My name is Nick, 24, and I'm going to tell you about my first surgery, of three, on the road to my j pouch (an ileo-anal pouch which replaces the function of the colon and rectum).
I was nine years into life with ulcerative colitis and I had been in remission for two years then one day I started seeing blood. “Oh man here comes a flare up,” I thought. But what I didn’t know at the time was that this one was going to almost take my life.
We started adjusting my meds and absolutely nothing was working, then on December 19th 2018 I was admitted to the hospital in a city where there aren’t many Colitis/Crohns specialists. The first five days, they pounded me with IV steroids and nothing got better.
In week two at the hospital started my colon got very angry and started flaring up worse than I had ever experienced. I was passing straight blood and what looked like coffee grounds every 30 minutes to an hour. I felt like my colon was falling out with each bowel movement.
Another week passed and they finally transferred me six hours away in a medical airplane to a speciality hospital. Upon arrival, I met the doctors and they got me comfortable until the colonoscopy they had scheduled for the next morning.
When the morning rolled around I went into the procedure but woke up pretty quick - I remember seeing blood on the bed I was on. My colon was so inflamed that they couldn’t fit the camera all the way through and had to pull out and rush me to CT scan to make sure nothing perforated.
The doctor came up and said my colon was in horrible shape and that’s when we found out I’d be going in for surgery the following morning. That morning I woke up and even though I had a 103 fever, weighed 97 pounds and had been on a high dose of steroids, I was at peace. I just needed the pain to end even if that meant passing away during the operation.
After the very long surgery I woke up with an ileostomy bag and I was grossed out. I didn’t want to look at it or touch it. After a few days I began to realize that it wasn’t that bad (and actually kinda cool! But the happiness soon ended when I started coughing heavily.
I developed pneumonia and the flu and was coughing with a six inch incision stapled down my abdomen! After staying in the hospital for a few more weeks, I was discharged and spent about three months gaining weight back and recovering and learning to love life my new ileostomy bag.
For the first few months of life with the bag I was very depressed. I cried every time I looked at it and I felt disgusting. As months went by, I noticed everything starting to get way better. I knew how to prevent leaks and everything else. It completely gave me my life back and I began to love every second of it!
To read more about Nick's journey follow him on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/nickschmitto/