I have learned that living with Crohn’s can be a daily battle. That’s why us Crohnies are known as warriors! Even though there are many medications available to treat Crohn’s, sometimes surgery is necessary.
Although Crohn’s can affect anywhere in the digestive tract, the colon is the most commonly affected portion of intestines.
There are several types of colon surgeries:
• Total colectomy involves removing the entire colon.
• Partial colectomy involves removing part of the colon. Other terms for this surgery include bowel resection and subtotal colectomy.
• Hemicolectomy involves removing the right or left portion of the colon.
• Proctocolectomy is the removal of the entire colon and the rectum.
Many diseases and conditions that affect the colon can become dangerous. These include, but are not limited to, bleeding in the intestine, bowel obstructions, colon cancer, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, diverticulitis, and preventative surgery. Many people fear having a colectomy because of the risk of needing a ostomy bag.
So you need surgery, now what?
It is very importing to listen to your doctors directions when preparing for colon surgery. This also goes with having resections in small intestines.
Typically prep starts a couple days prior to surgery, and can include:
Step 1. If you’re taking medications, getting off medications that can get in the way of healing is important. Many medications used to treat Crohn’s, such as steroids and biologics, can slow the healing process and leave you susceptible to developing an infection. Your doctor will decide which medications you may need to stop taking prior to surgery.
Step 2. Pre-operative tests likely will include scopes, blood work and scans. This is so your doctor can determine which type surgery is best for you.
Step 3. Exercising and eating healthy. Eating balanced meals high in protein is important! Proteins promote muscle growth and wound healing.
Step 4. The dreaded colon surgery prep. No one ever looks forward to this portion of the pre-colectomy surgery step. This step may be the most important because it empties your intestines. If any waste or bacteria commonly found inside the intestines spill into the abdominal cavity, infection can result. It is vital that the intestines are completely empty before surgery!
Being emotionally prepared
Just like living with Crohn’s disease, having surgery impacts you both physically and emotionally. I can’t stress this enough, it’s important to be prepared in all aspects. Reading pamphlets, researching online sites related to colon surgeries, and joining support groups are great ways to prepare for surgery.
Support groups for those who have IBD, either Crohn’s or ulcerative colitis, are perfect for connecting with people who have likely undergone colon surgery. Their experiences can help you be prepared and know what to expect for your own surgery.
Any surgery involving the colon is hard on the body. Typically, a person will need to be hospitalized for several days following surgery, and it generally takes another six weeks of recovery at home. The amount of recovery time really depends on the type of colon surgery that is performed, and your physical state going into surgery.
It takes a lot of courage and strength to go through a colon surgery. You can’t always prevent or refuse a surgery, such as a colectomy. All and all, the most you can do before surgery is to be prepared and have a lot of support!
In my next two columns, I will be go into further detail about colectomies, and what to expect after waking up from them. I will also share my own personal experiences of having colon surgery.
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 other 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.