Editor’s note: This is the fifth and final article in the “Crohn’s Complications” series by Mary Horsley. This series will focus on IBD-related complications beyond the symptoms. Read part one, part two, part three and part four of the series.
In my latest series, “Crohn’s Complications,” I write about the complications beyond the symptoms and focus on the more extreme medical emergencies that Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis can induce.
As I mentioned in the “Beyond the Bathroom” series as well as this series, and as many IBD patients can tell you, Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are much more than just bathroom illnesses. These diseases come with true complications and life changes.
Complications can happen with Crohn’s through symptoms, sickness, or surgeries, with no two patients’ experiences exactly the same. With Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, we’ve discussed when to visit the emergency room, let’s turn to a major concern for patients and doctors alike: surgery, more specifically, stomas.
With Crohn’s and colitis patients, surgery is often needed to help patients relieve some of their symptoms. Remember, Crohn’s and colitis have no cure.
Stoma, or an ostomy, is a hole or an opening on the surface of the body that is connected to a part of the digestive system. This diverts waste from the rectum and allows this waste to exit through the stoma and into a bag on the outside of the body. No, one cannot feel anything when touching the stoma ― there are no nerve endings there.
Permanent stomas are exactly that: permanent. Temporary stomas allow doctors to reconnect the pieces, close the stoma and restore the path for waste to exit through the rectum again. Many patients also receive a resection before a stoma.
There are different kinds of ostomies, such as an ileostomy, which involves your ileum, or small bowel; colostomy, which stems from the colon, the large bowel; gastrostomy, from the stomach; and others. These ostomies can be permanent or temporary, depending on if a reversal of the stoma is planned.
In today’s world, these ostomies have a few more options for personalization. Patients can now personalize their bags with unique and individual covers, stickers and accessories. And when patients want to remove the bag ― for, say, intimate moments ― there are even interchangeable plug options for stoma patients to use without the bag.
These surgeries are not the only procedures available to patients. Procedures can include a J-pouch, bowel resection, proctolectomy, strictureplasty and more. Remember, each patient is unique in his or her symptoms and disease, and what may happen for others may not necessarily be your path.
For myself, I have not suffered a major surgery or had a stoma, but I know patients who have them. But that does not mean that I do not worry for the future. I had a perianal abscess that led to a fistulotomy, and we worried about infection or a blockage later. I am prepared if and when it comes to that.
My experiences may be different from yours, but you never can be too prepared for what could happen with Crohn’s or colitis. Because for me, I know It Could Be Worse.
Thank you for reading the “Crohn’s Complications” series. I look forward to beginning my next series, so stay tuned.
If you are questioning whether you have an infection or beginning to show any signs of blockages or problems, note any differences in your bowel habits and speak to a physician ASAP. I cannot give medical advice, only a suggestion for fellow Crohn’s and colitis patients to think about when dealing with complications and their diseases.
Remember, Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis have no cure, and complications from them can worsen over time without remission.
Note: IBD News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of IBD News Today, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to IBD.