keep it calm. My surgeon, Mr Ward said he would like to perform J Pouch surgery on me. After lots of discussions and thoughts, I went ahead and had the second stage of the J Pouch surgery and three months after that, I had an operation to close my loop stoma.
To begin with, I kept on going to the toilet. My nightmares of UC came back to haunt me, and my bottom was so sore, as it wasn’t used to being wiped, so Sudocrem became my friend!
I came to the conclusion that I was going to control this J Pouch rather than ‘it’ controlling me. So every time I had the urge to go, I held on and worked on my pelvic/sphincter muscles, and it worked. I go to the toilet on average 2-3 times daily. I very rarely get up in the night to go to the toilet and I don’t have any leaks.
My ambition in life was to become a mother and we had been told about the possible risks with fertility following so much surgery. We decided to try and eight months after surgery, I fell pregnant with our first child and then had our second child two and a half years later. Both pregnancies were problem free (I had never felt so healthy) and were both born by C-section.
My J pouch has been terrific and I have great control. I have had to have my tail end stretched twice, as it became narrowed, so, under medical supervision, I now use a rectal dilator twice a week to stop any future narrowing. I am fit and really well. I go on lots of long dog walks, I do HIT training and pilates; I also work full time with children with special needs.
Of course I wish that this hadn’t happened to me, but it has and it has put life into perspective. I live my life to the full, with positivity and gratitude. I am so grateful to my fantastic surgeon, Mr Ward (my angel) and all the nurses who have cared for me. Without them, the support of my family & friends and sheer determination on my part, I wouldn’t be enjoying my healthy (medication free) busy life.