Part XII – J-Pouch Surgery

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What my j-pouch surgery (proctocolectomy with ileal pouch-anal anastomosis) was like, including prep, surgery, and recovery

I’m still in the hospital after having my j-pouch surgery, technically called a proctocolectomy with ileal pouch-anal anastomosis.

This is a surgical procedure where a surgeon

  • Completely removes your colon and rectum but preserves the anus and anal sphincter muscles
  • Uses the end of your small intestine (the ileum), to form an internal pouch, which is shaped like a J and is connected to the top of your anal canal
  • Creates a temporary ileostomy to give the newly created pouch time to heal. An ileostomy is an opening in the abdomen through which a loop of your small intestine is brought outside to create a stoma. Digested food and gas exit your body through the stoma into an ostomy bag, which is attached to your skin.

It was a large and long surgery and the only tube they’ve gotten rid of is the oxygen.

Surgery Prep

Thursday, May 19th, I spent the day chugging the colyte prep until 11:30 pm, and then I chugged 48 ounces of water. I waited until 12 am to take a shower and then set an alarm for an hour later to wipe myself down with special pre-surgery wipes, which left me feeling very sticky.

I didn’t get much sleep after that because the colyte prep finally kicked in.

My mom and dad drove me to Walnut Creek at 4:30 AM on Friday the 20th, while I sat concentrating really hard on not having to go to the bathroom.

I got checked into what they called the Recovery Room, where they prepared me for surgery and I got to meet everyone who was going to be in the operating room working on me. This is where it started to get hectic.

There were 19 surgeries scheduled for that day. It was very high energy and as I was rolled into my operating room I could definitely see how surgeons are sometimes considered the rock stars of the medical world.

The operating room was extremely cold. It was also really small and there were about six people there bumping elbows and butts. My last memory was looking at the right wall and seeing a whole bunch of shiny and deadly sharp operating utensils. And my last thought after seeing those was “Oh shit!”

I promptly passed out after that and don’t remember anything else.

The J-Pouch Surgery

Me coming out of 5 hour j-pouch surgery.

The first incision was at 9:00 AM and the surgery lasted until 2:00 PM. I didn’t wake up until 3:30 PM which is when I found out they had to give me a stoma.

My surgeon didn’t want to risk doing the whole surgery at once with the amount of prednisone I was on. This means that in 2 to 4 months I will be undergoing another, shorter, surgery to reattach everything together.

None of this stuck in my head the first day. The effects of the anesthesia made it really hard to remember anything.

Surgery Recovery

I’m in a lot of pain. There’s no way around it. Monday, May 23rd, was the first day where I was able to sit up and type but I barely got anything done before I started to get tired again.

Later things slid more downhill. They decided to try to take the catheter out but I couldn’t go pee. Only blood was coming out. My bladder got really big and it set off all my other surgery aches and pains.

My nurse put the catheter back in pronto and I spent the rest of the day in agony. I finally gave in and took some narcotics to help with the pain. I also had to get a new IV put in because my hand had started to swell up.

#1 Lesson Learned: I highly underestimated how hard recovery was going to be.

Read about my J-Pouch Surgery Recovery

Read about what life is like with a stoma in Stoma Life: My 3 Months with an Ostomy

My story continues in Part XIII – Pancreatitis

My Whole UC Story

You can read my ulcerative colitis story in order or you can browse all my ulcerative colitis and health-related posts here:

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