Health Update: Why I Elected For Surgery
Wow, it’s been a while since I wrote a post and a lot has happened in the last few months including bowel resection surgery for my Crohn’s. I wanted to do a post about why I chose to have the surgery as it definitely wasn’t an easy decision to make.
Last year I wrote about meeting with a surgeon in early 2016 who wanted to take out over 30cm of my ileum including the ileocecal valve and then do stricture-plasty in about five other places. This came as a shock as I always thought I had a mild case of Crohn’s and that eventually the inflammation and disease would go away once I got the diet and lifestyle stuff figured out. But even though I had been doing everything ‘right’, the scar tissue from previous flares and inflammation had gotten worse.
What I was most concerned about was the removal of the ileocecal valve. It’s a valve between the small and large intestine that makes sure there’s no back flow from the large intestine into the small amongst other things. This can lead to SIBO (there’s nothing to keep bacteria out of the small intestine) and chronic diarrhoea.
In a bid to avoid surgery I underwent Clear Passage therapy (read about my experiences here and here) but unfortunately it didn’t have the outcome I wanted and flash forward to January this year when I found myself sitting in front of a surgeon again (this time a different one to get a second opinion) who basically told me the same story as the previous surgeon had the year before.
This time I was more prepared for the conversation and basically my symptoms had gotten to the stage where I couldn’t ignore them anymore. The scope of foods that I could eat without causing bloating, distention and fermentation had whittled down to basically nothing – well cooked meats, fish and low residue veggies and green juices. Fruits had become a no-go area (apart from maybe half a very ripe banana) as had raw vegetables. I was worried about most meals but eating out or at family events had become nearly impossible. I remember heading home early from a Christmas dinner out with my friends and having the worst bloating and pains. Another time I went to my in-law’s for Sunday dinner and I just sipped on warm water while everybody else tucked into their roast. I lied and said that I had met a friend for a late lunch but really I just didn’t want to risk eating anything I hadn’t prepared myself. I missed out on a trip to New York as I was afraid that flying would put pressure on my intestines and they’d perforate. I used to bring a hot water bottle or hot pack into work and college to easy my tummy pains when I was distended or experiencing spasms. The effects of the internal scarring was so bad that I actually couldn’t even drink a cup of tea without hearing and feeling the liquid gurgling its way through my system.
What really sealed the deal for me was going to see my wedding band one evening doing a show-case and being doubled-over with stomach pains. I just thought to myself that I didn’t want to feel this bad on my wedding day and that life shouldn’t be this miserable.
While it was a very tough decision to make and some part of me felt like a bit of a failure (surely I should have been able to ‘fix’ myself through diet and lifestyle), I felt that I had given the natural route the best shot – diet, lifestyle, Clear Passage therapy – and I was ready for surgery. I had a good rapport with the new surgeon and while nervous about what was to come I felt it was worth the risk as I couldn’t continue living life as I was.
In my next post I’ll discuss my experience of the surgery and what life is like now!