surgery

Recovering from surgery and living with my friend, the Stoma

It's been just over two weeks since the big one; I had my colon removed and was given in its place an ileostomy, which dramatically changes the way I go number two.

As with most stages of my Crohn's journey, I thought I'd write up this blog post with my experiences—and maybe a liiiiittle sarcasm thrown in—for the benefit of anyone else going through a similar situation.

Bowel Prep

My doctor requested a full cleanout for this surgery, I guess so he wouldn't have to deal with stinky poo while yanking out my guts, and I obliged. Unfortunately, for most Crohnies or IBD patients who have to get a colectomy, they're already not in a great place prior to surgery, and neither was I. I was already underweight and not nearly 100% energy-wise, so having to empty out (same prep as for a colonoscopy) meant I did as much as I could to stay hydrated and not faint.

Colons, semicolons, and Crohns surgery, oh my!

"Rectum? Darn near killed 'em!"

— My Grandma, every time she has the opportunity...

In a short time, I'll be getting a "total colectomy and proctectomy" (or, for short, "proctocolectomy"!). This is a procedure where a doctor takes a robot with pointy sticks and knives, sets it loose in my belly, and then the robot proceeds to become sentient and take over my body cut out all of my digestive system, from the end of the small bowel, to... the end end.

Colectomy diagram - red scribbles over large intestine colon and rectum

Red = parts to be removed (source: Wikipedia).

Heaping Helpings of Hospital Humor for Healing

As a Geerling, when a situation goes upside-down I turn to humor. If you need evidence, go read The Joy of Crohn's. Back? Good.

Take today, for example. Day 3 stuck in a hospital due to complications from having Crohn's disease.

Jeff makes a strong arm with a new picc line inserted

I'm in a bit of an awkward situation: I'm mostly fine, and I can walk around, do most things normally, talk, eat, etc. But I have this one little problem: My poop (due to having Crohn's disease) has gone thermonuclear, and it's now affecting my health.

Apparently I have this thing called CMV Colitis. It's one of a number of ailments that either exclusively affects immunocompromised patients (generally, people with IBD, Crohn's, Lupus, etc.), or makes said patients waaaay worse off than your average person. Like, nearly fatal instead of a low grade fever!

Anyways, picture an average week in a Crohnie's life:

Experience with getting LASIK a second time (2016 Edition)

In 2010, I had LASIK eye surgery on both eyes and had my vision corrected to 20/16. It seems my eyes weren't content, as they elongated slightly in the following years, and my vision degraded back to about 20/60... meaning I had to buy a couple pairs of glasses from Zenni to bridge the gap until I decided whether I'd get LASIK again.

Apparently only a small percentage of those who get LASIK after their mid-20s have their vision degrade much further... but being a Crohn's patient with moderate to severe symptoms I'm used to being in the 'unlucky' percentile! So I decided to go in for a second round of LASIK.

Jeff smiling with glasses pre-LASIK
Despite the smile, I was getting quite tired of these spectacles!

The Joy of Crohn's

According to the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America, there are 1.6 million Americans with IBD (Inflammatory Bowel Disease). While that means less than 1% of Americans have either Crohn's or Colitis, that's a pretty big number—and chances are you know someone with IBD, maybe even a close relative!

But due to the fact that Crohn's is usually an invisible illness, many people don't know some of the myriad joys of a typical Crohn's patient's life. This blog post aims to clear that up.

Phobias

Most people I know have one or more of the following phobias:

Experience with LASIK

A few years back, I got LASIK eye surgery to correct my vision, and ended up with 20/16 vision a couple weeks after. Over the past couple years, my vision has finally gotten to the point where things are just blurry enough to necessitate glasses for some kinds of activity, so I've been considering getting LASIK again (the optometrist I used has a significant discount for repeat procedures, so it's an easier decision this time around!).

One of the major hurdles to LASIK for almost everyone I've talked to is the fear of having a procedure done on both eyes—and anything that has the potential to radically alter one of your five senses in a significant way is daunting!

I found this excellent summary of the procedure (warning: language in the rest of that thread), which sums up the procedure perfectly: