I probably had various forms of IBD all my life. Doctors told me that I had a fussy digestion. This problem runs in my family. My father, uncle, and cousins all had forms of “bad digestion” which later was diagnosed as ulcerative colitis. But I guess I hit the genetic jackpot.
I had really started to have bad symptoms of IBD about two years before my surgery while on a trip to Spain. I returned to LA and had a colonoscopy, which the doctor claimed, showed I was perfectly normal. I continued to have bleeding and cramping and so I went to a second doctor who diagnosed ulcerative colitis. I was 55 years old and I had never heard of the disease. He prescribed topical medications and assured me that “I would be cured by November.”
By November I was sicker than ever. I wound up at the third doctor who diagnosed severe ulcerative colitis and prescribed steroids and other medications. But by March I found my self at Cedars-Sinai with a fourth doctor. In April of 2003 I had my ileostomy – an operation I had never heard up before the surgeries appeared in my room and said it would cure my illness.
After two months, I was willing to try anything.
The surgeon was right. I was cured. My ileostomy has allowed me to lead a completely normal life since that time. I went back to teaching high school teenagers which is a challenge for anyone sick or well. I have traveled to various parts of Europe, Mexico, and the United States. I have swum, hiked, bicycled, and snorkeled. Best of all I retired from teaching.
I would like to encourage any new stomata or any one contemplating having the surgery to remember that the propose of the operation is to end having to find the nearest bathroom, long hospital stays, and confinement to home. Go out and do anything you like to do!